Don't mock a man and his banana

Posted Online: May 01, 2013, 11:00 pm
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By Kent Bush
You guys are so predictable.

Everyone wants to make fun of some poor New Hampshire man because he "lost" his life savings playing a carnival game and all he got for it was a 4-foot-long banana with Rastafarian dreadlocks.

How can you say he "lost" his life savings? He just "invested" the money in a stuffed banana with dreadlocks and a Jamaican hat. It isn't like he put his money in the stock market and lost it all

I can't wait to see what Dave Ramsey says about this one.

After trying to win a $100 Xbox Kinect and losing about $300, he left the carnival, gathered up his life savings of $2,600, and returned to the Tubs of Fun booth.

Of course, he could have taken $100 to a local Walmart and bought the game.

But what fun is that? He wanted to win!

After he lost everything in some strange display of addictive personality disorder, the 30-year-old man --- yes, he is 30 -- was pitied by the man running the game. The carny gave him back $600 and a huge banana with dreadlocks as a consolation prize.

Of course, this man has proven he doesn't know when to hold them and when to fold them. He isn't quite sure why he lost about 500 times in a row, but he knows it wasn't his fault.

He told Time magazine -- which may be considering him for Man of the Year -- "You just get caught up in the whole 'I've got to win my money back'" he said to a reporter who had to have trouble keeping a straight face. "It's not possible that it wasn't rigged."

That's where he is wrong.

If you are a 30-year-old who would consider the idea of spending $2,600 on a carnival game, there is in fact a very good possibility that you are horrible at that game and could lose hundreds of times in a row.

When I was in seventh grade, our band went on a trip where we played at a festival near a big carnival. I remember spending $20 on a game where you had to drop 5 gray circles onto a red circle. If you didn't completely cover the circle, you lost. It was like an evil Venn Diagram. There was always a sliver you couldn't cover. I just knew I would get it the next time.

I never did.

I'll never forget the look on my mom's face when I got home that night after having not eaten because I spent the entire $20 -- a lot of money back then -- on that stupid game.

I didn't get any of my money back or a stuffed banana. I was sent home with nothing but a pocket full of shame.

I learned two things that day.

First, don't waste money on games you can't win.

Second, learn to win games you can and become the best in the world at them.

I take my sons to play at arcades and carnivals from time to time. They have learned how to invest a small amount of money and win a lot of prizes. If there is a ball drop machine, I will hit the jackpot in less than four tries. I will also set the high score on any "hoop shoot" machine in the building just to make my sons believe that I am an incredible basketball player. At ages 9 and 5, that kind of display still works wonders.

The man and his banana were right. You can get caught up in trying to win your money back. That is the principle that Las Vegas and all of these roadside casinos are built on.

But usually the people at Gambling Anonymous are talking about sports wagers and slot machines, not Tubs of Fun. That's like the guy at the maximum-security prison who is in for jaywalking.

It's easy to laugh at this guy for losing $2,600. It is even easier when you think about him dragging that banana home.

But how many of us have fallen for obvious fraud and let it go on far too long. Maybe we weren't trying to win a video game, but we have all been gullible.

Hopefully, the next time those warning bells go off, you will think of this man and his banana and walk away before your losses mount.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)