The newspapers are always full of tragic tales of woe, describing a cacophony of terrible situations you are just grateful not to be involved in. Be it floods, terrorist attacks, lunatic dogs on the rampage or bizarre accidents involving household items, the list is endless.
It is a long time, however, since I read an article and was so overcome with gratitude not to be “that poor unfortunate soul” I almost wept. The story which struck me so was that of Behar Merlaku, “Who the hell is Behar Merlaku?” I hear you say, well if you listen, I will tell you.
Poor oul’ Behar decides to go down to the local casino in Bregenz, Austria to have a flutter on the fruit machines, as many of us have done in the past. Anyway, Behar happened to be playing on one of those “high roller” machines, the type you see in Las Vegas with the colossal jackpots, and didn’t the cherries and the berries and the coconuts or whatever line themselves up in a favourable position setting in motion a series of loud ring-a-ding-dinging and flashing congratulatory lights accompanied by gasps of “oh my god” being whispered from every mouth in the vicinity, including oul’ Behar himself. The gargantuan sum of 44,000,000 Euros, (yes, that’s million, no, my finger didn’t get stuck on the “0” key) was displayed as his prize. Oh joy, oh heaven,oh happy days, the dream of every gambler since the first dice were rolled, the BIG one, that win with which to hang up your lucky horseshoe and call it a day. Why then, I hear you ask, would I so “overcome with gratitude not to be that unfortunate soul”?
Since you ask, I will tell you. Shortly after Behar picked himself up off the floor, a kindly member of the Casino staff came over and politely informed him, the win displayed was in fact not a win at all, it was a computer malfunction coupled with a human error which led the display to momentarily elevate Behar to the status of multi millionaire. No sooner had he a chance to worry about whether to buy a Bugatti Veyron or an Aston Martin DB9 and which Caribbean Island to live on than he was brought back down to Earth with a bang, offered “70 euro and a free meal as compensation.”, an offer, which no sooner had he refused than he was banned immediately from the Casino.
The decision by the Casino to “welch” on the bet is being fought by Behars newly acquired legal team, with the casino citing not only a computer malfunction which is the fault of some other company, but also the maximum payout under Austrian law is a paltry 2-million. If Behars’ day in court is as unlucky as his day in the casino, his life shall never be the same again. Every time he see’s someone drive by in a Maserati, every time he see’s an ugly bloke with red hair and glasses walk arm in arm with a supermodel, every morning he has to get out of bed for work or under-go any of the other tedious endurance us peasants face on a daily basis, he will remember that, for the briefest of moments, he was above it all.
The case is to make legal history in Austria, with its first hearing to be on January 10 next year. And will be followed closely by the Casino owners, the voyeuristic public and of course the most unfortunate gambler in all of Austria Behar Merlaku. I too, shall keep an eye on the progress of the case and keep my faithful 2 million readers posted. Keep your fingers crossed for Behar….