Dec 8

Tadaima #4 – Put it all on Black!

My name is Rick Ambrosio (Ibaraki-ken, 2006-08).  And whether readjusting to post-JET life is something you’re facing now, will deal with in the future or if you just enjoy reconnecting with that awkwardly uncertain feeling you had when you got back from Japan, come along with me as I look for a new job, a new apartment, and yes, mow the lawn of my parent’s house.  Tadaima!

“WHEEL…. OF…… FORTUNE!!!!”  I yelled in a haze of alcohol and bright flashing lights.  A small crowd gathered around my cousin and I as we played “The Wheel of Fortune” slot machine.

We were in Atlantic City for my cousin’s girlfriend’s birthday, and since mine was a couple days away, sure, mine too.  I know I know, here I am, unemployed, in a place people go to burn money, when I could be sending out more resumes and following more leads, but instead I’m down 60 bucks, four drinks in the hole, and hitting on my cousin’s girlfriend’s sister.  I suppose I really should be… WHEEL….. OF….. FORTUNE!!!!  Okay, down 48 bucks now.

It’s sort of funny when I try to draw parallels between gambling in America and the Pachinko parlors of Japan.  Like the advice from people you know on how to “hit it big.”  My uncle told me that you should watch the board and just bet black or red at the roulette tables.  A Japanese co-worker of mine assured me that he paid his way through college by playing Pachinko early in the morning before the regular players could get in.

What they both had in common was the loud noises and neon illumination used to create artificial excitement and loosen the pocket strings of everyone in earshot.  People were up and down, rich and then poor again.  It was a sea of sensory overload that turned the volume down on the rest of your life.  I’m not sure if they allowed drinking in Pachinko parlors back in Japan, but they sure let it flow in the casinos in Atlantic City.  Not that I was complaining.

Two days later I found myself in the back seat of my cousin’s car, just outside the city limits of AC as we started heading home.  We all lost some money, drank a lot of alcohol, and I was enjoying the coy grin on my cousin’s girlfriend’s sister’s face whenever she looked my way.  All felt pretty right with the world.  Until, of course, my cousin started talking.

“You know, I don’t have work tomorrow.  What about you guys?”  Apparently no one was working in the morning.  All of a sudden there was a buz of excitement between the three of them.  The girls wanted to see the boardwalk.  My cousin wanted to see The Taj.  Before I knew it plans to turn the car around and reserve a new hotel for another night were being made.  The excitement was palpable.  Theirs, at least.

As we pulled into a convince store, all I could think of were the costs:  hotels, food, booze, gambling.  Without cash coming in, this “round two” just sounded like a money pit.  I slowly but sternly began telling the group that I was not comfortable with going back.  I could see the smiles slide off their faces as I complained that we’d just be doing the same thing over again.  My cousin laughed uncomfortably, his girlfriend was silent, and her sister no longer had a coy grin on her face.  That’s right folks, the party pooper had arrived, and his name was Rick Ambrosio.

I felt a little guilty, being the unemployed one, having to stop everyone’s fun.  But after a little while, they slowly came to their senses, realizing it would be tough to get to work tomorrow with traffic, and getting people back to Long Island and Connecticut.  Truth be told by the time we were on the LIE, they were thanking me, and the car ride home was full of embarrassing stories about me and my cousin as well as some anecdotes on Japan.

All and all I was a fun time, even though I had never gone gambling before and don’t consider myself a gambler.  I did come out of this with one great idea though.  They should get that slot machine I was playing over to Japan ASAP.  “WI–RU…. OBBU…… FO–CHU-N!!!!!!”

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