Published in Overland Issue 250 Autumn 2023 · Fiction Ocean Paradise Alex Cothren AM Gaming Trade Reports WE HAVE A MASSIVE WEEKLY TARGET – 1.36M TURNOVER TO BEAT LAST YEAR. ITS TAX TIME SO PEOPLE WILL HAVE MORE MONEY TO SPEND. BE OUT THERE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO KEEP PEOPLE IN THE ROOM AND PLAYING! —Manager Gaming Staff Report on AM Gaming Trade 10–11: Drinks and toasties done for the early birds in the lounge. Slow morning but there are a few new faces as well as some regs (Eels, PP Jane). Found a bunch of angry leaflets scattered about the place (probably left by Wet Bill’s wife last night). Have chucked them out 11–12: EGM#29 out of order. Hopefully fixed soon as is very popular machine. Heaps of snacks, drinks, meal/keno vouchers, friendly chats, etc, to get people locked in for a big day 12–1: Starting to fill up nicely. 2E Kev in at midday. Got him on the pints straight away and already hitting his usual $5 bets. A few faces (not regs) from yesterday’s Sunday Funday back again today, pushing drinks & sandwiches/cakes to keep them coming back 1–2: Great hour! Place buzzing with mix of regs and newies. AC Dan in at 1pm, so Aussie rock playlist on straight away as usual and he’s fired up and hitting $5+s straight off the bat. Loving our chances of reaching target! 2–3: PP Jane had her usual accident not wanting to leave machine. Mopped up quickly and sprayed Glen 20 for smell. Few newer faces moved away/seemed a bit uneasy but no major issue. PP Jane as usual did not bat eye and is pounding $10s nonstop 3–4: Noise from EGM#29 getting worse. Very loud, sometimes sounds like voices???? Had a few newies who were starting to hit high bets leave as result of noise. Regs don’t seem to mind, aside from AC Dan complaining he can’t hear his music. Turned volume up and seems happy enough now 4–5: Beer taps issue has really thrown spanner in day. 2E Kev furious and has left. Not good! Giving out free food, keno vouchers, being extra friendly to try and make up for issue 5–6: Room died off badly after disturbance with Wet Bill’s wife. People very offput by the screaming, ‘killed her, killed her’ etc. Only 20 or so people left in the room, mainly regs, despite plenty of free drinks, keno vouchers, snacks offered. Will take miracle to hit target at this point Gaming Manager Report on AM Gaming Trade 10–11: Great omens early. Staff really amped up. Focused and doing excellent job. Straight away offering drinks and food to those lined up for open doors at ten, including some VIP Patrons. VIP Patron Hamish betting large after staff member (Jamie) complimented his team (Parramatta Eels) on big win last night, as per briefing sheet. Staff also quickly and efficiently handled situation regarding unauthorised propaganda material left by disturbed spouse of ex-VIP Patron Bill. Terrific! Weekly target bonuses (Woolworths vouchers) for staff continues to be very effective motivational tool 11–12: Music not working on Electronic Gaming Machine #29. Loud static noise, very unpleasant. I have unplugged but noise continues (?). Tech on the way. Turnover will take big hit until then as this is one of most lucrative machines (Ocean Paradise) and has powered many successful weekly target challenges in past. Is beautiful machine and personal favourite. Quite the thing to watch blue and yellow lights wash across Patrons’ faces as they pump the spin button to rhythm of the waves 12–1: Terrific efforts by staff continuing. VIP Patron Kevin in at midday. Staff member (Sara) who is known favourite of VIP Patron Kevin brought him pint of Toohey’s + light flirting before he’d even sat down. Betting large straight away. Excellent! Also, Sunday Funday promo seems to have worked treat, as number of new faces brought in by event have returned, including a few betting high enough to be potential VIP Patrons if cards played right. Will put their likes, dislikes, habits, etc, into briefing sheet as we notice them 1–2: Staff on song during very busy period. VIP Patron Dan in at 1:30 and staff member (Jamie) immediately put on specially curated playlist, as per briefing sheet. Both staff members (Sara, Jamie) pushing drinks, snacks, various vouchers, friendly interactions to keep all players in room. Turnover already approaching 30K mark, very encouraging 2–3: Staff member (Sara) dealt quickly and discreetly with sanitation issue regarding VIP Patron