The Problem With Old White People (And Why They Should Go To Foxwoods)

Working at Mohegan Sun Casino you learn a lot about people. I was an usher in a 10,000 seat arena there, and learned about many cultures through their entertainment!

Thus, the following: an exercise in Casino Sociology 101.
We are, in a way, one big happy family.
In other ways we’re very different.

logoAs you watch people during unique events, for example an arena filled with what seems like 99% Vietnamese people, there’s not much of a language barrier as you might think. At the Chinese shows you’d be astonished how fancy the girls fix up their hair. The blacks are unfalteringly polite, despite the seats sometimes being a bit too small. I saw shows from all corners of the world; heard impressive stories and witnessed innovative attempts at rule-breaking.

White people were most surprising. It seems when you put a lot of them into one really big room, they show their colors, you might say!

This night was in January, 2010:

Bowzer’s Doo-Wop Dance Party. A tribute to “doo-wop” tunes of the 50s and 60s, featuring some of the original acts who are still living. I didn’t recognize their names; not any of them.

Bowswers Doo Wop PartyThe show was 3 1/2 hours long.

No show should be this long. It becomes self indulgent after about 2 1/2 hours.

The entertainers were playing “Goodnight Sweetheart” as their “one more song” at the very end. Halfway through this song, the arena was almost empty – it had been a crowded night with 7000 guests. I had never before seen the arena empty itself while the band was still playing music.

The audience members were old, white and sentimental. The Master of Ceremonies for the show was Bowzer, a big man, dressed in a white t-shirt, black pants and sneakers, whose mission is to pay tribute to the doo-wop era while talking in a voice another usher told me (while laughing) sounded “just like Winnie-the-Pooh.” Tonight we had seven thousand sad old white people.

These people were entitled. I don’t know why, but nothing was good enough for them. Many were overweight. One gentleman was trying to get a better seat for his wife, and when I didn’t bother to help him because there was nothing specific he was asking for, except to complain that his wife had to sit next to someone (besides him), he explained that “at Foxwoods, no matter what the problem is, they take care of ya. This place, it’s always somethin’.” It was as if he couldn’t put his finger on what he wanted to complain about, but he wanted to complain. His wife sat there; she wouldn’t budge, even though he had abandoned his seat so she could move over into it. He, meanwhile, stood in a fire exit and watched the show for awhile. Because he was entitled to. I wanted to give him directions to Foxwoods.

handicapped reservedA couple who appeared to be in their sixties came in, and, as I do, I asked them if I could see their tickets. While he handed them to me, she said “handicapped!” So, she was making it clear they were going to sit in the handicapped section. It seemed to me they were not handicapped, but had done some research and found out there was more elbow room for them to lounge around in in the handicapped seating area. So they had gone ahead and gotten tickets for that section. Now, me, I’m thinking “you’re not handicapped! Some people are, you know.” And some of them, even though they actually are handicapped, try to participate in life like normal people.

I had three couples that evening who seemed to be not handicapped in any physical way who had tickets for the handicapped section.

I’m glad to know many older white Americans I admire. None of them, though, were at this concert.

This was the “good old days” group. Things just aren’t the same as they were back then. Oh, memories, much better than actual current life. It’s kind of sad, watching these people flop down into the seats and try and reconnect with something that probably never existed. It was a full house. Many of these guests seemed to like to complain. It was like a hobby.

A woman, maybe in her fifties, reached out and touched the wall while she walked, as if she had trouble balancing. Scooters were everywhere.

Two women; one did all the talking; she was from the Bronx, and sounded like it. She explained to me, in a long, complicated way, they had a train to catch, back to the Bronx. OK, nice for you. Well, it seems the show, being a very long show, was going to go too long (for their schedule), and they wanted to know if there was someplace they could stand so they would be able to leave more quickly when they were satisfied they had seen all the acts they wanted to see, without bothering people by having to stand up and move out of their row.

She was a little angry about it all. I told her she couldn’t stand in the fire exits; she really had to sit down. And then I tried to ignore her. She eventually went away. Probably to try her complaining on someone else. It was somehow our fault and we should do something (but what?).

Smiley MadIf they can’t find a working loophole, they seem to just issue a general complaint. “Things just aren’t good for me” must be their motto.

At one point, while I was standing next to another usher at the entrance curtain, a gentleman walked up to the two of us, kind of excited, and said “what happened!” Nothing had happened, so we did not really acknowledge his question, just sort of pretended like he mistook us for someone who wanted to have a conversation with him. He looked like he wasn’t “all there.”

Another gentleman, possibly this gentleman’s brother, came up to me and explained in a detailed way (as if this was the biggest night of his life and he wanted me to know all about it) that no-one was sitting in the seat in front of him and for some reason he was going to sit in it. I smiled. There are a lot of opportunities to use facial expressions to avoid an issue or conversation and never actually say a word. My technique worked like a charm. I didn’t really care where he sat. Should he have even told me?

I’ve never seen so many people standing in the fire exits. One man lit up a cigarette right next to a “no smoking” sign.

As lush and plush as Mohegan Sun Resort is, as much as it succeeds at catering to guests as if they were on the most important vacation of their lives, there was never going to be enough for this crowd. They seemed to look for ways to complain and rules to break. They wanted someone to take notice of them, and hopefully to listen to their problems, whether imaginary or real. I had only one thought; I hope I never become like that.

I don’t think I will. I am white, but a positive and happy white, with a little Delaware Indian, too, my mom says. I do highly-recommend working in an international place like Mohegan; you’ll do a lot more learning than you will earning, but you get to see wild shows … and wild audiences too!

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One Reply to “The Problem With Old White People (And Why They Should Go To Foxwoods)”

  1. Well written, stringing a number of anecdotes together (in a conventional style) so that the reader continues to read, hoping that the next one will be just as interesting, or more-so, than the one before. More important, they all add up to illustrate the writer’s point (I keep picturing the two old guys in the box seats on the Muppet Show).

    And, while reading, I kept checking myself, as in, “O God, do I ever behave like that…I hope not”.

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