On the way home from family Thanksgiving festivities, our flight stopped for about an hour at scenic Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. And by "scenic," I mean "dark, depressing and filled with people trying to gamble away every last nickel before boarding their flights back to the Midwest."
(If you haven't had the pleasure of dropping by McCarran yourself, the terminals are lousy with slot machines, and the slot machines are constantly busy.)
So, obviously, I was inspired to give Lady Luck a whirl and waste a few minutes on the 25-cent slots. Here's where I was smart about it: I didn't want to get too deep into a hole, so I set a limit: One dollar.
Big player that I am, though, I was going to go for it and bet the full 25 cents per spin. First spin: nothing. Second spin: zilch. Third spin: Nope.
Aw, man, I thought. I've lost 75 cents. How am I going to explain this to my super-amazing wife?
Down to my last 25 cents, I hit the Bet button one more time: A blue 7, a red 7 and a white 7! Jackpot! I had won $1.25! Oh, the feeling! I hit the Cash Out button and carried my ticket up to the redemption window. "Buck twenty-five, please," I proudly said to the cashier. "I'll take it in paper and silver."*
I found my wife in line at the airport shop, where she was about to buy a bottle of water, and I told her about my good fortune. "I guess that means you should probably pay for this," she said.
What I learned from the whole joyous experience was far more valuable than my 25 cent winnings. (Which, now that I think about it, isn't saying that much.) What I took away was an affirmation that it's important to know when to walk away - a lesson that I wish I could have shared a few years ago with Terrance Watanabe.
Who's Terrance, you might ask? He's the guy who did this.
* I didn't really say this. But I was thinking it.