Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Workday Wednesday - The Slot Host

The summer after my sophomore year of college I decided to take a more interesting route to summer jobs. I decided to work at a casino. I'm sure the fact that one of my friends had gotten a job there was part of the allure, but it also sounded more exciting than the office jobs I had been working.

I applied to Harrah's in North Kansas City, Missouri to be a slot host. That was back in the days when you had to use special coins to play the slot machines. It was my job to carry the casino's "money" and make change for the guests. There was intensive training for the job and a lot of rules. I specifically remember only being able to carry a see-through pouch into the building.
The uniform was hideous. Black polyester pants, a white collar-less dress shirt, this harlequin vest and a fantastic change belt. Which I might add that once loaded with "change" weighed a million pounds. I blame the change belt for my massive hips. I can't find any photos of me in the uniform which is probably best.

My lovely vest.
I'm not sure why I only worked one summer at the casino. In fact, I don't even remember quitting. That may explain why I still have the vest this many years later. I do remember loving the job. I wasn't very good at it, math has never been my best subject, but I loved talking with the guests and feeling the good vibes that radiated from them. Most people who come to a casino just come for fun...maybe thinking they'll win a tiny bit and have some drinks. Those are the fun people.

But to every coin there are two sides. I have so many stories about the sad people at the casino. The people there, every day, positive they are going to hit the big one...even though they can only afford the penny slots.

I once had a guest that was playing on quarter slot machines. She hit a jackpot and was so excited by the amount she won that she fell backward on her seat and hit her head on the machine behind her. She was okay, but her math was bad. She thought she won $1,000, but she won 1,000 quarters. Quite a difference and not really worth stitches.

My friend once waited on someone that had the same attitude in the penny slots. She kept asking my friend to hold her machine for her so she could go to the bathroom. She was just "sure" it was going to hit and she didn't want to leave the machine that she had put so much money in to. We were not allowed to hold machines, after all, they are completely random, so my friend said no. An hour later the same lady had her call light on. My friend returned only to find that the women had wet herself rather than leave her penny slot machine.

What a great job! If nothing else I have a lot of great stories. ;)


Wendy said...

I'm sure the casino provided a true slice of humanity with both its good and bad sides. I never worked such a job, but I did have to volunteer to work Bingo for my daughter's travel softball league. In the middle of cute people were the pathetic souls with their addictions: stacks of cigarettes, a line of troll dolls for good luck, and color-specific daubers.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

I went to a bingo hall once and saw the same thing! Wacky, but I suppose it makes people happy. I don't remember every seeing anyone at the casino with lucky items, other than what they wore on their person. Luck is such a funny thing!

Debi Austen said...

You've reminded me of the first time we bought a state lottery ticket about 25 years ago. We anguished over the "winning" numbers, plunked our dollar down, and patiently waited. Boy were we thrilled when we learned we'd guessed 4 of 6 numbers correctly and we thought we had hit the big time. We called our families (in another state), racking up the long distance charges, proudly exclaiming that we thought we'd won about $1,000. Hey, that was a lot of money 25 years ago for two struggling young kids.

Imagine our surprise when we marched in to the lottery office with our winning ticket only to discover we'd won $26.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Debi, how funny! Although I'm sure it was very un-funny then. But at least you had some white meat, albeit very little. ;)

John D. Tew said...

Great stories Heather! Better hold on to that vest. Not only is it now a family artifact, it could come in handy for future costume parties or Halloween. :-)

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Good point, John. I could be a magician!

Nancy said...

Heather, I'm trying to imagine you wearing that vest -- and I can! I'm not a gambler, have never been to a casino, but from your description I can imagine the environment you enjoying interacting with the people. Yes, I agree with John. Save the vest!