(Just in case you thought I was kidding about my Adventures in Bingo in my Bonkers at Bingo post …)
A bit of Bingo Background is necessary for you to appreciate this blog post: Prior to partaking in the joy that is Bingo, Bingo patrons must pay an admission fee ($1.00) and get an admission “ticket.” They then receive a book of Bingo “cards” (cheesy paper Bingo sheets) and have the option to purchase extra cards for the various games.
The Bingo admission process involves about seven or so Bingo workers sitting at a long fold-out table. After patrons pay their admission and get their free book of cards at the first worker, they continue down the assembly line and purchase any extra game cards they may desire from the remaining workers who sit at the table behind cash bins and books of whatever sheet they are selling.
Most seniors know exactly what they want and have an entire system for purchasing tickets. For example, they may start at the first worker and pay their dollar admission with a $20 bill, thus receiving $19 in change. They will then use that $19 to systematically purchase additional Bingo sheets down the line, ranging in price from $1.00 to $4.00 per sheet, until they get to the end of the line and are down to exactly zero dollars left. It’s an art. It’s a science. It’s Bingo.
At the end of the table they have the opportunity to purchase daubers and scotch tape (to tape their cheesy paper Bingo cards to the tables and torture the workers even more, who must scrape the tape off at the end of the night).
For whatever reason, Seniors being Seniors feel the need to line up a half hour before we start to sell. Maybe it has to do with seniors always wanting to be early for stuff? Personally, I’d wait until there was no line and then walk right to the table to buy my stuff. Especially if I was old and not used to standing. But I digress . . . Maybe it’s a generation gap thing.
Back to the Bingo Hall. Eventually the more savvy seniors figured out that instead of standing around on their arthritic joints waiting for us slugs, the better option is to drag chairs over to the line and sit comfortably while waiting.
The result? The long (empty) admission table grows a tail consisting of about fifty to one hundred plastic chairs filled with seniors waiting to purchase their Bingo wares.
This, Blogtropolis, is “The Purchase Line.”
Back to the night in question. It was the last Tuesday of the month so I dragged myself to Bingo after work. When it was time to tackle admissions, I quickly jumped on the first seat ($1.00 per person is easier to calculate than $4.00 per sheet, 5 sheets please, here’s a $50, etc. I am math-challenged). So as the first person at the long admission table, I was responsible for taking each person’s $1.00 admission fee and giving them a packet of “cards” and an admission “ticket.” After giving them their stuff, I usually say something like “good luck!” Some of them get mad, because apparently saying “good luck” is bad luck, but I feel the need to say something. Respect for elders, blah blah.
As I geared up ready to tackle the Purchase Line, imagine my surprise when the Bingo Dude (“Master in Charge”) hands me an extra pile of papers that I am required to hand out. Ugh! Old people don’t like changes in the routine (by “old people” I’m referring to myself as well as the Bingo patrons), and an extra paper would most definitely slow down the line.
I gave Bingo Dude a dirty look and checked out the extra paper. This is what it read:
*Effective IMMEDIATELY, space saving in the Purchasing Line is prohibited. If an empty chair is put in the line to save a space, it will be removed.
* Any person making a physical or verbal threat to another Bingo player will be asked to leave immediately.
* Bullying, verbal disagreements and other offensive actions and words will not be tolerated.
WOWZERS! After some investigation (by that I mean gossiping with the other parents) I learned that there was a fight in the Purchase Line the week prior between a “regular” and an “amateur” when the “amateur” tried to save a seat in the Purchasing Line! Apparently threats of physical injury were tossed around by the”regular” (who Bingo Dude said “should have known better”). Workers had to intervene and rumor has it that the situation got messy and uncomfortably awkward. The young’uns had to yell at the elders. Drama, drama, drama.
IT’S BINGO, People! It’s SUPPOSED to be FUN!
I must admit that upon learning about the disruptive events I felt a pang of disappointment that I had missed the excitement. I also became a little nervous about working Bingo that night. There was a huge crowd (“the progressive” was “up”), and nobody would reveal to me which “regular” was involved in the scuffle. I made sure to be extra nice to everyone for my own safety!
Thankfully, the night I worked was uneventful (maybe the extra notice to behave kept them all in check). The only person complaining was the Sucker roped into selling poppers (see prior Bingo post for the background of the Problematic Poppers). After selling two rounds of poppers, she joined the rest of us hiding out in the Bingo money room and flopped down in a chair, exhausted. She then whipped out her phone and settled into her happy place, declaring she’d “rather have a root canal” then go back out into the Bingo room. I quickly put my index finger on the side of my nose and yelled, “NOT DOING POPPERS” because I sure as hell wasn’t going out there either!
The only other excitement that night was when Bingo Dude approached me with a promotion of sorts. As an experienced parent I was pressured to advance up the Bingo Hall ladder of success. Lucky for me, I am now being trained to be a Bingo Banker. I get to hang out in the Bingo hiding spot and count money, entering the establishment’s earnings on a sophisticated Excel spreadsheet. It was either Bingo Banker training, or Number Caller training. Calling numbers is the second most horrific Bingo duty, after poppers. Banking has zero exposure. Poppers and calling = full exposure.
In conclusion, I’m here to tell you that the next time you hear seniors complaining about violence and gangs and “this day and age,” feel free to tell them that violence happens in their world too, at the Bingo Hall. I wonder if they’ll soon start wearing “colors” and begin initiating the “amateurs”? I would not be surprised.
Here’s a pic of the Bingo Notice. I’m not making this stuff up, people! Have a nice night.