Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Bet


Throughout the years, I’ve really grown to dislike betting.  Not gambling, mind you, but betting.  Gambling is great.  Every lottery ticket or hand of cards or spin of the slot machine promises the possibility of unfathomable riches and a life of leisure.  Granted, it usually ends with a quick curse word and a moment of regret, but in the end it’s all worth it no matter the financial outcome. 

Betting, on the other hand, requires a certain level of trust between the two bettors.  This is where everything goes to hell for me.  I know that when I bet on something, I will pay if I lose.  Every time.  There’s no choice in the matter because I made a bet and you pay your bets.  That’s what adults do.  Don’t make a bet you can’t pay because that’s dishonest and a clear indicator that you are a complete asshole.  I’ve been burned by this kind of shit too many times and now feel like every bet I make is stupid because I only stand the chance of losing.  There’s no possibility of actually winning.  The most I can hope for is to break even because everyone is an asshole besides me.

That might be a pretty pessimistic way to view the world, but every once in a while my suspicions are confirmed and the world is proven to be a dishonest cesspool of assholes that only focus on personal gain.  One such example occurred over the course of the past week.  Let’s start at the beginning.

THE BET:

It really is the dumbest bet in the world.  An exorbitant amount of money for something so unbelievably trite and inconsequential.  I came back from a delivery at work to find another order waiting to go out.  On the way into the restaurant, I saw another driver walk in before me.  Therefore, the delivery is his.  Plain and simple.  Easy to understand.  Very straightforward.  However, the other guy either didn’t want the order or is retarded because he refused to take it on the grounds that I was there before him.  I informed him that he was wrong.  I told him where he was as I parked my car, that I have no reason to lie, and to just take the order and shut the hell up.  Big surprise, he didn’t shut up.  After he bitched and complained for twenty minutes he said, “Alright, let’s bet on it.  How much do you want to bet?”

“I’ll bet you five-hundred dollars that you were here first,” I replied. 

  “Okay,” he said with a smile as we shook hands. 

The idea was to replay the security tape and see who was right.  This was preceded by him laughing and talking loudly about paying his rent with my money, how stupid I am, how he didn’t care that I had bills, how he doesn’t take checks, and so on.  Eventually, he got really amped up and started yelling, “I want my fucking money!” since he decided that he already won the bet because he thought he was right.  I guess that’s all the proof he needed.

Now, when I quoted him five-hundred dollars for the bet, I made it intentionally high.  My thought process was that no one would expect the other person to actually pay five-hundred dollars for something so stupid.  I came to learn that he takes his finances very seriously and the abstract five-hundred dollar figure was a very real, very concrete number to him.  This is when I realized, “Oh shit.  If I’m wrong, I’m going to lose five-hundred dollars.”  As you can imagine, this made me a bit nervous.  The guy is probably about fifty pounds heavier than I am, and from the stories he’s told, he’s been in a few fights.  Plus, he was talking in a mafia-style “give me my fuckin’ money” way, which was a little unnerving.  The possibility of losing a lot of money became very real to me.

I knew I saw what I saw, but now that so much importance had been placed on being correct, I began doubting myself.  Memory is a very plastic thing, which is why eyewitness testimony doesn’t really mean shit in court.  The more you try to recall something, the more you fill in the holes for yourself, taking you further and further from the truth.  There’s a very good chance that all of your memories are skewed in one way or another, leaving the past you recall as actually an amalgamation of your experiences and your inaccurate perceptions of those experiences.  It’s a little depressing, isn’t it?  Think back to your most beautiful memory, and then realize that it didn’t actually happen the way you remember it.  Because that’s true.  I’ll bet you five-hundred dollars.

We weren’t able to check the tape the night of the bet because the owner was sleeping in an apartment connected to the office upstairs.  It was said that we would check the tape two days later, which also happened to be payday. 

“That way, I know you got money!” 

I woke up the next morning with a nervous pit in my stomach.  Since I’m trying to save money to move across the country right now, five-hundred dollars would be a big hit for me to take.  I replayed the scene in my head a thousand times. 

