Dear Aunt Bingo,
We have a local Bingo that is run by a charitable
organization, but a lot of players have remarked that it
is actually “family owned and operated.” We say this
because from the start, a particular local family, which
is quite large, has been highly involved with the
charity and also very active in running the Bingo.
the early days this was no big deal: family members have
held various senior posts with the charity’s governing
board over the years and were very active in all kinds
of recruiting efforts, fundraisers and other activities.
A lot of that involvement has faded over time, however,
except for the Bingo, where a lot of them still work and
seem to almost act like celebrities starring in their
personal Bingo show.
Unfortunately, a good number of
them behave the same way as players, with special tables
and seats reserved for them; a lot of chatting,
laughing, shouting across the room and general
socializing with family and nonfamily Bingo workers
between and during the games; Bingo paper set aside for
them (which they do pay for) so they don’t have to stand
in line like the rest of us; and so on.
A number of
players have remarked that they also seem to win more
than the rest of us, which I don’t really think is true,
shows how their behavior is creating gossip and
additional ill will.
Generally speaking, they are
perfectly nice people, but this “privileged” behavior
has been rubbing the other players the wrong way for
quite a while. In many ways we’re left feeling like we
are there to be an audience to their ongoing show.
Our hands are definitely tied as far as lodging a
complaint because we would be complaining to an aunt or
uncle about her or his nieces and nephews or going to a
grandparent about his or her kids and grandkids. I know
for a fact that at least two players were overheard by a
member of the family grumbling about the situation, and
that the two were glared at and “iced out” to the point
that they stopped coming to this Bingo and months later
have still not returned.
I want to stress again that
I don’t think there is any cheating or other funny
business going on. It is simply a matter of this group
of people breaking every social rule of Bingo and acting
like the games are family owned and operated and that
they have the right to push the rest of the players to
I don’t know what advice you can
really offer. Mostly I think I am sending this letter
just to vent about the situation and maybe see if there
are other players who might read this who have been in
halls like this and have some idea of what to do about
Bingo Outsider, Michigan, via email
reminds me of a situation I experienced years ago when I
was invited to join the board of a service group. I
agreed, attended a few meetings and events, and caught
on quickly to how much of a clique the board
was—particularly a handful of long-standing board
members who were not open to anyone’s ideas but their
own and viewed the rest of the board as worker bees who
were there to carry out their edicts.
obedient worker bee I am not. I pushed back gently,
attempting to rally other board members to get a few new
ideas considered. In response I was “iced out” (to
borrow your words) by the power block. It was ridiculous
and I said so, but still nothing changed. So I quit and
never looked back.
I share this story because this
Bingo situation sounds very similar. We all know how
Bingo games ought to operate: They should be open and
welcoming to everyone. If a small group has decided that
they are running the show and are marginalizing the rest
of the players, and the people in charge are allowing
it, then you definitely have a problem.
line is that you go to Bingo to get out and have fun,
socialize and compete for prizes. If the “fun” is not
there, then maybe you should not be there either.
there is something about the games that still makes you
want to stay, you could always try sending an anonymous
letter to the person in charge explaining your concerns.
But if this a long-standing situation—which it sounds
like it is—and your criticism, no matter how
diplomatically stated, is basically a complaint about
family and close friends, it’s highly unlikely anything
As always, reader
comments/advice/similar experiences related to this
topic are welcome. Let’s hear what you think!
Share your views! Write to Aunt Bingo c/o the Bingo Bugle, P.O. Box 527, Vashon, Washington 98070, or email her at STENGL456@aol.com. Be sure to include your name and address (you can request that your name not be published), as typically she will not include anonymous letters in her columns.