Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Going blind in the Bingo Hall
Those of you who spend thousands of dollars a year so that your child might dance, play hockey, sing in a choir, partake in tae kwon do, horseback ride, be part of a softball, archery or swimming team - might be familiar with Hometown Bingo. Hometown Bingo is legalized gambling where local groups/charities work each bingo and then the bingo hall distributes a percentage of that cash earned to each group/charity. Yes, Hometown Bingo - where smoking has been banned for years, yet its lingering stench remains embedded in the DNA of the building and one can find one dozen handicapped parking spots out front.
David worked a shift one night and upon his return home, immediately donated $50 to a gambling addiction charity.
"This is MESSED UP," he said. "Those people look like they don't have two loonies to rub together and they are plunking down $50 on Bingo cards."
"I know. Crazy."
My job at Hometown Bingo? To run to those who call "BINGO!!!" and then convey the card number on their winning card to the bingo caller, by using my big-ass diaphragm to read them out:
"ONE! SIX! EIGHT!! THREE!!"
"That is a good bingo. Any others? Going once, going twice... this game is now closed."
This bingo runner job is a tad more difficult to do when one has gone blind. Not 100% blind, mind you, but 50% migraine-induced-travelling-blindness, taking out one's peripheral vision and making the rest of the world seem like Swiss cheese on LSD sort of blindness. This particular bout of blindness hit me unexpectedly, possibly due to slightly flickering fluorescent lighting in the bingo hall.
I bent down to grab money from my purse and knew when my frontal lobe started feeling funky that I'd better reach for my drugs at the same time. By the time I came out of my purse with a toonie for a Twix bar and two travel vials of drugs - my vision was abandoning me. Sucking back some water, I easily swallowed the ibuprofen, but the round, red acetaminophen pills - three of them, I think - were stuck in the bottom of the travel vial. I banged the container on my hand. No luck. I banged it on the desk. Nope. I found a plastic knife and tried to dig them out. What I really needed was a skewer... Fuck it! I threw the vial on the floor behind the desk... after four tries, I finally heard the pills rattle loosely inside. I had just managed to swallow two pills when I heard "BINGO!!!"
I looked up and tried to see where the voice had come from. I couldn't see anyone's hand up. Where was she? Where was... There was a hand... over... there... I thought. I started walking towards her, hoping that I wouldn't run into a pillar if it suddenly disappeared from my vision. I walked as quickly as I could without losing my balance and approached the woman. She proffered a small rectangular piece of paper. This was not a bingo card, it was a Pick 8 receipt - about 4 x 3 inches. I'd never had to read this type of card - what the hell was I supposed to do with it?
"Read the date," the woman whispered to me.
The date... the dancing, wobbly date... "MARCH 23RD!"
"Read the session," she whispered again.
"You have to go over to another player and double check the numbers on the top."
"I have to what?"
The bingo caller now jumped in, "You have to verify with another player." Then I think she indicated moving somewhere with her chin - or her shoulder - might have been a breast...
I staggered over to another little old lady.
"You need to read these numbers here," she whispered, pointing.
Right. Line after line of numbers all dancing before my eyes. I opened my eyes very wide, hoping that might help. Okay, I could do this. The date was up at the top and the numbers were... "Which numbers?"
"These, dear... 36..."
The little old lady was looking at me like I was on crack.
"13, 26, 35, 42..."
"13, 26, 35, 42!!!"
"That is a good bingo. This game is now closed."
I couldn't see their looks of pity, but I could feel them. And as I walked back to the desk I heard, "Poor dear, she can't read."