Posted by: ladybughugs | September 18, 2008

Tales from the Bingo Ward

The original title of this was ‘A Time for the Krazees.’

One of the obligations I have as a parent in my son’s school is working bingo. It’s not my favorite thing, but it is a huge revenue stream for the school and I like lower tuition and so I work bingo. I try to keep a positive attitude about it; being negative would make it more difficult to pull myself away from my family on my team’s bingo night. The rotation is such that I end up working ten or eleven times a year. That’s not much considering what it brings to the school and our children. It’s also a great opportunity to get together with other parents in the school and hear what they have to say. Really, though, I’d much rather be home, relaxing with my family after a day of errands and chores, catching up at the end of a work week.

I have to say, that after five years of observing the subculture that is the bingo players, they are definitely a different breed of people. I’m not talking about the occasional players (they can be very nice, extremely easy-going, and polite). Some players/pairs are actually quite cute (a daughter and her very aged father on oxygen, a woman with her grandmother; these folks I inwardly cheer for). I’m referring to the players that go from hall to hall, a different hall each night of the week and shell out unfathomable amounts of money.

For us, it’s $2 for admission (four boards/game, seven games). Add $3 or $10 for additional packets (six or 24 boards/game, everyone buys additional packets usually up to $12 worth, some more than that). Then there are three 50/50 games at $1/sheet (four boards/sheet, some purchase two sheets, some purchase eight, for each 50/50 game). Then there are the instant/pull-tab games. This is where they go nuts. Some will buy 20 at a time, easily $100/night…easily.

I’ve got a different story for each night I’ve worked bingo. The players can be verbally abusive to the point of being threatening. They’re petty and childish. They’re prone to tantrums when they don’t get what they want. In those tantrums they’ve questioned my dedication to my faith. Hey, I don’t make the rules, I’m there to enforce them.

I’m usually surprised every month that my team’s bingo night isn’t a full moon. This past weekend, not knowing, I kept asking myself (and my teammates) if it was a full moon. We had 117 players. That’s more than I’ve ever seen at a bingo (I’d estimate that I’ve worked between 50-55 bingos in the last 5 years). 70-90 is the attendance for a normal night.

On Saturday night there was a woman there who looked young. She is a resident in a group home and came in with one of her caregivers who is a regular. I asked for ID. She didn’t have it. Her caregiver had purchased her boards so I didn’t realize she was there until I started selling additional 50/50 game sheets on the floor. I told her I needed to see ID. Her caregiver gave me a really hard time.

Her: She’s 20.
Me: Fine, but I still need to see ID.

Her: ‘I’ll call my staff they’ll tell you she’s 20.’
Me: Fine, but I still need to see her ID.

Her: I’m here all the time; you think I’d jeopardize that by bringing in a minor.
Me: By law I need to check ID on anyone that I think looks young. We could lose our license.

I pointed out to her that by law liquor stores must card anyone who looks younger than 25. No ID, no service, no discussion, period. Same rule applies here only everyone must be 18. (You think the gaming commissioner would accept someone’s ‘word’ if he came in to inspect? HA!)

around and around. every argument in the book. She couldn’t accept or respect my position. Finally, someone from the group home brought the ID down. I won’t even go into the moral issue of bringing a resident of a group home to a gambling hall. Does her family know about it? Would I want/permit a family member who required the services of a group home to be taken off premises to gamble?

Many of the players don’t respect us (as I said some do, they’re very nice and polite). So many, though, ignore the rules. At the end of the night they get up, leave their trash behind, and walk out, leaving us to clean up after them.

55* bingos down, 130* more stories to tell

*estimated numbers of bingos worked and left before Lil’bug graduates

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