Jane as per briefing sheet. VIP Patron Jane did not cease betting at all during cleaning period and only minor disturbance to other patrons noted. Top effort! (note: staff do need to be more diligent in regards to minors in gaming lounge. Spotted young girl in netball bib/skirt but keeps disappearing in crowd. Staff must remind Patrons that children need to stay in car/outside venue) 3–4: Issues with EGM #29 continue. Clearly affecting both Patrons (esp. VIP Patron Dan) and staff (Sara claiming can hear words: ‘get out’. I have listened but do not hear this). Tech has looked over but cannot determine problem/explain how unplugged machine could make noise. Bib girl involved? Have spotted watching/laughing 4–5: Significant issue with beer taps. Beer coming out of all taps (incl. Toohey’s, Balters, Hahn, etc) has extremely salty, off-putting taste. Several patrons seen spitting beer out in disgust. Has caused significant disruption, including exit of VIP Patron Kevin, who (as per briefing sheet) must be kept with a Toohey’s pint at all times for best results. Have called front bar to ask about taps issue but phone line not working (loud static sound, like crashing waves) 5–6: Disturbance at 5:30. Wife of former-VIP Patron Bill came into gaming room and caused unfortunate scene. Very drunk and emotional. Shouted at staff, made several unsupported and defamatory accusations regarding venue/management/EGM#29, then threw full glass at EGM#29 (thankfully undamaged as still unplugged). Anniversary of former-VIP Patron Bill’s death, so you know … but still not fair to venue/staff/machine. Dealt with by security. Staff OK. Sara not employed at time of ‘incident’ so mostly confused. Jamie a little shaken up as was employed at time of ‘incident’. Bib girl crying PM Gaming Trade Reports DO NOT GIVE UP. WEEKLY TARGET STILL IN REACH. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN ACHIEVE. OTHER STAFF MEMBERS HAVE NOT TURNED UP FOR THEIR SHIFTS. THIS JUST MEANS THEIR BONUSES WILL BE YOURS. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. WATCH OUT FOR BIB GIRL. HER FINGERS ARE LIKE ICE —Manager Gaming Staff Report on PM Gaming Trade 6–7: What is going on with front bar? Haven’t been able to get food orders out. Offering free bar snacks to make up for this issue (+ beer taps issue + EGM#29 issue) but customer found small fish (alive?!?) in chips packet. Place quickly thinning out 7–8: PP Jane had second accident. Massive amount of mopping needed. That corner of lounge essentially flooded and strong, rotten smell pushing many away. How have we let her do this day after day 8–9: Place empty now except for regs. AC Dan left due to issue with audio system. I am leaving. You should too Jamie. What is happening tonight? Why haven’t the others arrived for their shifts? Listen to EGM#29. It is a warning 9–10: Where is the tech? First EGM#29 then the audio and now the TV issue. Eels left v angry. Thought staff was playing joke. Manager no help. Keeps mentioning child no one has seen. (Also: I have been listening to weird sound from still unplugged EGM#29 and I think Sara was wrong. Not ‘get out’. ‘Killed her’) 10–11: Jackpot went off to PP Jane. 1.36M (our weekly target!?!) Did not have heart to follow instructions and keep her in room. Seemed so at peace. After Wet Bill, have often wondered if she was next. Hope she stays away for good this time. Venue is empty and I am leaving 11–12: Is this shared doc being monitored? If you are reading this at partner venue please respond. I have tried to exit (due to issues: see above) but (all??) doors are locked/jammed. Phone lines/phone signal not working. EGM#29 issue spreading to other machines. All now showing Ocean Paradise interface, except very wrong. Instead of coconuts & bikinis & cocktails: cars & skeletons & netball bibs. Is this prank? If so, not funny. What happened was not my fault. Was just doing job. Please stop 12-1: EMERGENCY. JAMIE MCCLOUGHIN. 