onsdag 17. juli 2019

A novelist’s stint impersonating the ultra-rich in China

In the city of Macau, somewhere in the labyrinth of one of the largest casinos in the world, I was sitting at a high-limit table with my colleague Glen. The game was baccarat. We were playing in the V.I.P. section, after buying entry with nearly thirty thousand dollars. The money was not ours. We were on assignment for a niche consulting company, there to evaluate the resort’s luxury services. The work is akin to that of secret shoppers; we’d been hired to pose as high-roller customers, to test the quality of the services that we received in the suites, restaurants, and bars, and at the gaming tables.

We found ourselves on the kind of streak that lives in fantasies, the kind that obliterates from memory a hundred old losses of equal magnitude. Glen (whose name I’ve changed) was giddy, but we would have stood out even without his euphoric exclamations. He is white, and I am a woman. The table was otherwise occupied by silent Chinese men, who continued playing, it seemed, almost against their will.