Confessions of a Blackjack Dealer: Part One
Okay, fine, I admit it. I’ve seen a lot of interesting things. People always assume so when they find out I worked as a blackjack dealer. “Why Tyler, you handsome, well-educated son of a gun, I bet you’ve got some crazy stories to tell.” I might respond to this in several ways, depending on who’s talking:
“Oh, sure, let me tell you all about the excitement of standing in one place all night and not engaging in conversation with the people around you.”
“You would think so, wouldn’t you? But it’s a regular customer service job. They just make it look glamorous in the movies. I bet you’ve got some really crazy stories to tell.”
“Stop hitting on me.”
I have some other strategies in case none of these responses work. My go-to move is to mentally check out of the conversation, let my eyes go all glassy and stuff. If they haven’t gotten the idea by then, I’ll start using one of those Vicks inhaler things while they’re talking – I carry one around for just such an occasion. Oh yeah, I have the whole “creep” checklist down pat.
Here’s the thing: you do, in fact, see a lot of interesting people when you’re dealing cards. You don’t get to meet them per se, but you do get to see them. This can actually be a very positive thing, come to think of it. Anyway, here’s what you get to see these people do every night: play blackjack. I see people from all walks of life come up to my table, sit down, play blackjack, and leave. Sometimes they tip me. Sometimes they yell at me.
The yelling is the worst part. In order to stay focused on my job, and in order to get as many tips as possible, I have to put on just the right persona: engaged yet solitary, pleasant yet official. I do wear a uniform, after all, and my behavior needs to be uniform too – especially when people yell at me. I can’t let that hair-trigger fight-or-flight response travel all the way from my head to my fist, or my feet.
Here’s my secret: Ritalin. There’s a reason why all the pro athletes who can get away with it are on this stuff, and it’s the same reason so many parents feed it to their children. It’s very, very calming. I’ve got a legitimate prescription from an ADHD specialist. When I’m on Planet R, nothing can get me down.
Right. You’re here for some stories, and for a change, I’m going to put away the inhaler and spill the beans. This is a big town. Me, I’m Robert DeNiro. I see things. I hear things. And when I tell you about it, only the names will be changed to protect the innocent. When I say “the innocent,” I’m talking about myself, of course.