From the Editor
THE LUCK OF THE DRAW
In the Poker Room and in Life, You Must Play the Hand You’re Dealt
It’s before dawn, and the wind chill is 40 below. My eyes water and the tears freeze to my face as shoulders instinctively hunch into the biting cold. In the grim grayness, my truck at first resists the urge to wake up, preferring instead to roll over and die in a frigid snowbank. The icy thoroughfares of this downtown Midwest metropolis are bleak and deserted, the east-west streets swept clean by a howling wind, the north-south ones icy and crunchy. No school for the kids, it’s just too cold – dangerously so. That means moms and dads might be staying home too. But at the casino, it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The show must go on. And unlike everywhere else, the place will be packed on this god-forsaken morning – they’re giving away free waffle-makers.
I wonder if I’ll survive till the heat comes on in the truck. Right now it’s just blowing subzero air. I can’t feel my face and the gloves aren’t helping.
A homeless guy with a weathered cardboard sign appears out of the darkness. Something about food. Where do they come from? I wonder … Where do they go? How does he stand the frigid pain? I mean, I had trouble taking it for five minutes, and I was prepared for it and well-fed.
So … Suddenly my job doesn’t seem so bad.
Luck and Math drive my profession. Chance rules the next hand, the next roll, the next spin, but Math will almost always have the final say.
I look at the homeless guy. While I know that I’ll be warm soon, his time is short. This cold kills. He’ll have to score a few bucks quickly and find an open fast-food joint, grab a coffee, and sip it slowly … till they kick him out. But really, it occurs to me, what separates me from him? Much as I’d like to brag about life-planning or the hard work I’ve put in – or even a bit of natural talent – when you come right down to it, I’ve gotten some lucky breaks. I’ve been in the right place at the right time: a fortunate phone call, a chance meeting, a tip … maybe an overheard word here or there that changes everything, or being interviewed by one person instead of another… An email that doesn’t go to spam, or does…
Think about it as you ride in your own warm, comfortable vehicle. Do you really think it was all you, that it was your hard work that kept you from the street? Perhaps you are just the fortuitous recipient of a good roll in the biggest crapshoot of all, the gene pool, while that homeless gentleman was dealt a bad hand, such as mental issues, from which he will never recover. You, however, were born with the genes for a marketable skill or simply for the ability to work hard, and just maybe had parents who helped rather than hurt.
Getting the genes was all luck. Having them is the “Math” of your life, and Math wins. Congratulations! You’re the “house” this time around, while the ragged man holding the cardboard sign is the gambler trying to beat the odds day after day.
I look in my rearview mirror. The homeless guy has receded into the background.
Maybe I should go back. Yes, he looks like he could use a cup of coffee.