I'm broaching good manners here, I know. Unseemly. Granted, it has been a while since I was asked how much we paid for our farm or what kind of pay a writer makes, so I'll move from the tangent to the theme.
Tuesday was Pub Poker. The usual suspects, although many of the regulars were not there. It's summer, and the numbers dwindle. After all, it is not Vegas, and, aware the sun is still shining, most folks would rather enjoy it while they can, for the rainy season will be here again before you know it. Plus, maybe there's something in recreational players that says poker should be played after dark.
We had fourteen runners. I usually get there early and eat a sandwich in the rig while I wait for folks to start showing up. When they do, I mosey up to the door and hang out with the folks grabbing a last cigarette. One of these smokers was holding three lighters between his fingers. Sticking the cig in his mouth, he uses one lighter as flint to ignite another that only provided butane. Comments were made. He provided justifications. It was remarked that he had walked off with someone's lighter the previous week. Chuckling, he admitted such but did not offer to hand it over this week.
The duration of the game was short, due more to the few players than the time between hands. A lot of chatter as people catch up, gossip and pontificate. The conversation included the employment lines at the cannery, the lines more clusters, but plural in that they were in place two days. It was said that folks camped in the parking lot the night before the first run on applications for the 300 slots available. I had seen the first day's group and estimate there were that many waiting for the three months of work that would be offered.
The guy who won Tuesday night's game is unemployed. The $30 certificate will provide a few meals at the Chinese restaurant that hosts the game. Now, you are most likely thinking that $30 has in no way been covered by the fourteen players, let alone pay for the bartender and general overhead. I know I was, so when I was handed my $15 certificate for taking second, I sought out the owner and handed it over.
"You want to eat?"
"No." I thanked her for her generosity, told her how grateful we were just to have a place to play poker, and that I would be happy to accept the prize when the size of the group grows in the autumn (next week is the last game until September). Perhaps having alreadyworked out the numbers, she did not try to hand the piece of paper back to me, but did counter:
"Next time, I remember. I make you sweet-sour pork you like."
I do not particularly care for that dish.
On the way home I began to think that I had perhaps made a cultural no-no.