If we were to concentrate on one negative aspect of the job, I'd say that an actual germophobe could never work (or spend any time) in a casino. That means, my friend GZIMBO is not clinically suffering from mysophobia because she does enjoy shows and other high-brow casino amenities as well as gambling.
Some of the common disgusting health habits gamblers have displayed in front of me include; picking nose, biting nails, finger in eyes and the ever popular girlfriend squeezing her boyfriend's zits. Those hands touch the cash, the chips and the equipment. Any casino dealer who doesn't rush to wash their hands on break...is nuts, (I am not a big believer in hand sanitizer but for those who swear by it, the "convenient" canisters are usually empty).
The gaming staff shouldn't be considered hypochondriacs because they feel the need for "protection." Even something that casino management can control, like a ban on smoking has never attained the universal approval it deserves because the bigwigs are afraid to lose profits, (and seeing how casinos are no longer paying for health insurance..a total ban on smoking is more vital than ever).
So in the name of practicing "safe" casino dealing, the only intelligent solution would be, to include full body condoms as a part of every casino employee's uniform.
|IN THE 1990's , I THOUGHT I WAS BEING ORIGINAL WHEN I JOKED ABOUT DEALING CASINO GAMES, IN FULL BODY CONDOMS. SO I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED AT HOW MANY PICTURES THERE ARE OF THEM ON THE INTERNET.|
Casino patrons would be best served if they played in full body condoms too. But that'll never happen. It's comical to me when a complaint is made by a player...about a fellow player's health habits. They fail to realize that we (casino workers) must suffer through the same sights and smells right along with them. The big difference is, a dealer is glued to their table, while a nauseated customer is free to come and go. Strangely, whether it's due to superstition, selfishness, stupidity or laziness gamblers are not easily moved.
I remember when I dealt craps at the Las Vegas Stardust Casino, we had a regular player (an insignificant flea) who smelled so disgusting...that a skunk on steroids would have been an improvement He was a local construction worker who despite the heat of the desert, opted to gamble before freshening up at home.
|YIKES! THIS STOCK PHOTO CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF HOW OUR "FLEA" CAME TO THE CASINO.|
This malodorous player,spoke broken English, in had a heavy Eastern European accent. His lack of comprehension, especially when we spoke metaphorically, gave the staff a green light to hurl encoded barbs about his noxious stench. These childish insults went over his head while entertaining the neighboring players We hoped the offended players might be inspired to gang-up on this pollution factory and run him out of town...or at least to another table...or educate him on how badly he smelled. But those morons were so fickle, no one ever challenged this great unwashed bastard.
We nicknamed this undesirable "Stinky." Eventually, he caught on and took offense but because he was fickle too, didn't do anything about it. So we developed another idea to instigate an individual player to unwittingly help rid us of this plague.
First we identified an innocent gambler. The most common set-up for our sting operation was to talk about the old Abbott and Costello TV show. We'd pretend to be struggling to recall Joe Besser's character's name...until our mark, (or someone else in the crowd), blurted out, "Stinky."
No one knows whatever happened to Stinky but it wasn't a spectacular black-op on our part. Maybe he finally took a shower...and melted?
I was recently telling the Stinky story to JKL. He sighed, "I'm glad I l got out of the business and left all that bullshit behind. That had to be the worst thing you ever had to suffer through." I said, "No. I've gone through plenty but the most nauseating one of all...also took place at the Stardust."
In 1980, my impression of being a Las Vegas boxman (craps supervisor sitting between the dealers) was that it was an "old man job." This was especially true at the Stardust because the veteran dealers (overwhelmingly 35-55), didn't need really need an overseer, (I was 24, so even though my ability was decent, my crew kept an eye on me).
Most of these old-time boxman liked to just sit there and chit-chat. I liked the ones who bragged about their past, (the hot women they were with, being treated like a king in Havana, teaching Elvis to shoot dice, witnessing a murder at a Runyanesque speak-easy casino in New Orleans or being in on a big fix at the track). It didn't matter that I didn't believe them, it was pure entertainment.
Seventy year-old boxman Tony Lane stood out because he didn't fit into the cool category. He was introspective and could stare off into space for long periods of time. To me, his only purpose was to complain; these shoes, this chair, *that break-in dealer, my lunch, the friggin' government and so on.
*Technically, Tony venting about a break-in was him grousing about me. He didn't want to work any harder than he had too. So with a newbie on his game (me), he had to pay attention and exaggerate his exhaustion when he had to make corrections.
One night, we were running on automatic pilot when an eighth player shoe-horned into the last spot on my end of the table. The other gamblers winced, covered their mouth and nose, and stared down the grungiest low-life I ever saw.
