Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Heat of the Day

It's still awfully hot outside, and even though I've got a to-do list a mile long, I'm gonna spend the next few hours chillin' out under the ceiling fan with a nice icy-cold cocktail in my hand...

So, what else is new?

Oh yeah, almost forgot--I dropped a small bomb yesterday. Yep, I'm leaving Vegas, maybe in about ten days or so. I was gonna wait until Wednesday, September 1st, but as it turns out, some of my people back in Tennessee want to go camping over Labor Day weekend, so if I adjust my timetable, then yeah, I'll be able to get there, unpack, and get settled for a couple of days before heading out to Lake Barkley with the hippies and hillbillies.

Of course, the big question on everyone's mind is--What brought this on?

Well, I've been thinking about it for a long time. A very long time. After visiting Tennessee for two weeks back in April, I really didn't want to leave. I love it there, but I like living in Vegas. It's been home for over five years. I have a lot of friends here, a good social scene, and plenty of things to keep me entertained. But the shine is off the diamond, and it has been for quite some time.

First and foremost, working for a casino, bottom line, in comparison, sucks worse than any job I've ever had. And I've had some bad ones in the past. Seriously, as a front-line casino employee, you're nothing better than an easily replaceable piece of meat. Back when times were good, when I first moved here, casinos had to compete to get quality employees--that's why I found a damn good job right off the bat and got off of the extra-board in less than a year. But now, the economy sucks so bad that there are a hundred people competing for each and every job. That means minimum wage, no benefits, and maybe three days a week on the schedule--if you're lucky. And if you don't like it, well, there are dozens of people fresh out of dealer school who barely speak English who will be happy to have the scraps the casinos are handing out.

I know that sounds bitter, but it's not. It's just reality. I learned back in my 'pit' days just how little a casino cares about the people working there. Believe me, if Vegas could get rid of every table game and convert the entire city to nothing but penny slots and video poker, they would do it in a heartbeat. Working as a poker dealer was great, money-wise, but unless you got hired on full-time in a room that was just opening, you never had a shot of ever getting full time, much less ever seeing any benefits.

For a relatively healthy single guy with no dependents, it was a damn good gig. At Sunset Station, I could count on making an easy $150 or more every night in tips, tax-free. But if I worked a full shift, than that number would go up to $200 or more, and I had more $300+ nights than I can count right off the top of my head. Working at Bally's--previously known as 'Job #2'--it was always more than $200 a night. That's right--in the entire time I worked there, almost three months, I never made less than $200 a night unless I took an early out. That's a gold mine right there, folks. If you're working at least thirty two hours a week, that's over 50K a year tax-free! (We kept the IRS happy by signing a tip-compliance agreement--the Evil Empire would pay us minimum wage, but we'd get taxed at a significantly higher amount, but it would all come out of our bi-weekly hourly paycheck. Everything that went in the pocket at night was ours to keep). Imagine what a single person has to make out in the real world to net $52,000 a year, and you can see why I really wanted to get that job.

But alas, it was not meant to be. Harrah's after all, is still a huge corporation, and even if I made it through the other dozens of applicants and got down to the last group of candidates for the final two spots, the white guy ain't gonna get the job when the other people are women and/or minorities. Just ain't gonna happen, no matter how much experience I had, how qualified I was, or how damn good of I dealer I am. (And I know, as does everyone else I worked with, that I was the best damn dealer they brought on for the summer). That's just the way life works. We're in the age where diversity trumps ability, so it's not surprising. My only hope is that the people that end up getting the job have more experience than me, that's all.

But here's the thing. I'm not disappointed. And let me tell you all something that I never told anyone; I had decided a few weeks ago that even if I got the job, I'd only work it for another year--just through the 2011 World Series, and then I would quit and leave Vegas anyways. There was no shot of ever getting to be full-time or getting any benefits or insurance, and being in the casino business, no chance whatsoever of stability (Seriously, everyone I know out here who works in the casino business has been laid off or fired at least once or twice in their Vegas tenure. Everyone. No exceptions). I had grown disaffected with Las Vegas some time ago, as far as employment goes, and was already laying the groundwork for my escape. But the sucky economy (15% unemployment in southern Nevada) and the fact that there are only six companies to work for in this business only served to accelerate my plans.

I came out here five-and-a-half years ago looking for a fresh start and hoping to do something interesting. I was bored shiatless in Nashville at the time. I had the most boring job in the world--good money, but dear god it was a long eight hours every day--not too many friends outside my family, no brother-in-laws to hang out with, Reverend Dave was married and too far away to goof off with, none of my nieces were 21 yet, so they couldn't go out and have fun, and I was renting the back room at Mamasan's place, which really curtailed the ol' social life.

This time around, I've got a much wider social network, leads on some good jobs, I'll be living down in Spring Hill, and all of my sisters now have cool husbands, so I've got three brothers-in-law to hang out with, and Reverend Dave is single again and only a hundred miles away. Plus all my nieces are old enough to drink and they're much more fun to hang out with nowadays.

I'm really looking forward to getting back, and I'm not stressed in the least.

This past month or so, I've had the worst insomnia, and I attributed it directly to the stress of not knowing about my job situation. Once I got the rejection call from Bally's yesterday afternoon, it's like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. Surprisingly, it put me in a great mood!

We had poker night again last night, and after it was over, instead of staying up all night like I usually did, I went straight to bed and slept like a baby for seven hours. Then I got up this morning, puttered for about two hours, decided to lie down again, and immediately went to sleep for another six hours. I didn't move--I was like a rock. I swear, it's like the stress evaporated from my system and I feel like a whole new person.

So now I've got about ten days to take about the Batch Pad and prepare to pack it all up and move. Tonight, once it cools off, I'm gonna go wash the truck and clean out the interior, then head over to Walmart and get a bunch of storage totes and start packing up the books, CDs, and DVDs. Tomorrow I start on my 'office', shredding stuff I know longer need and packing up all but the bare essentials associated with my desk and computer. Oh, and laundry and the closet will need to be addressed. I've also got to get a towing frame hitch put on the truck and arrange for a U-haul trailer.

As much as I'd like to keep all the furniture, I've already got a few offers. My buddy Dave love love loves my coffee table and is gonna buy it. AC wants the liquor cabinet if he can convince mama into coughing up the cash. And another guy wants the couch. Plus I think James wants my tall bookcase.

I'm keeping my dining room table, my headboard and bed frame (the mattress and box spring are going to the dumpster), and my TV stand. Everything else is for sale. Reverend Dave wants my old secondary 27" TV, but if I can find a buyer out here, I'm gonna get rid of it--one less heavy thing to pack. Oh, and I had a big pile of books I was gonna take down and donate to the library, and one of my buddies already laid claim to them and took 'em last night.

Mamasan has a big, empty, and most importantly dry storage shed at her place, and has kindly offered me the use of it for as long as I need, so I can bring back as much stuff as I want. My only limit is the amount of stuff I can fit in a trailer and drag behind the truck.

As far as the future of this blog goes, for a minute or so I'd considered shutting it down, but that ain't gonna happen. Of course, once I pull the plug on the cable and such, I'll be incommunicado for a week or so, but once I get settled, I'm back in business. One of the main reasons that I didn't post much lately was because of the job situation and the need for discretion. Now that time has passed, so I can spill every bean I've been sitting on for the past several years--no bridges to burn, but then again, no need to keep secrets anymore, either. I've got a feeling that this here website is about to get a lot more interesting.

Anyhow, that's the news. I'll post more tidbits as I can when I take a break from tearing down the batch pad and packing up my stuff. But my time in Vegas is short, and I've got to make the most of it.

Talk again soon--


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