Selfless dad: A tough job, but the rewards are worth it

By John Toth
Bulletin Publisher

I’m in this cavernous room with hundreds of people and lots of noise. I have not been in one of these places in decades, since my wife, Sharon, dragged me out after I lost $60 in five minutes playing blackjack.
The casino is huge. I’m in Biloxi, Mississippi, visiting my son, Bobby, at Keesler Air Force Base, where he works as a medic. I thought I should do my parental duty of checking on him and making sure that he is OK.
Biloxi and surrounding area provide an interesting make-up. I don’t play golf, so the fact that there are ample opportunities here doesn’t do much for me. The city does have three mega casinos and many smaller ones. And, it has an Air Force base.
The rest of the place looks like a small town.
Growing up in big cities in Europe and the U.S., I find this ideal, although I can see how the casino scene, no matter how glamorous, can get old week after week. But I like small town living and big town accommodations nearby.
In the Biloxi area, it’s all in one.
I moved out of the big city many years ago because I could not stand it. Everything is a big hassle. You have to wait for the elevator. There is traffic everywhere.
Getting in and out of places takes too long. Driving into the city is a nightmare.
Each time I now visit a big city like New York, Houston, Vienna, or Budapest, I thoroughly enjoy it because I know that it’s temporary. There are a lot of things to do, and I can put up with the inconvenience of traffic and parking for a while.
Then I return to my small city of Angleton, just south of Houston, where the only time there is a traffic jam is when school lets out.
The first thing I notice when I’m in a big city is that the drivers are more aggressive, temperamental and rude. I also notice that once I get used to it, I can keep up with the faster pace, although it is really nice to return to the slower and more friendly driving in the boonies.
In a small town that’s fairly close to a big city, I can have my cake and eat it, too.
So, here I am in Biloxi – two towns in one – being a responsible dad, counseling my son at the craps table. I gave him $40 to lose, so I’m not sweating it. That’s all there is. When it’s gone, we’ll go eat.
He is winning. We’re up. Bobby has always been luckier than the rest of us – plus he knows how to play the game. That helps. The last time I was pushing money into a slot machine, it would have killed the casino to give me three fruit. I wasn’t asking for the jackpot, just one little match.
We quit being up a few hundred dollars. It was a great evening of making sure my son gets in a better mood. A dad has to do what a dad has to do.
The next night we do it again. This time he loses the $50 I give him, but I win $140 at the slots. The trip now is complete. I am being treated with respect by the one-armed bandit.
Important lessons learned:
I really like Biloxi’s make-up; Most of the one-armed bandits don’t have an arm anymore; The penny slots’ minimum bet is 30 cents; I have no idea what to do at the craps table; It takes a long time for a casino waitress to show up with my free adult beverage; I hate driving for seven hours; It pays to always be there for my children.
I have some more “counseling” to do at the next casino. I should have become a psychologist. I am a natural at this.