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Talking to Strangers: Las Vegas

June 1, 2015

Special guest post by Aaron

Kristin and I took a long weekend getaway to Las Vegas. We don’t really gamble a lot, so we just relaxed, went to the pool, did some work, and toured around. On the way back to the room last night we stopped by the craps table and threw down $100, expecting to lose it in 45 minutes. I was down to about $60 when a guy rolled up next to me with $5000. He put $100-500 on every pass line with full odds bets to back it up, and splashed a few hundred in the middle of the table between every roll.

Around this time I became the hot shooter at the table. I would go on ridiculous streaks, winning the pass line like 8 times in a row. Table was going nuts, crowds were drawing, pit bosses were hovering. People were skipping their rolls to get back to me. Lots of high fives, fist bumps, and manic hollering.

Sometimes I wouldn’t hit the point for maybe a dozen rolls, and the dude next to me was making tens of thousands off of his place and hard way bets (at some point he upped his bets and probably had $5k+ on the table at a given time). He started throwing down hard way bets for “the shooter” (me) along with his, and we kept hitting them (his delirious scream of “SQUUUAAAARRRESSS!” when a hard eight hit was a highlight of the night). He was even throwing down chips for my odds bets, which I was not doing initially to stretch out our $100 of funny money. My rack kept filling up, and Kristin kept putting $100 chips in her purse to bank winnings. I started stuffing my pockets with them as well. When I left I still had to “color up” because I couldn’t carry all the remaining chips. Everybody shook my hand, including the pit boss.

I met up with the guy at the cashier later, and he said he was up around $75,000, mostly based off of my shooting. His wife gave me a hug. Kristin and I made enough to pay for the entire trip, with maybe 75% of that coming from the bets my man was throwing down for me. Cool.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

FeaturedPeopleTalking to Stangers

Talking to Strangers: Bushmills, Northern Ireland

September 3, 2013

Derrick and Gabrielle were entwined as they walked into the hotel bar a little after 11 pm. Gabrielle was lovely in that way I imagine all French women are, confident and sophisticated, even in a black t-shirt that reminded me of something Chrissie Hynde would wear. They were celebrating Derrick’s 32nd birthday, although he looked years older to me. The former footballer turned contractor was a motorcycle enthusiast and operated a pub out of his parents’ garage just south of Dublin. Like us, they were here on holiday.

We bought the next round and toasted to Derrick, who was in the middle of another madcap story.

“Can you understand what he’s saying?” Gabrielle asked me quietly.

“Yes,” I leaned in to answer. “But it’s hard, and I have to see his lips.”

Gabrielle had only been in the country a couple of months and was still having trouble with the accent. She confessed she only half understood what Derrick said, but it didn’t seem to bother her. She was from Brittany and worked in international development. She traveled quite a bit and wanted to swap stories. I told her about our trips to England and Spain and, of course, Ireland.

“Sometimes I’m reluctant to travel if I don’t know the language.” Now it was my turn for confession. “I think sometimes I’m uncomfortable about being American and traveling, and I worry about what people will think.”

“What do you think people think of me?” She shrugged. That Gabrielle would feel any insecurity about her own nationality and identity was a revelation. But she also told me, if you travel you will always be a foreigner, and for her that was natural. As a Breton she often felt like an outsider in her own country. “Even if you don’t know the language, people find a way to reach out to you. They will find a want to communicate.”

Derrick ordered the next round and invited us to his garage bar the next time we were in Dublin. The conversation waned. He pulled Gabrielle close, nuzzling her. She smiled as they kissed.

People find a way.