Because our plans fell through a couple of times last night, a friend and I decided to head to a local casino for a few hours. I don’t really go to casinos, except when I’m in Vegas and only to pass through, but Friend is an avid slot machine player who likes to visit Hotel Panama and Veneto a couple of times a week, which means free valet parking for us.
Once we arrive, Friend heads to a row of machines and plants herself in front of her favorite. I proceed to walk around, buy an expensive glass of (cheap) red wine and get a lay of the land. Apparently, Veneto is known for the abundance of women — prostitutes and sugar-daddy seekers alike — who hang out looking for men. It’s kind of creepy to see so many women sitting in slot machine seats, not playing, but rather surveying the crowd for Mister Moolah. In my purple sundress, cropped sweater, ponytail and size B cup, I stick out like a sore thumb amidst the too-tight tube dresses overflowing with cleavage. Of course I’ve seen women with boob jobs before, but the women who tend to get them in the States look different. There women are more apt to be a size 2 or 4 with huge boobs. Here they’re more of a size 12 or 14 with naturally ample breasts; augmentation takes them from big to OMG.
Anyway, I’m kind of shocked as I walk around the casino, checking everything out and looking at various machines. At one point, I pass a Wheel of Fortune machine and happen to notice that there’s a credit on it. Strange, I think. Perhaps someone forgot they had money in it and left. I look around and don’t see anyone. So I hit the “cash out” button and take the ticket over to Friend. “Hey, I just made $43.50 and I didn’t even gamble anything.” “Great,” Friend says focused on her machine. “Where is the cashier?” I ask. Friend points me in that direction and I cash out. Free money is great.
But as I head back to Friend, two women approach me. One of them points right at me and tells the other one, “That’s her.” At this point the other woman proceeds to yell at me. I know what’s happening right away and don’t even try to play dumb. The money I took from the machine belongs to her and she wants it back. I apologize — a few times — and explain that there was no indication that someone was still using the machine. Four security guards surround us and Victim explains that she went to use the bathroom and that I robbed her while she was gone. Whatever. I return her money right away and split, heading back to Friend. I tell Friend what happened and she explains that people usually do something to show they’re returning to a machine, like tilt the chair to lean on it. I tell her I didn’t see any sign.
I think the situation is over until Security Guard Enrique approaches me and asks me to leave the casino. I try to defend myself in Spanish but lack full self-expression so I ask him if he speaks English. He says he does a little bit at which point I which languages and sternly repeat that I didn’t know anyone was using the machine. I promise that he won’t have any more trouble with me and tell him leave me alone. Enrique replies, “Ok” and goes away. Phew, totally embarrassing moment — wherein Enrique has to drag me out of the casino — avoided.
Truth be told, I thought it might not be ok to take the money when I saw the machine. But sometimes I like to see if I can get away with stuff. I did look around, walked slowly over to my friend, had a short conversation with her and then meandered to the cashier. I figured I was giving someone ample time to come up to me. Well, obviously not enough time for someone who was using the restroom. Next time, I keep my hands on my own machine and order a gin and tonic instead.