Franklin and his wife Flora Gibbs find themselves in Las Vegas thanks to Flora winning a slogan contest. Franklin is a grumpy, nasty, mean spirited man who finds joy in other people’s misery. Flora is a kind, friendly, and sweet woman who is able to see the bright side of life. Excited about this new adventure, Flora puts a nickel in a slot machine, pulls the lever, and loses her nickel, all the while being lectured by her husband for wasting money. As Franklin and Flora begin to leave the gambling floor to head to their room, Franklin is given a coin by an intoxicated man who coaxes Franklin not only to put the coin into the machine but to pull the lever. To the shock of the intoxicated man, Flora, and Franklin, Franklin wins money. Franklin decides once is enough, collects his winnings, and begins to move off the floor. While walking away from the slot machine, Franklin hears the machine calling his name.
Throughout their three day stay in Las Vegas, Franklin continues to be taunted by the slot machine. He can’t eat, he can’t sleep, and feels spending his winnings on the slot machines is the only way to get the machines to leave him alone. Flora finds her husband on the gambling floor putting coin after coin into the slot machine and not winning. He is a man possessed. He feels as if the machines are teasing him giving him just enough money in return to want to continue to play. Franklin finds himself with his last dollar coin and puts it into the machine only for the machine to break. Franklin begins yelling and pushing the slot machine around. Later that evening, while lying in bed, Franklin sees and hears the slot machine coming for him, but it is only his imagination as his wife does not see or hear it. Scared, Franklin takes his own life by jumping out of the window.
The lesson of this episode is clear, simple, and not prolific, Franklin’s problem isn’t the slot machine, it’s that he is a miserable human being. He is only happy when either bringing other people down or getting what he wants from people. Franklin is selfish. Franklin blames others for his lack of happiness. He finds joy in the slot machine only when the slot machine pays him money. He is not a happy man. He walks through life trying to bring others down to his misery level and is only satisfied when others feel as bad as he does. Miserable people will always be miserable because they blame others for this discontent and don’t take responsibility for their own happiness.
The lesson in this Twilight Zone episode comes from Flora, Franklin’s wife. She is happy and easy going. Her happiness comes from within. Flora was happy to have won the contest that brought her to Las Vegas. Flora was happy spending a nickel in a slot machine and not winning. It was the experience that brought her joy not the fact that she would win or lose. A lesson to be learned by Flora is not to surround yourself with miserable people as they only look to bring you down. Don’t let miserable people still your sunshine. Know their misery is something that you cannot fix and has nothing to do with you. Surround yourself with people and activities that make you happy and see the brighter side of life.