The following story is real and true, although for the reasons of privacy I changed all the names, locations, and all the facts. Other than that, this is precisely what took place –
Frank wanted to cry, but instead he glanced at the dealer and softly chuckled. It had to be nothing short of a magical lucky streak – the dealer was hitting 20 and 21 on every single turn! How in the world do you beat that? Frank had recalled learning the tricks and strategies of blackjack, secret card counting techniques – the benefits of Ivy League education – but none could help him now. He had played carefully and perfectly, and yet had lost every hand since sitting down, and his stack of chips was quickly dwindling down. The other two players at the table were also getting decimated, however, it didn’t seem to bother them at all – oh, how good it must have felt to simply enjoy yourself, to gamble just for fun! But not him, not today – Frank drove to the casino to win, there was no other way, he had nowhere else to turn.
He was getting more and more agitated, his mind racing back to the investor meeting earlier in the day. Frank was simply spectacular during the presentation – brilliant, innovative, showcasing the best of his charisma and enthusiasm… But all to no avail, it was over before it started, as they had made up their minds long before the meeting, covertly smiling to one another and waiting for him to leave. Frank was on his way back to the office, wondering how the company (and the dream) would go on, as he impulsively found a detour toward Vegas, thinking the unthinkable and hoping for a miracle.
His last five thousand dollars – all that he and the company had in the world – was quickly reduced to just under fifteen hundred… Frank wanted to scream at the dealer, to punch the table… He covered his face with his hands and silently exhaled. He had often read about these people, these empty gamblers, little money on the table and super-long odds against them, no hope left, just waiting for that one lucky card to appear. Frank often wondered how they could let themselves sink to such lows and why they thought their luck would ever change. He was now one of them.
“Hey, what are you drinking, honey!” – a cocktail waitress lightly tapped Frank’s shoulder. He turned around, snapping out of his own private world – “Nothing, thanks”, he mumbled, as she continued to smile at him. She touched his arm and turned around to walk away, as Frank heard the voice of the dealer behind him – “Sir?!” Frank swiveled around and saw the dealer staring at him, quizzically yet impatiently. Frank looked at the table and then he knew.
There were two Jacks in front of him, a perfect 20. But how… Frank suddenly realized that as he had turned around to the waitress, he accidentally dragged his entire stack of chips into the betting area, just before the cards were dealt. The dealer drew 17 and Frank was the winner! Before he could process what had just happened, the dealer announced, “Place your bets, please!” … Frank’s instinct was to grab the chips and run. It was no longer about being even, it wasn’t about his ego. He could leave now with a few chips, his dignity and his sanity; that was the safe play. Yet, everything cautious and calculated he had done that day ended up being dead wrong. Frank turned and glanced around for the waitress, not entirely sure why…
Suddenly his doubts were gone, it all made crystal clear sense in his mind – he smiled and pushed his entire pile of chips into the betting circle. Frank wasn’t exhilarated when the dealer placed an Ace and a Queen on the table in front of him, he barely even acknowledged it. He wasn’t even thinking about the money at that moment; somehow he now knew that his dream would soon be a reality.
The new dawn was breaking as Fred walked out of the casino; the company now had enough money to buy fuel for the next two weeks. The two weeks during which another miracle would surely happen – Fred had no doubt. The money he won wasn’t the ultimate solution, he knew that, but he also knew it was an omen, a sign that FedEx would survive, and that things would only go up from that day on.