Monday, March 12, 2012

Rest stop

I stopped for something to eat on the Thruway the other day, and found myself at something of a loss for words while talking to a stranger. It was an odd enough conversation to recount here.

Another guy and I were waiting for the Arby's staff to fill our orders. The cashier had that bored teenager look that we all know so well, and the other guy asked her about being thrilled to be at work on a Saturday night instead of being out. I said something clever along the lines of "At least she has a job."

Then my new pal mentioned that he didn't have a job at the moment (I think he'd been looking for some weeks), for essentially the first time in about 20 years. What's more, his wife -- waiting at a nearby booth for dinner -- wasn't working either. The guy went on to say that his wife's position at a calling center had been eliminated, and that while she had been offered a job and a $2 per hour raise in Albany, she didn't really want to go there. It was, he concluded, a long commute. No argument there.

Then it turned interesting. The wife in question had taken part of her severence check from the company, headed for the casino, and won something like $2,000 more. Not satisfied with that, she went back a couple of nights later and lost $600 back. And they were headed there again that night.

That's where I was at a loss for words. I had the urge to butt into this guy's life and say, "Are you crazy? You and your wife are both out of work, and she is betting enough to win or lose hundreds of dollars a night?"

After a little thought, I mumbled, "That's playing with fire." His response was, "Yeah, but that's where she wants to go." Dinner was served, and they ate and headed for the slot machines or wherever.

It's sometimes difficult to remember to let people make their own mistakes in life. It's less difficult to remember that common sense sometimes isn't so common.

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