On Gamblers, Anonymity, and Death………. a short story by me
Gamblers are a strange lot. I do a lot of gambling. I see a lot of the same people at the tables at the casino closest to my house…….Delaware Park. I also see the same people sometimes at casinos that are farther away like Dover Downs (50 miles) and Harrahs in Philadelphia (really Chester, 25 miles). For about 90% of these people, I know only their first names…..kinda like Alcoholics Anonymous. I like 95% of these people and the other 5% give me some kind of entertainment…..I might like how grouchy they are or how pissed they get when they lose….something like that. Like I said, I like most of the people and they seem to like me……the dealers, too. Usually, there’s some laughter and story telling….unless, of course, the dealer is winning every hand then things are much more quiet. One thing I have noticed is that people do not tend to ask you what you do for a living. They will do so occasionally but not usually. There are people that I have been playing cards with for a couple of years now and I have no idea what they do or did for a career. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just that it never comes up. One of the reasons, at least I think so, is that people go to the casino to escape from reality along with the hope of gaining some cash. There are no clocks in casinos. There are very few windows. People focus on their cards, their money and they are absorbed by the game. If there is time, they discuss the news of the day with their fellow players or exchange opinions about various issues. Compare this to a cocktail party. If you introduce yourself to someone, the question of “What do you do?” will be coming up in less than 3 minutes. I guarantee it.
OK, so last night was a special night. I was going to give you a whole lot of detail about why it was so crowded but decided that it doesn’t matter. Just trust me when I tell you it was WAY crowded.
One of the players that is at my table a lot is a lady named Christine. I like her. She talks a lot and she talks loud and she is not above tossing in the occasional F-Bomb when things don’t go her way. I am not good at guessing ages but I think somewhere between 35 and 45 years old. She had surgery on her throat a few weeks ago and couldn’t talk for awhile and then she couldn’t talk loud for awhile. I’m not the only one who considered this a blessing…..as long as she got better. Like I said, I like her. She took a lot of good-natured kidding about it, too, both from the players and the dealers.
So, last night, just about 5 minutes before 6 PM. I see some dealers talking and gesturing and everyone looks worried. I think I hear that someone stabbed a dealer but that can’t be right. I asked one of the dealers what was going on but she didn’t answer me. I moved down in the direction where everyone was looking. I got down to the craps table. The stickman – a big overweight guy in his 50s had collapsed and was on the floor. They had ripped open his shirts and they were giving him CPR. Delaware park has their own version of Emergency Medical Technicians but, if they were any good, they would have real jobs in a real hospital or EMT setting. Guess what ? There’s Christine in the middle of it all barking orders at everybody that’s working on the guy. They had to shock him 6 or 7 times and he was down for about 20 minutes. Pumping a guys chest is hard work and they were taking turns doing it every 5 minutes or so. They were pumping his chest so hard that his big stomach was expanding and compressing. It was eerie. The security guards came and held up sheets real high like “There’s nothing to see here, folks.” but nobody moved me along. Like I said, I’m a regular and I was asking another of the craps dealers which dealer was down and what was the matter. The dealer told me who it was but he was not a dealer that I recognized……I don’t play as much Craps as I used to. What I DID do, because it was all I COULD do, was fold my hands and started praying. I thank God everyday for all He has given me and I don’t ask Him for much except to watch over my family and I’ll ask Him for special favors whenever any of my friends or family asks for prayers for themselves or someone they know. It’s been my experience that God usually gives me what I ask for which I why I don’t try to bother Him too much. I read about people killing people everyday and it doesn’t bother me. I read, in the paper, about people being killed in car crashes and it makes me sad but doesn’t really affect me…..but I was watching this guy die. I actually started tearing up as I was praying. I asked God to get off the phone or whatever He was doing and pay attention for just a few minutes and let this guy live. Christine was barking orders and she was definitely in command even though she is not one of Delaware Park’s EMT people…..she’s just a player like me. The real EMTs showed up in about 20 minutes with their needles and oxygen masks and computers and finally they were able to get the guy onto a gurney and out of there. I thought he was breathing on his own as they wheeled him out but I couldn’t be sure.
It made me think. In my whole damned career, I made a lot of people happy because I fixed their computer problems and I made a lot of money for the companies I worked for by fixing their computer problems. The salary I made also helped raise and educate my children and, along with my wife’s money, payed for our house and clothes and food but I never saved a life or even came close to it. How personally rewarding that must be !!!
I saw Christine later that night. It turns out that she is a cardiac care nurse. Who knew? I told her how much I admired and respected her for getting involved and taking over control. She told me it is the fourth time she has been there when a customer went down and each time she is amazed at how she has to take control even though the people at Delaware Park are supposed to know what they are doing. I don’t mean to bad-mouth the people at DE Park. It’s just that this happens to be Christine’s specialty.
In any event, Christine told me later that she got word that the guy was awake, alert and in stable condition at the hospital. I told he that she MUST be in the building whenever i am…… just in case it’s my turn.
Christine may be a tad gruff and a little loud, and she may curse like a sailor, but we all have our quirks.
Christine is a real hero….a true life-saver. God bless her.