Ouchies, where does the time go?
Yes, it's hard to believe but true, my thirty-third anniversary as a casino dealer is right around the corner. Unfortunately, it's easy to point out that the gaming industry provides dead-end jobs or to grouse about the harsh hours, lack of dignity from serving the agitated public, the dangerous and unsanitary working conditions or the shallow, but ever-eroding pool of employee benefits. Still, I choose to see my longevity as an accomplishment. Especially when you consider my field has a burn-out rate under five years, due to the reasons above.
Much of my success is due to the countless hordes of players (customers), whose generosity, (tips, a.k.a., tokes), have supported my approximately, 8,250-shift career. Now at Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to voice my appreciation to all those nice people. However, I would also like to pay homage to another countless horde...the disgusting low-lifes, devious knuckleheads and tedious wackos who through the difficulty caused by their eccentricities, short-sightedness and selfishness, have entertained me enough to provide a bounty of fodder to lampoon...and share with my readership.
MY FIRST CRAPS DEALING JOB WAS THE SLOTS-A-FUN CASINO, IN LAS VEGAS. DON'T LET THIS CONTEMPORARY PHOTO FOOL YOU, MY NINETY SHIFTS AT THAT DUMP, (JANUARY-APRIL 1979), WERE PURE TORTURE. BUT LUCKY FOR ME, ONCE I WAS OUT, I COULD LOOK BACK AT IT AND LAUGH.
For some mislead reason, I chose to withhold the overwhelming majority of my odd-ball casino experiences from my father. Even from the safety of retrospect coupled with humorous embellishment, I feared that he would be disappointed that I exposed myself to seedy situations and associated with dubious people.
I couldn't have been more wrong. My stories have a great entertainment value and therefore, dad was short-changed. I am now certain that he would have looked back and laughed with me. When I realized that heinous mistake, I became motivated to chronicle those events for all to read.
I got this revelation from my mother. She read my work and although she may not have loved them all, mom made it clear that my dad would have been my number-one fan. On the positive side, my twenty stories, two screenplays, novel and this, "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," blog will be etched into the stone of cyber-space and be an eternal part of my legacy. Plus, my blitherings encouraged my son Andrew to write...much more better than me.
Mom not only encouraged me to write but she was also a springboard to bounce ideas off. She and I had shared a lot of one-on-one time after dad passed away in 1995. Despite the hardships of being a widow, she made it a point to talk about my interests.
These conversations occurred during our little outings. And like my casino career, our adventures seemed to attract low-lifes, knuckleheads and wackos. The three incidents that mom and I liked best were:
"THE BARFLY IN McSORLEY'S." One of the times that mom and I played tourist in Greenwich Village, her body's internal alarm clock alerted her that it was time for her three o'clock coffee. We were fairly close to McSorley's Old Ale House, (15 East 7th Street), so I playfully suggested that we go for a beer. Mom's daily regiment was precise...so her need for a mid-day fix of java was as reliable as the hourly geyser in Yellowstone Park. That is why it was shocking that mom sited the bar's historical significance, mentioned that she hadn't been there since she was a girl and agreed to go.McSORLEY'S HAS BEEN A FIXTURE IN THE EAST VILLAGE SINCE 1854. MY SEPTEMBER 22, 2008 BLOG ABOUT IT, MENTIONED MY GOING-AWAY PARTY BEFORE I MOVED TO LAS VEGAS, (FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY 1979). ALSO INCLUDED WAS, BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT THE PUB AND THE BARFLY INCIDENT.
The second mom and I entered the saw-dust-joint, we discovered that the businessmen who frequent McSorley's don't get there until after five. Through the stinky, thick, bluish veil of cigarette smoke, the rabble we found were the dregs of society. Still we felt safe and without hurrying, enjoyed a draught each. I used the unisex restroom before leaving. On our way out, mom discreetly pointed out a drunken low-life on the verge of passing out. This fat slob motorcycle gang wannabe, looked extra funny because the wad of spittle in his red beard looked like three-week old mashed potatoes.
In the fresh air outside mom said, "That Hell's Angel guy came over to me while you were in the men's room and asked, 'Is that dude coming back?'" Down through the years, I always reminded mom that if she didn't mind paying, she would have had a much better time, if she let him pick her up.
"NEXT STOP, ALBANY." Another one of our jaunts took us to Randazzo's Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn.RANDAZZO'S ON EMMONS AVENUE, HAS BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR OVER 75 YEARS. IT WAS NO LUNDY'S. (THE ORIGINAL LUNDY'S WAS OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT...A COUPLE BLOCKS AWAY, BUT CLOSED IN 1979). RANDAZZO'S AS A SECOND CHOICE, WAS STILL GREAT. MOM AND I TYPICALLY ORDERED; MANHATTAN CLAM CHOWDER, STEAMERS AND EITHER CALAMARI OR SCUNGILLI, OVER LINGUINI FRA DIABLO.
