The Poverty Game

Written by Asweepa

It's been ten years since I have seen sunshine.

That is my choice, and the decision came accidentally. After I made my pile, I knew I could live exactly as I pleased. The difficulty with such freedom, oddly enough, was to discover those things that do indeed please. One gets so caught up in doing the 'normal everyday' stuff, it takes some real effort to ditch that, and really re-define life on ones own terms.

A book on Vampires gave me my first clue. Why not stay up in the night, and ignore the daytime? No, I don't drink blood, although I have certainly spilled some in various adventures along the way. But staying up all night struck me as exactly the way I should live. And so I began sleeping in the daytime, and setting out each dusk to explore the world that few ever see.

That world is as large and as different as, well, a world should be! Life at night contains many a delightful tale, such as, hopefully, this one.

It was two in the morning, and I was out for a drive. The drunks were staggering out of seedy bars, hookers were looking for desperate business, and the streets were a feast of low life forms.

As I pulled up to a traffic light, a girl darted from the sidewalk, towards my car. Instead of coming to my open window, she crouched down in the empty lane beside me, and quickly began to pick up items from the street. I, at first, thought she was picking up pieces of yet another smashed bottle on the road. But I was wrong. Instead of glass, she was picking up money. Coins! Somebody had dropped a handful of change onto the roadway.

A car coming up behind me, switched over into that lane, and then had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the girl. She gave a blank stare into the bright headlights, wanting to continue picking up the coins, but the driver moved slowly forward, forcing her to get off the road.

When the light turned green I went ahead a short distance, and then turned my car around, so that I could watch the event play itself out.

Traffic was now heavy. All the drunks were in their cars. The coin collector looked back and forth, first staring that the remaining coins on the road, and then at the cars speeding along towards them. She was struggling within herself. The money was right there! Yet cars were speeding along, and she could very easily get hit, bent down trying to pick up the coins.

I smiled at her dilemma. Was her life worth those pennies? She didn't seem to know. And neither, honestly, did I.

The sight reminded me of 'The Poverty Game' TM that a group of us played, many years ago. We made the game up, and to this day I don't understand why it is not played in every seedy bar in existence. Or maybe it is being played, and The Game continues as we speak.

The rules were simple. You get a group of friends together, for a night out at a low class bar. Everyone comes with a pocket full of quarters. The first from your table who goes to the washroom, throws a quarter into the urinal, before using it. As the beer goes down, each one visits the can, each adding a quarter to the growing amount of money in the urinal. Given heavy beer consumption, and ten or twelve guys, the money adds up fast.

During the evening, other customers in the bar will certainly notice the money. They face the dilemma of how many quarters will overcome their [hopeful] distaste at reaching in, and getting the money out. Often you can see that question haunting the faces of those at the bar!

The washroom has to be checked, after each one of the losers uses it, to determine who finally takes the money. Eventually, and often very quickly, the money is gone. By careful watch, you know who has reached into the urinal.

The chap from your table, who threw in the last quarter before that guy fished it all out, is the 'winner.' His job now is to go over to the coin collector and shake his hand! And, perhaps, ask him how much he got, or why his pocket is so wet?

Back in my car, the two o'clock lady now has the satisfied smile of someone who has found money. Even though she has carefully looked over, twice, every inch of pavement, she continues to look for more. Hoping for another penny?

I wonder about those coins scattered, late night, on a busy road. Has someone come up with a new version of our old game? A little more of a life and death version?

Ah, those good old days! You know, it's been years since I played. Hey, I've just thought of something! Why don't we get a group together, and play!

Are you up for a Game?