PROMPT: Gas Station Casino

PROMPT: Write about an experience you’ve had at a gas station or convenience store.
Taken from 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Do you know what a gas station casino is? Neither did I, until I moved to South Dakota. Out here, gas station casinos are EVERYWHERE. I would estimate that the majority of gas stations in SD have at least one video lottery machine, if not several rooms full of them. In fact, most gas stations have an entire wing of the convenience store dedicated solely to video lottery machines. It is truly one of the weirder cultural aspects of SD as far as I, a person who grew up inside the Beltway, am concerned.

As I am not a gambler, I had no reason to ever set foot in a gas station casino. The only time I had ever been in one was during my brief stint as a gas station attendant (yes, this is a real job I once had), which required me to clean the casino. My assigned tasks were stocking the free snack bowls, vacuuming the nasty carpet, and wiping down the greasy machines. I quit this job after about a week and ran off to Colorado with my boyfriend at the time. The relationship did not work out.

I remained largely indifferent to the existence of gas station casinos until I found myself sitting in the one at “my” gas station (aka the one down the street where I frequently buy snacks, cigarettes, beer, and incense sticks) on a random Sunday afternoon. How did this happen? Well, there’s only one person in this world who could possibly convince me that setting foot in a gas station casino is a great idea. That person is none other than my good friend “Mad Dog.”

I was not planning to hang out with Mad Dog on this particular Sunday. I have no idea what I was planning to do, to be honest. I went to the gas station to buy cigarettes and saw Mad Dog’s beat up old orange bike parked outside. I did not see him when I went inside because he was not in the convenience wing of the building. I asked the gas station attendant if she had seen him and she promptly pointed to a door I’d never noticed before. Imagine my surprise when I walked through this door and discovered a whole half of a building I never knew existed before!

As I’m sure you’ve already realized, this part of the building contained the casino. There were two rooms full of video lottery machines, one smoking and one non. Mad Dog was in the smoking room, of course, chainsmoking his Mavericks and drinking a beer. He was deep in conversation with a Native lady I’d never seen before (who he claims to have dated once when he was much, much younger) and his friend “Crazy Dave.” I’d met Crazy Dave on a number of occasions prior to this. He definitely has that nickname for a reason. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

Mad Dog greeted me happily and immediately offered to buy me a beer. I had no idea that one was allowed to purchase beer from the convenience store and drink it in the casino, but apparently this is encouraged. He walked over to the convenience side, bought me a 24oz can of Bud Light, poured half of it into a plastic cup, and promptly started chain smoking again.

A few minutes later, Crazy Dave and the Native lady returned to their gambling. It was like watching a human turn into a zombie in approximately 10 seconds flat. They spent the next hour sitting at the machines while Mad Dog told me the same set of stories I’ve heard a thousand times. He apologized to me because gas station casinos “don’t have the liveliest of crowds,” which is why he prefers actual bars.

An hour later, Mad Dog went back to the store to buy another pack of cigarettes. He returned with another beer for both himself and me. This is how I ended up drunk at a gas station casino at approximately 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. I did not play on the machines (nor did Mad Dog), but we did watch several people gamble away hundreds of dollars they didn’t have.

Sometime during the second beer, a super trashy white lady and an old Native guy appeared in the casino. The Native guy and Mad Dog chatted for awhile while the lady played the machines, then they switched places. The lady sat down with us at the table, lit up a cigarette, and proceeded to start talking about Donald Trump. She goes on and on for about 20 minutes before returning to the video lottery. The room was silent again. Mad Dog got bored.

“Well, do you wanna finish that beer and head over to Cleo’s?” he asked. “There should be a much livelier crowd in there.”

Before I could respond, he dumped the rest of my beer into the plastic cup and handed it to me. He did the same for his and started for the door. The gas station attendant smiled and waved at us as we left. Both of us walked out of the gas station with open containers in hand. Mad Dog made me carry his down the street to Bloody Mary’s while he rode his bike. He parked his bike and went inside for a drink, leaving me outside with both cups. I sat on the bench outside and finished mine. After about 20 minutes, Mad Dog reappeared and finished his cup. Then we walked around the corner to Cleo’s, only to discover it was closed. The day ended with him returning to Bloody Mary’s and me wandering back to my apartment.

It wasn’t an eventful nor exciting day by any means. In fact, overall it was rather dull, especially for a “drinking with Mad Dog” situation. However, it is the story of the one time I randomly got drunk in a gas station casino, and that’s what makes it interesting.

The End

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