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20 Years Working at a Bingo Hall
20 years of My Life
This is about customer relations, not about bingo. I'm not here to promote gambling, no way. The story you are about to read, and the song I wrote could easily be about a restaurant, or even a club or a church.
I had the same job for about fifteen years when the song that follows was written. I had seen volunteers and customers come and go. My boss said there was a "revolving door" on the place. For my part I often quoted Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz: "People come and go so quickly here."
I guess I should tell you I am not your average worker. I have taken a mind power study course by Harry Lorraine called "Instant Mind Power" which I had found in the attic after my father passed away. In the course you learn various memory techniques, one of which is remembering names and faces. At it's height of popularity our mailing list was 2000 plus names. Stuffing the envelopes I could call up a face in my memory for every single one.
In various places, regulars have their own chair. Some like to sit close to the action, like people in a diner sitting at the counter, some like to sit all the way in the back. Some regulars will look for each other and sit together. In all businesses, the regulars come in for certain specials. Like the painter who only goes to the hardware store if paint or rollers are on sale. Or the Ice Cream shop that rotates their flavor of the day, our business was no different.
I tell you all of this as, if you have not been in a bingo hall, you will think it is different, but it isn't. Our regulars were so diverse, if I could name names here, I have collected money from the relatives of several famous figures in show business. It is against the law to divulge peoples names or take photographs inside the Hall that shows anyone who does not give consent.
When someone wins a game, they shout Bingo! some shout Beano, because that was the original name given this French game. They used beans to cover the numbers. Walking across a parking lot, or in a mall, customers would often hail me by calling Bingo! so I would turn and wave, or go over and say hello. This we call their "Bingo Cry" each one is unique, no two alike, as different as fingerprints and snowflakes.
Now everyone has "favorite" or "lucky" numbers. Even a fortune cookie is not complete without them. They will hope to see these numbers, and hear us call them, even if it does not make them a winner, why I do not know. Perhaps it makes them think they will win later, if they hear their favorite. Mine is 27. It was my server number in the restaurant and has seemed to follow me all of my life.
With all of this information, now I will tell you about why I wrote the song.
In the service industry we work for tips. Bingo is like a restaurant in that the happier the customer, the heavier the tips. In this way one can truly take control of ones income. I did! I made sure I was a favorite among my customers, oh yes I loved them, but I would even make friends of those who "despised" everybody. I am not bragging. It was my goal, as i am a people pleaser. I had many who I could never win over. I had many who could hate my kindness so much that it would make me so angry I would cry. How people could hate me for being kind is one I could never fathom. I tried so hard. I kept doing everything I could to make them happy and in the end when there was nothing more i could do and they still loathed me, I would get angry enough to cry.
For a while I cried every night when I came home from work. I was so defeated.
Fifteen years and I was practically famous. Everyone knew my face, even if they didn't remember my name. Seasonal customers especially would call me Kay, or Diane... Kay I get, but Diane? Who knows. I knew most of their names, due to Harry Lorraine.
One customer came in on a day when I was sure I could smell pork roasting and was trying to figure out which business was doing it. No one in the place seemed to smell it but me. This lady however, did. i knew her by name, but not her story. We became fast friends between games. Her deceased husband had been a chef, and since he had passed away she hadn't had a home-cooked meal. They had been well off, and she wanted for nothing... But she and I both had a hankering for a good roast pork dinner, about now. That evening I went and bought everything, the next day I checked to make sure she would be coming in at lunch time on the following, as usual. I prepared the tenderloin, stuffed, and mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, applesauce. I made two extra plates to take to work. At lunch time I heated up her portion, and mine, and the entire place was drooling as we had our lunch.
When they asked why I didn't make enough for everybody I said, "Well since she and I were the only ones who could smell it I thought we were the only ones who needed it."
The following spring, when she passed away, I was the last to know. I wrote this song, with her in mind, and all of the other faces, of the people I used to know.
Where Have You Gone
I work in a local Bingo Hall, Lots of people know my name.
You'd think after so many years, Each day'd be much the same,
But I remember the faces, of those I knew before,
For those not seen in a long time, I daily watch the door.
Where have you gone? And why haven't I seen you for so long.
Did you find another place to go, or something else to do,
Do I cross your mind at all, or am I just a fool
Do you have any idea at all, how much i'm missing you?
I look often to your favorite spot, and I see your empty chair.
No one has mentioned anything, it's a wonder that you're not there.
I call your favorite numbers, announce your favorite game,
Somehow without your smiling face, this hall's just not the same.
Where have you gone? Did one of us perhaps say something wrong?
Are you off on a vacation, or did you move away?
Are you sick at home, thinking we wouldn't care anyway?
Now you know we can't know all of your names,
But your absences are noticed just the same.
We cannot say we're sorry, and make everything right,
for you have just gone away and disappeared from sight.
Where have you gone? Can I hope one day you might hear my song?
And will it bring you back again where my love for you is real,
Did I miss the last chance I'd ever have to tell you how I feel?
Each time the door opens wide, I still can see your face
I still remember your Bingo Cry, and I hear it... Every place.
Some day these empty seats will fill with unfamiliar faces,
No record there to show those who once, sat in their places
You know I won't take the risk of leaving things unsaid
The words I should have shared with you, I'll say to them instead.
You see I've learned a lesson, I know I'm not made of stone,
In the end, when we meet again, I'll never walk alone.
I know we'll know each other, on that day up in the sky
If not by our appearances then by the
About the Quarter
Originally there was a line that said;
- "I'd give you back your quarter, without even a fight,
- If you told me you were short changed,
- And came back in here tonight."
My boss made me take it out. There were always people arguing over a dime, nickel or quarter. It was a game called 10 Cent Bingo, and we would make change for the customer while they played, then turn around to collect the next game.some games would go as fast as forty seconds, and we would barely finish collecting before the next game would start.
Just in case the song ever did anything, my boss didn't want all these people coming in demanding all their lost money back.
I hope you can see the similarities to regular customers who come in to your place of business. There will always be new ones, but the regulars deserve to be noticed, recognized, revered. The day may come when you don't see them any more. I wouldn't want you to miss the chance to tell them how much you value their business. Business that you know could evaporate overnight if you do not give excellent "customer service".
My husband let me tape the song in a single take. I do not have that copy as I lent it out and never got it back.
He said there was no market for a song about bingo. Later a country singer came out with a song about being "stuck in Seminole Bingo" and try as I might I cannot find it. I found a Warren Zevon song but that isn't the one. My search will continue. For now I found the following to be a rather cute song, to leave you with.
Not the Song I was looking for, but I couldn't help it
Helping Mothers and Others
I wish I had found this program all those years ago when I was working in the Bingo Hall.
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