PERFECT STRANGERS

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Don’t share your story with strangers unless asked

By Frank Scoblete

I’m in the elevator waiting to go up to my room. An older couple step in and up we go. My room is all the way at the top of the hotel. So is the older couple’s. They seem like pleasant people. When they stepped into the elevator they smiled and nodded an “hello” and I nodded and smiled back.

On the way up the gentle- man said to me, “So how are you doing?”

Oh, for crying out loud. I hate it when people ask me, “How are you doing?” For a couple of reasons: one, they don’t really care how I am doing and two, they care about what they are doing and this is their way to share it with a stranger. And it doesn’t matter if they are having a good time, a mediocre time or a losing time – they want to share!

“I am up two hundred on the slots,” said the woman.

“I nailed blackjack my man,” said the man. “I’m up five hundred dollars.”

“Ah,” I said. “Ah” is a word I use when I want to respond to something without having the person I am “ahing” continue that line of conversation or at the very least to cut the conversation somewhat short.

“Ah” can be used in most situations: “I didn’t get a present from my spouse for our anniversary.” “Ah.” “I really wish the President would let me pay less in taxes.” “Ah.” “Danny, that rat, died.” “Ah.”

I don’t want to share. I am not interested in how some stranger is doing. It is their money with which to play as they see fit; to continue to play if they want, to stop playing, to do with their money as they like.

As a writer, yes, I am something of a busybody when it comes to giving my advice. That’s what writers do. But that is my career, whether I am writing about casino play or other things. I don’t want to intrude on others’ lives and I don’t want them to intrude on mine – at least not in an elevator or in a casino.

Seriously who cares what is happening to that stranger? Once they tell me their tale, short though it might be, the next time I see them I would be almost forced to ask them, “Hey, how are you doing now?” I don’t want to do that because then they will ask me how I am doing now. “Ah.”

Now, with a close friend or my wife the Beautiful AP, I am somewhat interested in how they are doing. I don’t want them to feel bad if they are losing. I want them to be happy with their casino play. I think that is normal of me to be so interested in their state of play and their state of mind. One is a friend and, more important, one is the wife.

“I like to play the giant progressive slots,” said the woman on the elevator. “I’d love to win millions. What do you think?”

“Ah.”

In my writer’s life I would tell her that those machines take a lot of money from the players to generate those big jackpots. I wouldn’t recommend playing them. Stick to regular slots and not the giant progressives. But someone on an elevator wouldn’t be interested in a lecture by me. They just want to express their opinion. Do they really care what I have to say? I doubt it.

I am guessing that as soon as I give my advice, the person would tell me about a friend or an acquaintance or a friend of friend’s winning a pretty good jackpot. Then I would have to say, “Ah.” I don’t really want to do that.

Now a reader of an article is somewhat interested in what I have to say. There is an implied or expressed desire between writer and reader to have a kind of relationship or the reader wouldn’t read the article. If a reader asked me about the progressive slots, I’d give my opinion. Picking up the article to read is the desired equivalent of asking me the question I want to answer.

I do not want to sound cold or heartless and I guess some readers might take this article as proof that I am indeed cold and heart- less. I do think it is great when someone wins; I think it is not great when someone loses, if these someone’s are strangers.

I’d rather do a few seconds of thinking when I am in an elevator or on a line or walking wherever, simply because I have said the word “Ah” way too often in my life.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com.His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

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