My job description reads, "gift shop clerk," but I'm really a debt pusher. "Gift shop" sounds harmless enough, but this isn't like the ones where cute white-haired ladies sell tiny birch bark canoes, maple fudge and spoon collections.
This one is at a racetrack, where we sell lottery dreams.
We also provide cash advances on credit cards.
That's my other job: last-chance cash advance.
All the social fallout from gambling walks up to our counter and hands me a credit card.
Of course, the vast majority of people who visit the slots are just enjoying an outing, as they would at the movies, the baseball park or the pub.
But it's the people you see every day who are depressing. Those who've found the edge, the hardcore gamblers and slot addicts
There are the horse players, who value their bets far too much to waste them on the chaotic whims of a slot machine, which offends their sense of "sport."
Slot players are a different breed. "You pays your money and you takes your chances." It's a weird relationship we share.
Bingers are the worst. You send them in with twice your week's wages and they're back 15 minutes later asking for another round. It's a drag handing over cash when people say they've lost everything. But I don't measure the doses. The bank does that.
Those who hit the jackpot usually make a big payment on their credit cards, and the bank responds by upping their limit.
It amazes me how many people break the golden rule: don't gamble on credit.
That's something a grandmother might say. But then again, I serve a lot of grandmothers.
On this busy Friday night, one of our notorious bingers is in the house. He hands me his card. "Two thousand," he says, fingers tapping nervously on the counter, eyes fixed on the credit card terminal.
"Declined. Sorry," I say, glancing at the line behind him, the endless stream of familiar faces, all of them trying to dig themselves out of a hole that keeps getting deeper with each swipe.