Our former employer invited his office help to visit him at his retirement home in Las Vegas. My friend and I eagerly accepted his invitation, planning to see some shows and check out the casinos while visiting him. My first thought was that since playing slot machines requires no skill and I like to play cards, I would take my turn at the gambling tables playing Blackjack. I had not played it very often but I knew the basics. Neither my husband nor I had ever been to Vegas but he suggested we probably didn't know enough about the game to challenge the dealers there.
That made sense to me so I found a book of rules and guides on how to play the game. I spent many nights during the next six weeks sitting on the living room floor studying the instruction book with card deck and chips nearby. My husband played some practice games with me but most of the time I was both the dealer and the player. By the date of our trip I knew how to double-down, split pairs and possibly recognize the difference between a poor hand and a very good one. The preparation work was done and I was ready to go bring back the big bucks from Vegas.
A few days before our trip a client at the law office where we worked, stopped at the office to give us a gift. Fred gave us $25 in quarters suggesting we might use them to play the slot machines or just enjoy lunch on him. We put his money in a coin purse to keep it separate so that we could tell him later if we won with his money or lost it.
I found Las Vegas to be a vicious assault on the senses. There were so many lights, so many people, so much noise, and so much to see. We did lots of walking around seeing all the man-made sights: fancy hotels, gorgeous lobbies, beautiful shopping areas and, of course, the lavishly decorated casinos. They were fun to see but it was dizzying. We saw several very good stage shows but I needed the break from the sights and sounds of downtown the day our host took us out to see the desert. All of the rest had left me exhausted. I could hike up a mountain and find it more relaxing than just walking the oh-so-alive streets of Las Vegas.
We didn't spend a lot of time in the gambling areas of the casinos but every once in a while we played the slot machines. We rationed our coins from Fred playing a few at a time. We would lose a few but always won a few back. I walked around scouting out the Blackjack tables. I saw only tables where you could play for $5 or more. That sounded so high it scared me. I hung around and watched the players hoping for a burst of courage that would allow me to sit down to play. It wasn't long before I decided that was not going to happen. I would never be brave enough to do it. All the practicing I did at home was for naught. I didn't play a single game of Blackjack in Las Vegas. They kept all their money and I kept all of mine.
We were back at the airport waiting for our flight home when we played the last of the coins in Fred's purse. A slot machine there eagerly gobbled them up. For the first time, not a single coin came back. Our report to Fred would be that we had fun with his money but it had not been monetarily rewarding.
We phoned home immediately after landing at the airport on our return trip. I learned my father-in-law was in the hospital and very sick. That meant we had to get home as quickly as possible. My fellow-traveler suggested we would save time if I waited for the luggage alone while she went to get the car from the long-term parking lot.
She returned to pick me up and had some unexpected good news to share. We didn't know the parking lot had a gimmick to lure customers their way. Every day they posted a number on their payment booth. That day the number was 77 and hers was the 77th vehicle to check out. We were not charged anything. The bill would have been about $100 but we paid nothing. We had to leave Las Vegas to finally hit a jackpot.