Monday, November 13, 2006

Back from the land of the Delta Blues

I'll write more on my most recent trip later, when I get pictures posted. I've lost a few because of corrupted files on my media card, so I'm working on that problem.

However, I had one particular observation that has nagged at me since getting home. First, though, you gotta understand that I'm not a gambler by nature. I echo the sentiments of one of my fellow travelers on this trip. She stood at several locations inside the casinos and said, " I don't understand! Why would anyone bet on that?" She's not a gambler, either.

The place where we stayed was part of a casino resort. To get to our hotel (one of three larger hotels on the property), you took an exit off the higheay and drove a looooonnnggg time. Past golf courses and undeveloped land. This place wanted to be sure that going elsewhere wasn't so easy.

They also didn't want you to stay in your room. No desk. Internet was $11 a day. No business center, either in the hotel or the adjoining conference center. Gambling terminals were strategically placed, but no computers to be seen anywhere. The only restaurants were tucked deep inside the big casino.

Going through the casino to get to dinner, you couldn't help but feel the party atmosphere. People laughing, cheering, sipping on cocktails, and having a good time. We'd walk past an empty table and the dealer (or whoever presided) sounded almost like a carney trying to draw you to the game with, "Oh, ladies, ladies, ladies!" You knew most of the guests were losing money, but they seem to have come with the assumption that it was all part of the fun.

Another night, another dinner, another casino. They trucked us to a difference casino complex, but this one sits along the highway. The difference to me was startling. No party atmosphere. I've heard the phrase "smell of desperation" before, but never experienced it. The phrase doesn't do justice to the horror of it. Many of the people sitting at the slots looked like they lived there, in the same clothes, all the time. They looked at you with these haunted eyes, defeated and desperate. There was no fun in their game-playing.

Scared the hell out of me. No, I'm not a gambler. And after that experience, I doubt I ever could be. I won't forget those eyes anytime soon.