My Casino
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Back when I was married, my ex-wife's younger sister lived with us for about six months in our modest two-bedroom apartment. We drove fifteen hours from Massachusetts to Ohio, packed her belongings into our car, then drove back home with her. She was in her early twenties and was just coming out of a bad relationship. Of course, she had dropped out of college to be with this guy, so she had no degree and very few employment skills -- not to mention little interest in getting a job. But we wanted to help her get back on her feet, so we helped her through her job search, until, after four months and many failed opportunities, she got hired as an assistant at the library of the college where I worked.

She did well at her job and met some folks who became her friends. My wife and I were happy for her, and I confess, we were happy for ourselves when she was able to get an apartment of her own. After providing shelter and food and job-searching services for her at no cost, we then sprang for lots of household items to get her set up in her new place, and we even surprised her by painting her new bedroom the day before she moved in. All in all, we were quite the chums to her.

  
 
Not long after she moved, she called us with what she called "really good news." She had been invited by her new friends from work to go to Connecticut for the weekend, where they would visit the newly-built Foxwoods Casino. Somehow, I didn't quite know how this qualified as "really good news," but she was thrilled. She was taking $200 with her -- the entire total of her savings after two months at her new job, and she promised that whatever money she won, she would give to us to let us know how grateful she was for all our help. I assume she planned to win so much more than the $200 itself that she thought simply offering the $200 to us would be an insult to the depth of her gratitude.

You can probably guess the outcome of the story. The $200 was gone in about half an hour. She spent the rest of her weekend watching her friends lose even greater sums of money, eating mostly potato chips and vending machine candy bars, and sleeping on the floor of their hotel room.

All this has me thinking that I want to start my own casino. First, I'd build it near a major highway so that everyone could see it as they drive by. There would be lots of pretty lights that flash constantly, giving the place a manic glow. I'd have cheap food and drinks so that the customers didn't spend too much money keeping their bodies in motion. There would be lots of exciting music playing, and occasionally I would bring in famous singers for concerts or host athletic contests such as boxing matches featuring fighters banned in most other states.

Most importantly, amid all of this glamour and excitement, I would install row after row of multicolored, bell-and-whistle endowed... toilets.

Customers would walk up to these toilets and drop in a dollar bill. Then they would pull the handle and flush. As their dollar bill spun round and round, they would follow it with their eyes, cranking their necks in circles and shouting, "Come on baby! C'mon! Hit it baby!" or similar such phrases. Then their dollar would be gone down the pipes, and the toilet would return to normal. So they would drop in another dollar bill and repeat the process again. And again. And again. And again. And again again again again again again again again again again, and again.

Every once in a great while, one of the toilets would clog from all this action, and some of the previously flushed dollar bills would come bubbling out of the toilet and overflow onto the floor. Sirens would sound, and other customers would stare as the winner scooped up handfuls of wet dollar bills. Some of the other customers would be congratulatory, but one or two would claim that they had been priming this particular toilet for half an hour with their money, and this interloper had come in and stolen their jackpot. Eventually, casino officials would come by to fix the toilet, and all would return to normal. Flush, flush, happy, happy.

Where would you find me in my casino? I'd be the man sitting in an office with a window overlooking the workers emptying my money from the septic tank. If you looked really closely at the wall of my office, you'd see a framed photo of my ex-wife's younger sister. The caption under the photo would read, "Our Founder."

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