Let’s go to Atlantic City
by Trish Hubschman
My friend, Janet, from Helen Keller Center for the Blind, wanted to get some of us together to charter a bus and go down to Atlantic City. Janet and I were the same age, 25. She had lost her sight suddenly. Doctors couldn’t figure it out. But she was doing great bouncing back.
“I’ve never been to AC,” I told her. “I heard it’s a lot of fun. There’s so much to do.” I was tentative about joining her, but I was considering it too because she was a good friend.
“We’ll have a ball,” she said. She’d been to AC a few times with family and friends. The previous year, she had gone to a concert at the Tropicana in AC with her boyfriend.
No one else at the Center wanted to go, so Janet and I just bought tickets on a pre-planned tour bus. We decided to make it an overnight and booked a room at the Holiday Inn on the boardwalk.
The bus dropped us off by Sand’s casino in AC at noon. It would leave at six that evening. Since we weren’t going home the same night, we’d have to wait until six the following night. We had to check out of the hotel by nine the next morning and would have to pass the entire day, lugging around our overnight bags, with no place to sit, except in front of a slot machine or at an eatery.
The Holiday Inn was at the other end of the boardwalk, so we were in for some good exercise. Janet held her long cane in her right hand. She was tapping it back and forth as we walked. Her left hand was holding my elbow. The best time to gamble was when the seniors were at the dinner buffet or on the buses heading home. By the time we got to the hotel, checked in, freshened up, rested, and found something to eat, the seniors would be heading off for their four o’clock dinners.
“How late do you think we should stay out till?” I asked.
“Till we run out of money, I guess,” she replied. We called it quits at nine. It had been a long day. We’d been up since six, on the bus at eight and been walking back and forth from one end of the boardwalk to the other.
“We can hit the slots again in the morning,” she offered. Frankly, we could sit at them all day, but the buses would be back around noon and the place would be crowded. Come to think of it, it was more fun during the day when it was alive. It was just harder to find an unoccupied slot machine and, once in a seat, it was advisable not to vacate it or risk losing it.
The next morning, we checked out of the Holiday Inn at eight forty- five and went to the Tropicana breakfast buffet. our overnight bags were slung over our shoulders. It was a bright, sunny, hot day. We were both wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals. As we walked, we decided to make a game of it. We ducked into each casino along the way and stuck a few coins in a slot machine. Our knapsacks felt heavy. Opening the door of a casino and going inside was like stepping into the North Pole. –
“We’re going to get sick from this back-and-forth temperature thing,” I complained. I knew there wasn’t anything we could do about it. If we went into a Ladies Room and put pants on, we’d be comfortable inside the buildings, but close to passing out from heat wave outside.
“I think we’re better off staying as we are,” Janet said. “We’ll probably be outside more than in eventually because we’re running out of money. “Got a great idea. Why don’t we buy sweatshirts? We can wear them inside and tie them around our waists outside.”
It was close to twelve, many of the buses had arrived and people were spilling into the casinos. We decided to stop walking and go inside for a while ourselves. I was sitting at a slot machine, engrossed in the symbols coming up; one, two, three. It was another loser. That was okay. I was having fun. That’s what counted.
“Why don’t we go have some lunch? I’m hungry,” Janet announced.
I glanced up. I hadn’t noticed the time or that I was hungry. “Let me just finish up these few quarters.” There were five left. I picked the quarters from the metal tray and popped them into the slot, pulled the lever and bent down to retrieve my bag while the pictures rolled. I sat up at the same time they popped onto the screen – one, two three daisies. Was I seeing right? Sirens went off. Lights flashed. I jumped back, smacking into Janet.
“Oh my God! oh my God!” she shrieked. “Do you know what all that is? What it means?” Her hand came out and she pointed a finger. “You just won something and it’s big.” The numbers on the screen kept going up and up. A security guard came over and started emptying the quarters out of the tray into a big plastic cup.
I narrowed my eyes. “I never saw so many quarters,” I noted. “
“The machine can only hold two hundred and fifty dollars,” the female guard explained. “When it’s through tallying the win, a receipt will come out and we’ll take it to the cashier.”
Finally, the numbers stopped climbing. I won five thousand dollars. I couldn’t’ believe it! The guard grabbed the slip from the machine and started walking. Janet and I followed, her left hand on my elbow.
“After taxes, you’ll come out with, let me see.” Janet began.
“Oh, shut up,” I spat. This was so hard to absorb. I never won anything before, and this was my first time in AC. “What time is it?” I asked.
I swatted my forehead. “That means we still have six hours till our bus leaves. Am I supposed to walk around with a big check in my pocket? And what are we going to do until it’s time to leave?”
We were at the cashier
“We can get you a car service to take you home if it’ll make you feel better,” the guard offered.
I considered it. “How much would a car service cost?”
She shrugged. “A few hundred.”
My eyes widened. “That’s a lot of money,” I snapped.
“Don’t be so cheap,” Janet shot back.
I had to make a snap decision. “I guess I could take the money now, bury it deep in my bag, watch it with my dear life, sit in a corner with my mouth shut.”
“Let’s just go to lunch,” Janet suggested. “I’m starved.”
“Okay,” I agreed. “But you’re treating. I don’t have any cash on me.”
And that’s what we did, had lunch at Burger King and didn’t mention the money, walked around the mall. We played nickel slots the rest of the afternoon. We went to the dinner buffet at four and sat waiting for the bus at five. I was exhausted but knew I wouldn’t close my eyes for one second on the ride home.
Trish Hubschman is the author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series, Tidalwave, Stiff Competition/Miss America, and Ratings Game/Talk Show Queen. Tracy is a Long Island private detective. Her sidekick, Danny Tide, is the leader of the rock band, Tidalweav. Tracy is hired to find out who set fire to Danny’s tour bus. In the process of doing this, they become a team.
Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She worked for New York State Civil Service for sixteen years. She is deafblind and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, author Kevin Hubschman, and their dog, henry.
Her website is www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman/