Isn’t it funny how some of our most exciting exploits tend to occur very close to home? When I sat down to type this blog post my starting point was to write about creating memorable experiences. Naturally, that led me to revisit some of my more interesting escapades. Then, to narrow it down to one event, which I’d in turn examine. So I asked myself, What was one of my most memorable little adventures in recent months?
One immediately sprung to mind.
Let me tell you about this odd little episode.
It was a Friday evening around 10:30pm and I was sitting in my living working, on my laptop, as David Attenborough’s Planet Earth (BBC) played in the background.
I had been up since 6am that morning and pretty much worked without break until around 7pm, after which I went straight home and carried on working. And now I struggled to concentrate.
It was time for a break. It was time to switch off.
What to do, I wondered? Mentally drained, I struggled to come up with with a plan. And as I indecisively contemplated different possibilities, I walked into the kitchen to prepare myself some tea.
I flicked the kettle switch on, sat on a stool and looked around aimlessly while waiting for the water to come to boil
Before long the kettle began to shake. I got up to grab a mug and as I turned my gaze landed on a movie script I’d printed out earlier that week. For the film Rounders. (I’ve always had great interest in film and theatre and enjoy reading scripts and plays.) If you’ve seen the film you’ll know the story deals with underground high-stakes poker.
Boom! An idea popped into my head.
I walked over to the front door, grabbed a coat and scarf from the wall hanging coat rack and made my way to Leicester Square. Evidently, I didn’t care much for tea at that point.
When I got out of the tube, I stepped into one of the large casinos I’d walks past many times before but never considered entering. Though I’ve visited casinos around the world, I don’t gamble, nor do I particularly enjoy watching others do it. Except in 007 movies, but, then again, Bond makes everything look good. Yet for a moment the idea of walking around inside, observing people in action and getting a taste of that world appealed to me. I wanted to be an observer. A quiet observer.
Ding Ding Ding
Upon entering, I walked past the slot machines where adult men and women hypnotically stared at large, colourful screens, like young kids hooked on social media They fed 20 and 50 pound notes into a black hole without even having the time to process their cumulative loss.
I approached the tables area and picked one at random where a middle-aged Chinese man was sitting and playing roulette. He wore a navy blue blazer over a black turtleneck. Below the table I noticed blue jeans and a pair of trainers. In front of him sat a stack of tokens amounting to at least £100,000. Was he doing well? I didn’t know and couldn’t tell. He could have started off with £10,000. Or £200,000. His face was expressionless.
I kept my distance and watched, without any interest to play or get involved in the slightest.
Eventually, he noticed me standing there. I didn’t pretend to look elsewhere.
After a few minutes he turned toward me and spoke.
“Pick a number,” he said.
Huh? I turned around but realised he was in fact talking to me.
“It should be your call,” I said.
He kept his gaze on me for nearly five seconds before I realised he was serious. Fine. It was 35:1 odds. I looked at the tabled and picked a number at random.
“10,” I said.
He smiled and placed £2,000 on number 10. But then went on to put a similar amount on number 7 and also on number 13. The two other numbers sandwiched the 10. All in all he put £6,000 on the line.
“In case you’re off a by a little,” he said.
The ball landed on 7 and he won.
After he was given his winnings he turned to me.
“I can’t give you a commission because it wasn’t the 10,” he said. “But I wouldn’t have picked the 7 if it weren’t for you. Let’s grab noodles?”
Noodles? I hesitated. I don’t even know you. But I had nothing else planned. It was dinner with a random person. Didn’t have to see him again. I had nothing better to do. Fine. I nodded.
“Let’s go to Chinatown around the corner,” he said.
So that’s where we went.
We sat down in a nice restaurant on Gerrard Street and then the funniest thing happened.
A waiter arrived and my companion looked at me.
“Do you mind if I order?”
“Go for it,” I said. “No meat for me though.”
He nodded and, in Mandarin, went on to order a list of items completely unknown to me.
The waiter repeated the order and left.
Just before I had the chance to start a conversation by asking my host whether he lived in London or was visiting, his mobile rang. He answered and just listened with furrowed eyebrows. Half a minute passed and he still hadn’t said a word. Another thirty seconds passed. Without having said a word to the caller, he put his phone away in his jacket’s inside pocket. Then he looked at me with that same blank stare I noticed at the roulette table.
I sensed something had happened and waited for him to speak.
He took a deep breath, stood up, took out a wad of £50 pound notes from his pocket and placed £100 on the table.
“I have to go,” he said. And left.
I watched him walk to the door, open it and disappear into the street.
There I was. Sitting alone, not sure what the hell had just happened. I sat still for about thirty seconds.I took out my phone and called a friend to join. In the end we had a table full of Chinese food, all paid for, with some change to spare.
So the important takeaway is for you to go on and get out of your comfort zone.
Go on adventures regularly for you never know what awaits you when you step into the unknown. Think of your life as a river and your experiences as tributaries and streams that feed into you. The more you experience the larger you become. So not only welcome but seek new opportunities and adventures. You’ll build nice memories for yourself.
And remember you don’t have to go far from home to experience the incredible.