Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The natives were restless

As some of you know, I’ve been calling bingo at an assisted living center for nearly four years. The residents are generally excited to see me. Their eyes light up and they pat me as I pass, murmuring my name.

But yesterday I gave them a warning. “If you don’t behave yourselves next time, I’m taking my megaphone and walking right out of here!”
I wouldn’t really do it, but the warning wasn’t without justification.

In times past, one of the ladies told me, “If you’ve got any sense left, it ain’t no picnic here. There’s always somebody crying, crapping their pants, or dying.”
And sometimes they’re simply complaining, taking out their frustrations about growing old on the bingo lady, wishing that the highlight of their day wasn’t bingo.

I try to keep an honest game. If I don’t call a number and one of them finds it covered on her board but the others don’t, I don’t let it slide. After all, the winner wins a buck (even if it is Monopoly money). And it’s true that some of them hear 17 when I call 29, so I can’t let anything slide. But it happened not once but twice to a very vocal protester who grumbled at length, thus making it difficult for the hard-of-hearing to hear. When one of the guys got angry at her for getting angry at me, he said, “Jesus!” and then the fight snowballed because, of course, the same someone got angry at him for taking the name of the Lord in vain (although I’ve heard her do the same).
Oh, my. Bingo isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

At any rate, most of the folks enjoy my presence. And as long as I can hear, as I leave, the gentle chuckle of a gentleman saying “Bingo Bonnie” to himself—I’ll just have to grin and bear it.

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