After missing two flights on the standby list and aggravating the waitress at the airport bar, I made it to New Orleans.
It was Friday night and there was sure to be some excess. I had accounted for that. Hoping to steer around the casino, I spent the night in the Uptown and in the Warehouse District.
But by 4 a.m., everyone else was asleep, I was left to my own designs. With nothing better to do, I changed in for some chips.
Within two hours, I won enough money at Blackjack to pay for my hotel and have a little extra fun. Nevertheless, I stayed to play some poker for fun.
Up and down for an hour, I finally busted out. It wasn't a large sum of money, so I was still happy.
Ready to leave, chips in hand, nothing was stopping me from cashing in except the boarded-up cashiers box.
Then, to my right and left, I saw promising tables where the chips seemed all to be flowing away from the dealer.
I sat down. The poker session and boarded-up cashier should've been a sign, because it all went downhill. I lost everything in my stack.
New Orleans was too much for me, and I had to escape. It took all my power just to make it back to the hotel to grab my bags. So startled by the loss, I wanted to take a cab directly to the airport from the casino.
My cohort Matt convinced me to stay just for lunch.
It's easy to be gobbled up by fear in a city as dangerous and dirty as New Orleans.
Eight people were killed in the time I was there, and even the cleanest person can't help but get a little black soot on the bottom of their pants.
Even friends can have insidious motives in this city.
I could tell my friend was hoping that a hot lunch and a few drinks would convince me to stay.
He was right.
The next thing I knew, I was at a parade eating crawfish and gulping down drinks from a paper bag.
Loosened up, I was tricked by my friend into heading into the casino.
He told me "just don't sit down," knowing I wouldn't be able to resist.
About an hour, and about eight shoes, later, I had brought myself to a more manageable loss. The type of loss that, while still disappointing, is at least something you can bear.
Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org