Last week, we had our monthly unit coffee. Like many units, we are always looking for different and creative things to do when we get together. It always ends up being such fun to spend some quality time, but we like to have some sort of activity for those attending to enjoy.

So last month we decided on bingo and we headed to the Fort Hood Community Events and Bingo Center.

Now, to be honest, I should have done a better job on my recon early on. I had called to get all the details. I informed them we wanted to have a coffee there and all seemed fine. In fact, the lady I spoke with seemed excited we were coming. They told me the prices, the times and the low-down on what we needed to do. Luckily, our brigade commander’s spouse popped by the bingo hall the day prior to our coffee — it turns out the jackpot had gotten pretty high, tens of thousands of dollars high.

What? I had no idea — but that meant there would be a bigger crowd there.

I was the first to arrive because we were told there would be a line. I arrived and there were about 10 folks or so of regular bingo goers already in line. I was a little disillusioned, and saddened by the blank stares and lack of smiling faces, as I stood in line. Clearly, they knew I wasn’t a regular and a bingo rookie.

Once the doors opened, I grabbed a table and joined the line to purchase my bingo packets as I waited for the rest of our group to arrive. There was a super-friendly man in front of me in the line who was so gracious and kind. He answered all of my question with a thoughtful smile. I thought to myself, this might all end up being okay. Later that night, that kind gentleman won a bingo round and I have to believe his kindness helped him out that night.

As I waited in the line, other members of our coffee group arrived and got situated with the appropriate bingo packets. We were allowed to bring in our own food and drink, so it was a pretty nice spread. The bingo center was also selling some food and drinks.

Bingo started right at 6:30 p.m. Some of our group had paper packets, which started at $14. Others grabbed the computer which started at $39. You could add on to your original purchases with extra cards. There were staff members walking around selling extra cards, especially for the big jackpots — one was over $10,000 and the other was over $30,000. No one won any of the big jackpots, so I imagine the next night the line must have been even longer.

In the end, we had one of our coffee group members win a bingo round, which made it all worth it. Luckily it was the last round, so when our crew began cheering, we didn’t get too many looks from the regular bingo attendees. Those bingo goers were serious — we were just there to have fun, get together and maybe win a little green.

When I first arrived, I was worried about how everyone would like this coffee since the crowd wasn’t as welcoming as I had hoped. But in the end, there were a few folks who stopped by our table as they were leaving with a kind word to our crew.

If you are looking for something different for a unit coffee, I would suggest checking out the bingo center. You never know; you could leave a big winner.

Reena O’Brien is an Army spouse and Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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