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The Back Room

A short tale of being taken off a casino floor

a white tiled hallway, very long, disappearing into one point perspective. Bleak with fluorescent lighting. Empty.

I’ve never looked my age. This is OK now that I’m older, but when I was younger, it could be a problem. I have many stories, but here is one:

When I was 21, I took a road trip with my brother to see his high school friend, T, who was working in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino as a manager. Our high school was small, so I knew her too and I was looking forward to saying hello. 

As soon as my brother and I walked into the casino, heads turned, but it seemed normal. It was during the day and the casino was relatively empty. 

We kept walking around. We found T. She gave us a little tour. I noticed that despite being with an employee, eyes were increasingly on me. T’s presence didn’t stop me from getting carded at every table we stopped at and every archway we stepped through. At one point, I was almost sure we were being followed by undercover security. 

At one blackjack table, the pit boss and a very large man in a black suit were whispering with each other and steely-eyed staring at me. 

Spidey senses: Tingling. 

I think T had stepped away at this point. The two men came over and said, “Miss, we need you to come with us.” 

I said nothing. Everything sort of froze in time. The cards at the table stopped being dealt and all eyes were on me. And like a young, inexperienced idiot, I got up off my stool and went with them. 

Fear level: high. 
Heart beat: increasing rapidly. 

The pit boss stayed behind but the large man and about 3 others, who literally appeared out of nowhere, escorted me and my brother off the floor. It was a total perp walk. Everything and everyone stopped to watch this little black suit funeral procession. 

Cheeks: Blood Red. 
Heart beat: Severe. 

We went through so many doors and down so many dark, skinny tunnels, I would not have found my way out to save my life. Thankfully I think T found us at this point and she kept assuring me it was all OK. She had been telling the pit bosses that she knew me and knew I was of legal age. She told us the whole casino was on edge because they’d just gotten dinged for allowing underagers in about two weeks prior, and this was all just paperwork and not to worry.

OK. Fear level: Decreasing. 
Heart Beat: Still Bad. 

But then, after a lot of walking, we suddenly go through a random door that I didn’t see before. It leads into one of those plain white rooms you see in movies where the large men beat the shit out of card counters. 

Welp. Fear level: Severe. 
Heart Beat: Almost System Shutdown. 

Another man was in this room with a computer (high tech, as this was the early 90s, which made the whole scene even more terrifying). None of the men said anything. They ran my license and confirmed I was legit. 

Computer man hands some objects to Large Man. Large man pounds the objects around, then flipped over my tiny, 2-inch wide wrist and pushed it hard with a stamp soaked in black ink. The stamp was some sort of square with lots of lines of numbers and letters in it. He (did I say he was very large?) man said, “OK. Just show dis at every table you’re at and no-one will bug you no more.” 

Confusion level: Shrodinger’s Cat. 
but, Heart Beat: Lowering to Intensive Care Levels.

Large Man was right. I didn’t have any more trouble. Actually, I never had to show my wrist to anyone. All the pit bosses’ eagle eyes spotted the stamp before I sat down. It was like some sort of casino magic. The rest of the visit went smoothly but I do remember not really being able to speak for the rest of the day.


That is not the worst story of my life as a woman-who-looks-younger-than-she-is. I have a lot more harrowing ones. But that was a pretty, uhhh, interesting day. I told this story on Twitter, with GIFS. Follow me there for more tweet threads.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay