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I'm spending my grandchildren's inheritance!19 August 2010
You've seen those car bumper stickers, "I'm spending my grandchildren's inheritance!" Most people who see that statement smile or laugh; after all, those grey-haired older folks have usually worked very hard for their money and deserve to have some fun with their dough. As they say, "Make bread while the sun shines!"
That bumper sticker works really well on a luxury car too. "See what I'm driving? Take that, son of my son!"
Still, I remember an article published about 10 years ago in the magazine The American Spectator decrying the fact that so many old people went to Atlantic City during the week on buses and trains and by car to gamble at the slots. The writer of the article said all the people had really sad faces as they were throwing away all their retirement income on the one-armed bandits. These poor (as in pathetic) oldsters were sheep being led to the slaughter; seriously depressed lemmings about to leap from a very high cliff to their economic death. Some he seemed to characterize as kind of demented. I don't remember if he used that particular word, but there was a sense of senility to the old people he saw -- at least that is what I recall after all these years.
The men were merely wallets waiting to be waylaid by the casinos; the women were purses the casinos were snatching.
After reading that piece, I took a tour of a weekday Atlantic City in the late spring to see if what I had read was accurate. The old folks were out en masse at this time of the year and their faces looked nothing like what The American Spectator writer had portrayed -- just the opposite. These folks looked quite happy.
Oh, yes, there were some grumpy-looking faces, but my guess was that these people were grumpy at home, at weddings, at parties too. A grump is a grump no matter where he or she is. You can move the grumpy people physically but they always bring the grumpiness with them.
I remember when I used to work as a teacher and some seemingly depressed teenager would say, "I won't be as miserable when I'm an adult; everything will be better." I would tell him or her, "You bring yourself with you into adulthood. You don't change unless you change right now. There are no miracles in the future just because it is the future." True. Most of the idiots in high school are probably still idiots today.
So I walked the Boardwalk and closely watched some of these people catching some sunshine; others sitting on benches catching up on stories and, perhaps, the latest gossip with several of their friends. Some feed those obnoxious, sky-diving, poop-bombing seagulls and those overstuffed pigeons. Other oldsters walked, some with canes, some with walkers, some were being wheeled, and some were power walking too.
Inside, indeed, the majority played the slots, most often 25-cent or lower machines, having cashed their coin vouchers. They waited in the buffet lines with their discounted tickets. No one seemed sad at all, or broke, or depressed.
When I questioned some of them, the answer was almost universally that they loved coming to Atlantic City once a week; once every two weeks; once a month. This was a fun break from their daily routines. It spiced up their lives; gave them something exciting to look forward to. Atlantic City was a thrill ride for them; an elixir of joy.
Now, were these old people actually spending their grandchildren's inheritance? The answer was no. Most gave themselves a certain amount to spend, maybe a hundred to two hundred at most, and they stayed within these limits. They had the magical money management formula. Use little but maximize fun with it.
Interestingly enough, many of them only played one coin in the machines so as to spread out their playing time for as long as possible or to reduce the overall hit on their bankrolls. They were anything but sheep or lemmings. They were just regular people having some fun.
Then I asked myself the questions, "Why shouldn't the senior citizen crowd be able to spend their money on entertainment? Why shouldn't they be able to have some fun gambling in the casinos? Did they lose these rights once they hit 75?"
The answers were simple. It's their money; they should be able to spend it as they wish. I'm not talking about those few with a gambling problem -- most of these tend to be younger people anyway -- but the normal senior citizen who just wants a little juice injected into his or her life.
I am now going out and buying one of these bumper stickers as a symbol of living the life I want to as opposed to the life some depressing writer wants me to lead.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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