0466765437. SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH MACHINES. AT MIDNIGHT JACKPOT WENT OFF ON EVERY MACHINE IN ROOM. WATER (!!!) NOW POURING OUT OF SLOTS. ROOM FILLING UP. CANNOT OPEN DOORS/BREAK WINDOWS. AM STUCK! WATER RISING. MANGER DISAPEARED. HELPHELP HELP Gaming Manager Report on PM Gaming Trade 6–7: PM staff have not arrived. This is fine as we don’t need them nor would trust them to keep eye on bib girl anyways. Very clever: managed to slip thin blue fingers into chips packets without myself/staff noticing. Laughing at patrons displeasure. Honestly beginning to think she wants us to miss weekly target 7–8: Staff member (Sara) left after second sanitation issue involving VIP Patron Jane. Was ‘disgusted’. This should be considered mutiny = loss of employment. VIP Patron Jane worth 8-10K turnover on good day and is key to weekly targets. VIP Patron Jane perhaps most important VIP Patron since loss of VIP Patron Bill. Therefore, as per briefing sheet, no number of sanitation issues is ‘disgusting’ number of sanitation issues. Would like to take this moment to commend bib girl on understanding this. Is floating in thin pool of sanitation issue liquid, eyes blank 8–9: Would like to retract earlier commendation. Bib girl is troublemaker. Blew cold breath into audio system and produced strangely distorted loop of song (‘Octopus’s Garden’) that angered VIP Patron Dan. Unsurprisingly, VIP Patron Dan left. Bib girl delighted. Bib girl celebrating by brushing cold, blue fingers across back of management’s neck 9–10: Has staff member (Jamie) turned? Bib girl in plain sight extended long, seaweed-tangled hair into every TV in venue and produced replay of 2022 NRL Grand Final (Penrith 28-12 Parramatta), despite briefing sheet forbidding any mention of this game in presence of VIP Patron Hamish. VIP Patron Hamish has left. Staff member (Jamie) pretended not to see this and acted confused when bib girl situation brought up. Am particularly disappointed as staff member (Jamie) has been loyal servant to venue and myself since VIP Patron Bill ‘incident’ 10–11: We are lost. Staff member (Jamie) failed to follow protocol re: jackpot recipients. Protocol states that jackpot recipients should be compelled by any/all means to continue playing so machines have chance to recoup loss. Staff member (Jamie) did not offer drinks, food, vouchers, friendly chatting, minor admonishments to get VIP Patron Jane to stay. Staff member (Jamie) did not stop bib girl from whispering advice into VIP Patron Jane ears. Result is venue now empty. Weekly target out of reach. Teeth inexplicably numerous in bib girl’s mouth 11–12: We are saved! Weekly target previously under threat due to various issues (noted above) resulting in empty venue. Happy to report that venue no longer empty. Happy to report that venue is now full. Happy to report that every machine in venue currently receiving maximum bets from VIP Patron Bill. Excellent! As per briefing sheet, if VIP Patron Bill allowed favourite machine (Ocean Paradise) and if VIP Patron Bill given constant drinks (alcoholic, strong), VIP Patron Bill can be worth up to 10K-15K turnover on good night. Tonight feels like good night 12–1: VIP Patron Bill has generously beckoned management/staff to come swim with him in water. VIP Patron Bill intimating all is forgotten? VIP Patron Bill no longer angry about ‘incident’? Knows staff/management was just following protocol/briefing sheet? After all, was not our fault VIP Patron Bill lost so much that night. Was not our fault VIP Patron Bill drank so much that night. Was not our fault VIP Patron Bill’s intoxication/despair (unclear) caused car to go over cliff/into sea. Was not our fault VIP Patron Bill had picked up daughter from netball practice prior to betting/drinking for many hours. Was not our fault she was in backseat REMINDER TO ALL STAFF THAT KEEPING VIP PATRONS HAPPY/IN ROOM IS OUR BIGGEST PRIORITY. WHEN THEY ASK US TO SWIM WE SWIM. IF THEIR CHILDREN WISH TO CHEW ON OUR LIMBS WE LET THEM. ALL STAFF NOT COMPLYING WILL FORFEIT BONUS (WOOLWORTHS VOUCHER). PLEASE. COME JOIN US JAMIE. WE HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN —Manager Alex Cothren Alexander Cothren was born in Washington State, USA, and now lives in Adelaide, Australia. 'Discomfort example' is his third published work. On Twitter he is @cothren_alex More by Alex Cothren › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 11 August 202322 August 2023 · Fiction Fiction | Alison Katelin Farnsworth The things I want to say aren’t the sort of things you’re allowed to say out loud. You’re not even meant to think the things I think. But sometimes I think them anyway and sometimes I want to say them, so badly, that my chest fills with this irredeemable rage and I don’t know which way to look. 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