Last week I had two experiences that ended with opposite endings to what I normally expect.
I went to the Rivers Casino here in Pittsburgh. I’m not a gambler. In the many years the casino has existed this is my third trip. The first was when it opened, just to see this new addition to my city. The next two times for the buffet (which is a different type of gambling, I suppose). I play low stakes poker with friends occasionally, but I’m far too intimidated to sit down at a professional table with strangers. Slot machines are hungry beasts that have never been my friends. But I was there, for the food, because on my previous trip I had been given a coupon for a free buffet. Twenty dollars worth of free is a good thing. I tipped my waitress five bucks and then walked through the casino to go back to my car. On a whim I stuck a dollar in a penny slot machine. Fifteen cent bet, no luck. Second fifteen cent bet... ding ding ding, lights, and sirens! I hit for $6.70. Pretty good return on a fifteen cent investment. I cashed out because quit while you’re ahead, right? So I left, full of buffet and, minus the tip, $1.70 more than I walked in with.
A couple of days later I made a trip to the library, which I do a lot of. I read a lot, and the library is free. I still need to occasionally buy books for my collection, but the library has saved me thousands of dollars in my lifetime. I had a book on hold, The Crow’s Dinner by Jonathan Carroll, one of my favorite authors. It’s a large collection of his short blogs, most of which first appeared on Medium.com. I followed it for years. While there I stumbled across a new book about David Bowie called Forever Stardust. Within five or ten minutes of reading each of them I knew I needed to own them. They cost more than the dollar seventy from my casino windfall.
I can’t help but feel I still came out ahead.