Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Bucket List Daytrip to Presque Isle Downs and Casino, in Erie, PA.

Well, hello again. As my regular readers know I am in my last couple of weeks of school. This experience is sitting in my head just waiting like an impatient child to burst forth on to my screen. I need to write this so I can clear my mind for school work. This was my first time to visit a casino and there are lots of thoughts I want to share.

Just a little background. I am not, nor will I ever be, a gambler. I need to have control over the outcomes of events in my life with much more certainty, to leave things to chance. I offered my driving services to someone close in my life who is partial to casino's. She is, in the final stages of a battle with cancer and this was an opportunity to aid in a bucket-list type wish fulfillment event. Surely, they could have found other modes of transportation but I offered, and I am glad that I did.

There was some question about going the 90+ miles given the rain on Friday morning. This was not going to stop us from completing this mission. As we headed east on I 90 the rain gave way to fluffy clouds. Upon arrival we availed ourselves of the valet parking service and off we went. The large brick monolith was seemingly dropped into a vast expanse of acreage sitting back off the road surrounded by parking lots and shuttle buses. The building obscured the horse racing track placed further east from the road. I waited for my fellow travelers to join me at the door and in we went.


The second the door opened I was reminded of the days in Ohio before the smoke-free law was enacted. The smell was overwhelming. The next sense to get bombarded was my sight. The sheer number of lights and signs all attempting to lure me over with the promise of winning big was everywhere. Sadly, this is a promise rarely kept. I could almost feel the despair of previous visitors who had come before me and lost hard earned money. Lastly, the sound of electronic, pre-programmed audio files being dispersed via high end speakers built into the rows and rows of slot machines was deafening. Their constant repetitive theme music and artificial bells pierced the normal orderly input of information entering my brain. This was all in the first three seconds.

I quickly pushed aside my misgivings about my surroundings and strolled along behind the guest of honor. She made her way to a black jack table and just wanted to be left alone, in the moment. My other traveling companion and me wandered still deeper into the labyrinth of bright and loud machines. I felt like I had entered into a chapter in my psychology book, where lots of the lessons learned were on display. Surprisingly, there was no type of person who fit a "gambler" profile, and Kenny Rogers was nowhere to be found. All levels of the socioeconomic strata were represented. I felt like I was in another world. What was I not getting? Was I just too uptight? Why was I not feeling this sense of release? Perhaps, a few years of struggling through school trying to keep the lights on and food in the cupboards had built walls that could not be breached by any lights or sounds. I see this as a fruitless pursuit where resources are squandered rarely to become greater than their sum total upon entering such a venue. Sorry, that is just my opinion.

I was able to find comfort at the Southend Bar where I discovered they gave out "free" cups of coffee. Free in a casino is a myth. I was given $20.00 dollars to use in pursuit of the elusive jackpot, which I judiciously spread around several of the penny slots. It was eventually consumed by the machines never to be used by me or anyone else in the productive economy again. I imagine the payroll of the monolith does have some multiplier affect for utilities and mortgage payments and the like, however, I do not believe it creates much wealth. At least for the hourly wage earner employed there.

The guest of honor had her fill of casino action by 2:30 PM and as we were sitting on a bench out front waiting for the car to be brought around she summed up her experience by saying, "As far as casino's go this one is unnh." She had lived for a time in Las Vegas and had become accustomed to their venues. The trip home was highlighted by a stop at the TA at exit 235 on I 90 in Ohio, a "real truck stop." She liked to visit them and look around at the items truckers use, to make their lives a bit easier. I could relate to that having been a long haul trucker myself for some years. I had a chicken fried steak and my partners had biscuits and gravy and a huge Michigan burger (mushroom and Swiss) served on a huge hoagie bun.

The truth is I could of found any number of things to do yesterday. I choose to give my time to someone who doesn't have much left. For all of the things that bothered me while at the casino I did enjoy watching her escape the inexorable hell cancer has in store for her, even if just for a few hours. To the people who work and enjoy Presque Isle Downs & Casino I have no ill-will. It is just not for me. I was treated like a guest and appreciated all your hospitality. I have included a like to their web site for you to get a better idea of their facility.

http://www.casinoinerie.com/home/
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