My Sweetest Win


Forgive me, a moment of nostalgia regarding the 5th house (I have my POF on the cusp of my 5th, sextile Venus).

Here is the true story about my sweetest win, which happened to be one of smallest,

It was about April, 1981, I was 20 years old and in the army. Having completed my basic and intel training course of about 9 months, we were in a transit camp in South West Africa, waiting for a convoy to take us up to the Angolan border where we would spend the next 15 months fighting against the Russian/Cuban backed SWAPO forces. Defending what later proved to be an illegitimate cause.

It was Easter, so they gave us the weekend off. About a dozen of us soldiers hitched down about a hundred miles from Windhoek to Swakopmund, a diamond mining town on the Atlantic coast.

We booked into 2 large chalet rooms and drank ourselves silly the Friday and Saturday night. On the Sunday morning, hungover and broke, we had to evacuate the rooms by 10am.

We went and sat on the beach, hungry. Some guys found a large tin and we collected mussels off the pier and cooked them over a fire. They were sandy and inedible. Someone came up with the idea that we should all go through our pockets and pool whatever money we had left. Between the 12 of us we came up with R4 (in those days about $2). They appointed me to go to the nearest cafe with the explicit instructions to purchase two loaves of white bread, and two packets of hot potato chips. That was about what one could buy for $2 in those days.

I walked the 2 blocks into the town, and entered the cafe.

In those days, gambling (not horseracing), was illegal in South Africa, but this was South West where it was. I had never even seen a real one arm bandit, but, lo and behold, there, to the left of the door, were 3 of them. I looked at them, looked at the man behind the counter, and, as you are expecting me to say, lost my mind, mainly because I knew these army guys, who were mostly big Afrikaaners and bigger than me, would have beaten me up for being so silly with their money.

Putting the loose change down on the counter, I said, "Twenties". The man gave me twenty 20-cent coins.

I walked to the one-arm bandits (fruit machines), and started pulling.

I remember clearly, I was down to the third-last coin, starting to panic, and I said the word quietly, "Please".

To my absolute amazement, it hit. Clang-clang-clang, 3 blue bells in a row. The machine started ringing, and spat out the maximum jackpot: R40.

I bought R25 worth of food, which was two large shopping bags full, fruit, milk, biscuits, sweets, hot food in containers, you name it, and of course, two loaves of white bread and two packets of hot potato chips. I put R15 in my pocket.

I walked back to the beach, the guys were sitting in a circle on the sand. I placed the two bags in the middle of the circle. They couldn't believe their eyes. I remember the one big guy saying, roughly translated: you frikkin thunder, if you had lost that money we would have stuffed you up!

They then proceeded to stuff themselves. We hitched back that evening, bellies full.

However, my advice, as always, is to rather buy the food!



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