(the title of today's blog comes from the title of an episode from HBO's THE WIRE)
My girlfriend and I went to Dave and Buster's on Wednesday to take advantage of their "half-priced games" deal. It's become our new favorite place. For those of you who haven't been there, think of a more grown-up version of Chucky Cheese's (is that how you spell the name of the place? I could look it up, but I'm too lazy right now). They've got games, and they've got booze.
How can one not have fun?
I guess this would be my version of gambling, although gambling doesn't seem as fun. At least there, I'm well aware that all I'm doing is spending money to win tickets. Tickets that I may never end up using, yet I still feel proud when I hit a jackpot.
Anyway, there was this sad looking man who was sitting at one of the games. He was there long before we got there. He just sat there and played the same game over and over again. He must've been in his late forties or early fifties. He had to keep calling the workers over because he'd clean the machine out of tickets.
He didn't look like he was having fun. He looked like a character I'd written about in a short story, In Decline (which also inspired the title for my short story collection). He just sat there and played the same machine over and over again. When his card would run out of points to play the game, he'd simply run over to the re-charge machine and drop some more money on it.
We heard the man say he was trying to win a new iPad. Now, I don't know if there was one in the actual machine, or he was saving up tickets to buy one at the store. Either way, the man must've blown close to a grand or so.
A bag full of stacks and stacks of tickets rested by his feet, as he played the machine more and more.
It was kind of bumming us out, if you want to know the truth. It was just a sad scene. This must've been Dave & Buster's version of a degenerate gambler. My girlfriend wondered if the man had a family, and if they thought he was at work. Maybe they laid him off because he was spending too much time at D&B's. Those one hour lunch breaks turned into three hour lunch breaks one too many times for his boss to stomach.
Maybe he didn't have a family. It could've been that he was trying to win an iPad so he could sell it to somebody. Or, the iPad had become a sick obessesion for him. Maybe it started innocently enough at the start, but then he grew determined to win the blasted gadget.
This is all speculation, of course. But that's what a story teller does. He looks at somebody and tries to think of a back story. What brought that person there and what was his or her motivation.
Everybody has a story. We may not know exactly what that story is, but it doesn't stop us from coming up with one on our own. You don't have to be an author or a writer. It's something we all do from time to time.