Friday, September 17, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

On Graveyards and Natural Light 

I was manning the Let It Ride table on my second ever graveyard shift when something really interesting occurred to me. My mind was wandering mainly because in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning there aren't all that many customers. Sometimes I wonder why they bother to keep the non-standard games open at off-peak times like 5am on a Tuesday.

Here's how it works. $5 Blackjack is without contest the most popular table(s) in the casino. You will always be able to find people at those tables. First of all, it's the cheapest table game you can indulge in. Secondly, it's really really really simple compared to the other games. Then there are always people at the slot machines. Now I never figured out slot machines so I can't explain its allure. Then there are the other table games that all-in-all require that you risk a little more money on average to play. It is those games that will undoubtedly have players during peak and near-peak hours, but empty out as the night wanes on.

Being that I was running one of these less popular games, my last customer left to catch his ferry to the island at around 6am. I was to get off work at 7:30am so I had a good one and a half hours to muse on various topics. According to most of my colleagues, one and a half hours on a graveyard on Let it Ride is pretty damn good. Usually customers desert the table at around three or four in the morning. I'll have to admit that it certainly wasn't my magnetic personality that kept the people at my table. Rather, it was the fact that this particular person liked Let it Ride and that he had a 6:30am ferry to catch. So I was lucky. Nonetheless, I still had a good 90 minutes of nothing doing.

There are no windows in a casino. Just thinking about it, one can appreciate that it eases the passage of time for the occupied. The other, undesirable effect of course would be that you are in a room with no windows. The strategy that the casino employs to counteract that is rather strange. I think people would for sure automatically notice being in a room with no windows and blank or relatively unadorned walls. They might not conciously notice the difference, but I'm sure that something will be triggered in their minds, making the room a less desirable place to spend time in. Simply put, the lack of windows will almost definitely result in less time spent in the room mainly because we are somehow attuned to being shut in. How many (and what dimension) windows do they have in a prison cell? What about solitary? An interrogation room? You get the idea.

This would obviously be detrimental to a casino seeing as how the best profits are made when customers linger for a long time. So what do they do? They paint the walls so that it looks like the outdoors. This solution seems incredibly simplistic given that the lights in the casino are orange and very removed from the spectrum of natural light. However, it does remove the feeling of being enclosed. The murals are rather crude upon close inspection, but I'm willing to wager (and I bet this is exactly what the casino has done) that no one in a casino will be paying too much attention to the walls. The idea is that your peripheral vision glimpses bits of sky, clouds and a few ill-defined Douglas Firs. That, my friend, has the effect of tricking you into believing that you are not being confined in a box. So basically the idea is that because no one would be looking at the walls head-on anyway, all they have to do is to make sure that everyone's lateral vision registers images that the brain will associate with being outdoors. Tricky, tricky.

That being said, it is the most unnerving thing to enter a casino while it is dark and exit it when the sun is shining. I don't reccommend that anyone try it anytime soon unless, of course, they are assigned to work a graveyard shift at the casino.

On a completely unrelated note, school is great! I've just turned in my first assignment of the year. I attended review classes and office hours, did my research and several drafts and I'm loving it. I have two assingments due next week and I'm positively glowing just thinking about it. The best part about all of this is that I don't even have to try and suck up to the professors. My natural enthusiasm seems to be obvious to even the most ambivalent. This will certainly come in useful when the time comes for letters of reccommendation.

posted by Joie! at 4:43 p.m.


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