This filthy, awful smelling bum (homeless man?), set down two, red, five-dollar chips. Through a toothless mouth he garbled, "Gimme ten ones." I fixated on his badly faded white "Happy-Face" tee-shirt. It was now yellowish brown with thick streaks of black perspiration lines in his brownish underarms. This stained shirt was also covered in moth holes with bigger ones near his navel. I might have had it bad but it baffled me how the folks next to him (rubbing up against him) didn't run away.
In my mind, I was calling our hero "Aqualung" as I prayed he'd lose every one dollar bet he in placed in the field.
|IN MARCH 1971, "AQUALUNG" BECAME JETHRO TULL'S FOURTH STUDIO ALBUM. DUE TO ITS URBANIZATION OF NATURE AND DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND RELIGION THEMES, IT IS NOW CONSIDERED ONE OF ROCK-N-ROLL'S MOST CEREBRAL RECORDINGS.|
I tried to avoid looking at Aqualung as the lyrics to the first stanza of the song raced through my mind:
Sitting on a park bench
Eyeing little girls with bad intent
Snot running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run.
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck.
Still, I gawked. I guess it's human nature, like rubbernecking as you pass a car wreck. So whenever he looked away, I got a better look at Aqualung, I concentrated on his matted-down, greasy, stringy, salt and pepper hair. I was expecting vermin to appear and crawl down his forehead, so I adjusted my spying to his unshaven face. There, I found that his stubble couldn't hide several open sores. Far worse, his left cheek was dominated by a dime-sized, reddish, knobby protuberance.
No matter how my weakening stomach and common sense demanded, I kept stealing looks...and soon paid a dear price. Maybe it's because everything is relative, but this poor unfortunate fellow was noticeably nervous about betting a dollar at a time. That's when his nasty, grimy fingernail started involuntarily picking at that mole on his face. In no time, this pustule engorged and inflamed to a purplish crimson. A surge of bile leaped from my stomach and into my mouth even before that baby started oozing blood.
I whispered to Tony Lane, "Hey Tone, this weasel is bleeding all over the chips." He looked over his bifocals and calmly said, "Kid, if you're really revolted, don't deal to him. Hell, in five minutes, I can find a hundred guys in the street who'd pay me to take your spot." I quietly wished that I could have thanked Tony for his sensitivity.
It took Aqualung thirty minutes to lose all ten bucks. I was thrilled that he was broke and about to leave. Instead, Aqualung put his infection festering fingers into his mouth. He was digging hard into the roof , maybe for a trapped food particle between his teeth. I was picturing him poking an eye out from the inside when he got everyone's attention as he stopped, gagged for a couple of seconds and started coughing. On his second try, Aqualung pulled something out of the farthest abyss of his pie-hole and tossed it on the craps table. We all gasped as this wet, squished-up, greenish, dice-sized paper thingy laid in limbo.
The game came to an uncharacteristic halt. In that awkward moment, I figured out what this mysterious, saliva saturated foreign object was as it slowly unraveled. Within seconds as spit strings snapped, this clump of phlegmy, mucus-laden paper blossomed, into a twenty-dollar bill.
I was in a semi-catatonic trance when Tony Lane like a judge banging his gavel, rapped his hand authoritatively on the table and blasted, "Giver here!" I said, "I ain't touching that scummy thing." Tony was growling under his breath but I sensed that everyone else was on my side. So I seized the opportunity to add a touch of levity. I grabbed two, one dollar chips and playfully knocked this putrid orb like a soccer player dribbling. Each alternate "kick" brought the spit-ball closer to Lane. Finally he lost his patience, grabbed the paddle (that plunges the paper money into the cash box) and brought the bill in front of him.
Suddenly, Tony wasn't so keen on risking contamination. He gingerly pressed one edge of the bill down with a one-dollar chip and used the paddle to flatten the money, (for the benefit of the eye in the sky). The old curmudgeon fought it off as best he could but he laughed as he pointed at Aqualung and said, "Give that gentleman twenty-dollars."
Lane and I were of the same mind when we both stuck our infected one-dollar chips into the back row of the chip bank. The incident should have brought us closer together but it was never mentioned again. Maybe in his forty-year career, he saw a lot worse?
Sometimes I tell mesmerized young gamblers at my table who think I have a cool job, "Stay in school, the casino industry isn't for everybody." I doubt GZIMBO would last a day and JKL paid his dues and was thrilled to find another way to earn a living. So luckily, my MGTP legions have me to tell you the inside stories that most people don't want to hear. And as long as you're still listening, let's close with some classic buffer music, Jethro Tull's, "AQUALUNG," to ease you into the rest of your day...
Unless Tony Lane is 105 years-old, I hope up in boxman's heaven, he can do a google search of his name and relive this golden, yet disgusting nugget from my life and maybe his too.