Shooting craps at the end of days

Posted: December 2, 2009 in 21st century life, Economy
Tags: ,

Nothing loosens the purse strings faster than the threat of financial oblivion. At least that’s how it was for me.

One week I found out my company was being sold. The next weekend I was shooting craps at Mohegan Sun. (Well, not actually shooting craps, but gambling nonetheless.)

Admittedly, I had already planned the trip to Connecticut—but I could have retrenched and reconsidered. Instead, there I sat, pulling the lever on the $1 slots. (I gradually worked my way down to the 25¢ machines and then to the 1/4¢ slots.) Even after my gambling companion was clearly finished with the place, I was still going strong. I could have been mistaken for one of Pavlov’s dogs, pushing a blue button and salivating every time the bell went off.

No, I did not win any money—or, rather, I lost more than I won. I had a promising streak on the poker machines, but when my friend ran out of money, I felt guilty for making her wait. The night ended at 1:30 AM, with the two of us standing at the end of a concrete walkway, waiting for our ride back to the hotel. Plenty of folks were still arriving at that hour, as car after car pulled into the valet lane. I couldn’t help but wonder how much money the casino takes in on a good night. If there is any comfort in having lost all my cash, it is knowing that the casino is owned by Native Americans. At least I’m doing my part to make amends for the white man screwing them over.

I spent the rest of the weekend lying in bed watching TV and reading. Then Sunday rolled around and it was back to reality—specifically, the certainty that the company I work for will be sold to a competitor within 10 days or so. At a meeting about the sale, employees were reassured that “most of us” would be offered the same jobs at the new company (but not necessarily at the same salary). We will then pack up the contents of our offices and cubicles and move a good distance away from our current location—adding a significant amount of time and frustration to many commutes.

The most disturbing fact gleaned from this meeting is that, should I choose not to accept a position with the new company, my severance package will equal a mere 12 weeks of pay—one week for every year I have worked. That’s three months of “security” in which to find a new job in media, line up health insurance, and recover from the trauma. Yes, I would qualify for unemployment, but at the going rate for New York State, the unemployment checks would not even allow me to pay my rent.

Reconsidered in light of these facts, my fling at Mohegan Sun doesn’t seem so crazy. With a little luck, I might have come out better after shooting craps than working 12 long years on the job.

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