“I know I saw his truck.  I know I saw him walking in.  But did I?  Yes, yes I did.  I think…”

THE RESULTS:

That night at work I asked the manager to check the tape.  Finding out the results early isn’t cheating, I figured.  The manager was apparently curious about it too, since he watched us fight for about a half-hour the previous night.  After about twenty minutes of trying to find the exact moment from the best camera angle, we found it.  In the frame, you could clearly see my opponent walking down the sidewalk and into the restaurant.  Two seconds later, you can see my car pull off the road and into the parking lot.  Boo-ya.

I had indisputable evidence that the whole deal went down exactly as I had said it did.  Exactly.  Everything was crystal-clear.  Those security cameras must have been expensive.

I couldn’t wait for his dumb ass to come into work to pick up his check the next day.  Normally, I would never have expected anybody to pay this bet.  But after his childlike display the previous night, I knew I had to push the issue.  If he’s going to demand that I pay, to the point of intimidation, then I would be an asshole to not expect him to pay.  Why should that shit only work one way?  It shouldn’t.  But that remained to be seen.

Payday finally came around and he was nowhere to be found.  I didn’t have a chance to see him until he finally showed up an hour and a half late for work tonight.

THE OUTCOME:

“Hey man, did you get a chance to look at that tape from last week?” I asked him.

“Uh, no.” 

I know for a fact that people had told him what we had seen on the replay.  He just didn’t want to admit it.  I filled him in on what the tape showed.  He denied it (without even seeing it, mind you).  It was basically the exact same move that people pull on the Maury Povich Show all the time.  “Naw!  I don’t care what no blood test say.  That baby ain’t mine!”  We argued for a while about my irrefutable proof and he continued to reject it until other coworkers chimed in and validated my claims.  Then, his whole tune changed.  Now, he was doing me a favor by not paying me.  As it turns out, I had apparently called him “a bitch” while he was acting like a complete bitch the week before.  So, his payment on the bet was to not “beat my ass” in lieu of paying the previously agreed upon five-hundred dollars.

“Go ahead,” I told him.  “Beat my ass right here on camera and then go to jail.”

“Oh,” he said with a smile.  “If I do it, it’s not going to be on camera.”  Apparently he believes that unless a physical assault is caught on camera, there’s no way he could be prosecuted for the crime.  It doesn’t matter if five people just heard him threaten me.

We argued for a bit more before I said to the manager, “Either you send him home right now, or I’m leaving.”  He left.  End of all the fun.

The thing that amazes me the most is how much he acted like a seven-year-old throughout the whole ordeal.  He wanted to beat me up because I called him a “bitch.”  It doesn’t matter how he told me that everything I say is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard or any of the other insults he hurled at me during his pair of tirades.  I called him a name.  That’s unforgiveable, apparently. 

His entire argument and reason for being so mad at me basically boils down to this:  “He called me a name!  I’m gonna kick his butt because he called me a name and it hurt my feelings!”  That’s it.  That’s why he was so mad.  I called him a name.  Now does this sound like something a reasonable man in his thirties with a small son would do?  Or does this sound like something a child would do?  Or, maybe a little more accurately, is this something a man in his thirties that is actually a little bitch would do? 

It’s a word.  That’s it.  It’s not like I called him the N-word or anything.  If I did, I would totally understand the fifty punches I would receive.  I would be totally okay with that.  But anything else is fucking ridiculous.  We’re adults.  Didn’t he ever learn the “Sticks and stones will break my bones…” line?  Surely he has to have heard that at some point in his life.  And if not, I guess I just have to hope his child can teach it to him before I call him a “dummy” or something and he tries to stomp the living hell out of me.

In the end, no money was exchanged and my beliefs about the general trustworthiness of my fellow citizens was reaffirmed.  Betting is stupid, because the only thing holding someone to the bet is their own sense of self-worth and the gravity of their word.  And finding someone that still believes in the power of their word these days is like someone that still believes in Santa Claus.  The only people that do are too young to really have any impact on anything relevant.

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