Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Yesterday my coworkers and I took our semi-annual trip to Reno for an evening of comraderie, booze, and cards. I like my coworkers a lot, and since we all work from our homes, which are scattered across Northern California, I don't see them very often. Consequently, these trips are a blast with lots of laughs. Much of that humor will lose its effectiveness in the transition from the blackjack table to this blog, not to mention the transition from boozy to sober, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Last time we went to Reno, Coworker X sank to nearly unrecognizable levels of depression when it took him a whopping SIX HOURS to get dealt his first blackjack. This time he got one in a few minutes. He immediately jumped up from his chair and performed a cartwheel right there in the blackjack pit. It was, most probably, the first gymastic manuever performed by a 42 year-old computer programmer in the Atlantis Casino. Thankfully the pit bosses didn't see this unconventional display of excitement. They enjoy unscripted moments of spontaneous exuberance about as much as airport security guards.

In general, we're a pretty chatty bunch of gamblers. We'll engage the pit bosses, dealers, and cocktail waitresses in our witty geeky banter. Sometimes they love it and sometimes they just ignore us.

If the dealer seems to be enjoying us, I'll often ask him/her to rate us, as dealees, on a scale from 1 to 10. This exchange always either feeds my ego, or lets me delight in dealer-inflicted flagellation. One dealer yesterday, named Larry, was happily bantering along with us when I popped the rating question. He hemmed and hawed and toyed with us, refusing to give up a number. However, several minutes later, as I departed the table for the restroom, he called to me and mouthed "ten". Larry knows how to maximize his tips.

My interactions with the cocktail waitresses didn't go so smoothly. I started off by ordering a Jack Daniels and Coke. Because I'm so cool, I called it a "Coke and Jack". The waitress looked at me like I was from the Planet Geek (Greetings!), and made me explain exactly what I wanted. "Oh!" she finally exclaimed, "Jack and Coke!!" She shook her head exasperatedly and moved on to the more socially adept members of our table.

Later, when another cocktail waitress came by to deliver drinks, I noted her name-tag and thanked her by name. "Thanks, Holly!" I said, glad to have had a non-embarrassing exchange. Of course I promptly took it to the next obvious awkward level by following up with, "So, is it nice when customers call you by name, or creepy?"

She paused for a moment or two, and then said, "Well... I guess I've gotten used to it."

My coworkers unanimously agreed that that was code for "You are creepy." I called her "Miss" the rest of the night. I try to keep the stalker factor down to a minimum.

Finally, when the table talk would eventually turn to our professions, everyone at the table always wanted our advice on how to rid their PCs of spyware. Dealers, pit bosses, and blackjacks players of all shapes and sizes have tremendous issues with viruses, spam, and spyware on their PCs. Naturally they turn to the boozy programmers at the table to solve their problems.

An older couple at one of the tables really wanted to know how to browse the Internet without getting their PC mucked up with all the spyware. I recommended that they stop using IE and start using the newly released Mozilla browser, Firefox.

"Martha," the husband started, "can you remember that? Firebox. We need Firebox"

I did my best to redirect them to FireFOX and not Firebox, but I'm pretty sure that they're going to have a hell of a time browsing the internet with some sort of fiery box.

Anyway, I lost a bunch of money, but I had a great time. I'd like to thank all of my codependent coworkers. I'd also like to thank the Atlantis Casino for not yet noticing that I'm counting cards. It probably helped that I suck at it.

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