The room is always buzzing with the sound of laughter, the clanging of bells, and loud music at the local Dave and Busters. This place is like Chuck E. Cheese for grown-ups: food, booze, and games. What more can a person ask for? The room was filled with the smell of food being cooked in the kitchen, it was filled with smoke, and the lighting was dimmed so that the game lights would shine brighter, attracting passers-by to play and win tickets.

There were men and women running around with tickets overflowing from their pockets and wrapped around their necks with smiles stretching from ear to ear. Their D&B ticket cups were filled to the brim with yellow paper tickets. “Do you think we have enough tickets for the Family Guy Monopoly game?” one of the guys asked as he and his friend ran to the prize counter to count their tickets. “I don’t know, but if we don’t, I don’t want to waste my tickets on some stupid prize, I want to wait until I have enough for the game. I’ve been waiting for this game forever! It has taken me more than three times to come here to get enough tickets,” said his friend. A prize that would normally cost $20 at your local Walmart can cost hundreds of dollars here, but no one pays attention to price when you’re having this much fun.

There was a huge crowd around the Jeopardy game. Four people sat on stools in front of a large screen, competing against each other to see who could answer the questions correctly and get the most tickets. The game is set up like the show you can watch at home, whoever calls first with the correct answer gets the most tickets. People around him were shouting answers right and left trying to help the four who were playing; the music as loud as it was, made it difficult for the players to hear what everyone was saying to them. A girl with long blonde hair started yelling, “OMG, I don’t know the answer! Is it George Clooney or Brad Pitt?” To her dismay, the answer to the question was Brad Pitt. He lost the game and lost the ticket jackpot; most of the entries went to a tall man with brown hair and dark brown eyes.

This man with dark brown eyes and brown hair is the center around which our story revolves. His name is Derek Foster. Derek doesn’t seem like your typical arcade addict, but I can assure you he is. He looked like he walked out of the redneck issue of GQ magazine and walked into the bar tonight. His hair is slicked back, he has a small beard on his face and wears Wrangler jeans and a plaid button down shirt. He wears tan work boots and a John Deer belt wrapped around his waist. With every correct answer he gets on the Jeopardy game, he lets out a “Yes!” His voice is deep and he has the slightest hint of a southern accent.

“I’m addicted to Dave and Busters,” Derek said as he took a quick sip of beer. “I’m here every week…sometimes two or three times. It’s a nice quick escape from reality. After I get off work at the mill I like to come here and blow off some steam, you know, play whack – a-mole and try your hand at Jeopardy.”

The gaming floor is full of people playing their games. As I follow Derek to his next game, I can’t help but smell the mix of booze, sweat, and food that’s all over the place. The smell of alcohol is strong; mainly because of the number of people who have spilled their cup of boos on the ground while being pushed across the game floor.

We come to one of Derek’s favorite games, the ticket wheel. “That’s how the game works,” he said with intense eyes. “First you push the lever on the right all the way down, now you have to make sure you push it hard or else the wheel won’t turn. After you push the lever all the way down all you have to do is wait and see what number comes up.” arrow lands on. This is the easiest game and you get the most tickets out of it.” Derek put his hand on the lever and pushed down as hard as he could, the wheel must have spun at least six times before finally stopping at number 50 Tickets started to come out of the machine, but Derek didn’t take his tickets, instead he played over and over again until he had over 500 tickets, then he folded all the tickets neatly and put them in his Dave & Busters cup.

“My goal is to get that giant purple and black stuffed gorilla for my little sister… that’s 10,000 tickets. I’m almost halfway there! I hope I have enough tickets before her birthday which is in four weeks,” Derek said. while he looked at the gigantic ape.

It’s almost midnight and people are starting to file out of the building one by one. The room becomes quieter and quieter with each person that leaves. Some rush to the prize counter to cash in their tickets and get their prizes before they have to go home, while others save their tickets so they can get a better prize the next time they come in. Derek is one of these people. He makes sure all of his tickets are safely stored in his D&B glass, he puts on his jacket and walks to his car in the cool, crisp night. “Maybe next time I’ll have enough for that gorilla, but not today.”

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