Wednesday morning, October 26, 2016.
At McDonald’s for a cup of the world’s best coffee (Good morning, Chris!) and listening to a group of old white guys talking about the election. Different McDonald’s, different group of old white guys. These guys’ conversation is refreshing. Their only interest in Clinton versus Trump is in which way to bet.
Right now their money’s on Clinton. Literally. These guys are gamblers. Most of their conversation’s been about actual horse races. They’ve been discussing which horses to bet on in which races today. One of them is also a high-stakes poker player.
High-stakes is relative. He wins or loses a thousand bucks, give or take, on any given night when he sits down to play. Right now he’s focused on a trip out to Vegas he’s planning. He’s been looking into air fares. He’s found some good deals but he’s complaining about how much various airlines charge for checking baggage. Twenty bucks a bag, one of them wants.
One of the other guys finds his irritation funny. “You'll fly out for a card game, probably blow a thousand bucks on poker, that’s on top of the plane tickets, hotel, and food, and you won't spend twenty bucks to check a bag?”
Poker player’s unfazed. These little things add up, he says. Save twenty bucks here and there, it ends up paying for the other things. Besides, he puts it all on the credit card, so he gets lots of rewards points and frequent flyer miles. These add up too.
That’s been their other main point of discussion. How to rack up rewards points and bonus cash on their credit cards. These guys must all have pretty good credit scores because they all have multiple cards. One of them says he puts everything on the card. Groceries, gas, the utility bills. Pays it all off at the end of the month and just watches the benefits pile up. He says his wife understands the logic of this but can’t bring herself to follow his lead.
The poker player is a bit of a contrarian. Likes to go his own way. He makes his decisions about which ponies to bet based on what he reads in the Daily News in the morning and not what they all talk about when they get together like this. One of the other guys is put out by this. He regards himself as the expert and thinks the poker player would do better listening to his advice.
“Who put you on the fucking races to begin with?”
“I put you on the races, right?”
“I’m just saying.”
What he’s just saying is that the other day, making his bets on his own, according to his own system, he won fifty-three dollars. Two of his horses came in.
Can’t argue with that.
The guys have a mutual friend named Tommy Two-Gun. They turn to talking about Tommy whom one of them doesn’t know. Tommy, it’s explained to him, is much to be admired for his broad breadth of knowledge and the way he’s always expanding it. Tommy is “the eyes and ears of the world.”
“Every fucking thing you want to know, you go to Tommy, he can tell you.”