On one occasion, before mom and I returned to my car, we were approached by a man about my age. His camel-colored corduroy sports jacket with the elbow patches was a little raggedy but he seemed okay. In a pleasant and polite manner he asked, "Could you give me a lift to Albany?" I said, "We're heading to Canarsie, Albany Avenue is way out of our way." In the most genuine way he said, "No, not Albany Avenue...the city of Albany." Suddenly, it became clear that I was dealing with a knucklehead. So in a courteous tone, I turned him down without mentioning that I couldn't spare the extra nine hours to run him up there.
"'GRANDPA' AL LEWIS SHOULD HIDE IN THE KITCHEN." Our favorite wacko story stemmed from another excursion to Greenwich Village. Mom and I were doing some power window shopping when we decided to find a place to eat. At the last storefront on the street, we mulled the idea of getting matching, mother and son tattoos. But that was forgotten when we turned the corner and saw, "GRAMPA'S BELLA GENTE," restaurant.A COUPLE OF YEARS EARLIER, I PASSED-UP AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET AL LEWIS. THAT STORY IS INCLUDED IN MY FEBRUARY 1, 2010 BLOG, "SIDE BY SIDE WITH SINATRA."
Grandpa's opened in 1988. Mom said she read that it had a decent reputation so we gave it a try. Our lunch was far from wonderful but better than average. However our visit became memorable while we were waiting for the check. That's when Mr. Lewis and an associate came in and sat at the farthest table, next to the kitchen.
I wasn't star-struck but I thought it would be cool for mom and I to drop by and introduce our self. Mom wasn't interested so I forged ahead without her. I wanted to tell Mr. Lewis how we once almost crossed paths and congratulate him on his career, ( TV's, "CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU," as well as his much more famous role in the, "MUNSTERS)."
DURING THE 60-EPISODE RUN, (1961-1963), OF "CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU?" AL LEWIS PLAYED OFFICER LEO SCHNAUSER.
A discrepancy in Grandpa Al's birth certificate prevents the authorities from determining a true age, at the time of his 2006 death, (82 or 95). Up close in the mid-1990's, with all due respect to the man, I thought he took his Dracula persona too far...he looked like a zombie. Regardless of his actual age, (he still had another ten years in him), to me, he looked unhealthy and awful. By the time you add-in his stale, medicine "scent," to his pasty complexion and abnormally long, yellowish fingernails, he was both scary and nauseating.
So while I was excited to make his acquaintance, I changed my mind and cut my audience short when I shook his cold, damp, dead-fish hand. On the way out mom said, "That was fast." I said, "I'm glad I didn't meet him before we ate. When you look like that, you should hide in the kitchen."
Hopefully when the current economic uncertainty turns around, we'll all look back at the terrible situations we face today and appreciate our perseverance...and have a good laugh when it's over. It's the same in the casino environment. Survival is just a matter of understanding the true nature of the job and enduring the tyrannical managers, malignant players and villainous coworkers. If you remain strong and remember that the negativity is temporary, you'll be confident in the knowledge that the agony will fade and be replaced with a lifetime of comic relief.
My point was reinforced over the summer when a foreign man with little command of our language came to my roulette table. Like a pressure cooker, I quietly watched him for fifteen minutes as he bottle-up his increasing wrath while hemorrhaging $800.00. He bought another hundred dollars in chips. Rather than his usual ten number spread, he made two bets. One for sixty and the other for forty dollars.
He hit the $40.00 bet, (and won $1,400.00). As if he lost everything he owned in the world, he aimed his ire at me and emptied a brutal book of profanity, laced insults at me...in suddenly perfect English. Even General Patton would have blushed after hearing it.
His reaction didn't make sense (he won) but I didn't fight back. I caught eye contact with him as I slid his payoff forward. During a pause in his ravings I shrugged, "Everyday can't be Christmas." He arched one eyebrow and said in his heavy accent, "Everyday CAN be Christmas?" I smiled, "No. Every day CAN'T be Christmas." I could see him processing the information. During an awkward lull, I guessed that he was translating my statement into his language and formulating a response back in English. Finally, he smiled and said, "It CAN'T be Christmas every day...that is very funny. Get me a pen and paper, I want to write it down." And he did. More importantly he kept the rest of his insults to himself.
So whether your finances are bothering you, things are tough at work or strange things get in your way when gallivanting with your mother...don't over react and appreciate the fact that maybe not at that second or that week...but some day, you'll laugh at your strife.
Happy Thanksgiving! And don't wait to appreciate the cornucopia of life once a year. Adopt my gratitude attitude and you'll get through just about anything.