Issue 256
August 8 - August 14, 2005
Volume 5
page 3

How to Get a Job in Vegas
By Barney Vinson

My buddy Russ was working at the Sahara. Even though I wasn't employed at the moment we still stayed in touch. He was a funny guy. Grew up in some little burg in Pennsylvania, his folks had a lot of money, and one day he came tooling into Vegas in a new Cadillac. He loved that car more than life itself, waxed it so many times it didn't even get wet when it rained.

When we worked at the Mint we'd take turns driving to work, my Mustang one day, his shiny Cadillac the next. You couldn't smoke in his car, couldn't even fart in his car, but it was nice being in it, just the sound of rubber humming on concrete, whereas the sound in my Mustang was metal rubbing on metal. If I didn't dump a quart of oil in it every morning, it wouldn't even start.

I'd pick Russ up, or he'd pick me up, and off to work we'd go. I was always in a good mood, itching to get back to the Mint and make some more tokes. Russ, on the other hand, hated it, hated everything about it. The idea of manual labor was almost beyond him. He just wanted to watch TV and drink pop. We called it soda water in Texas but Russ called it pop, and that's where I picked up that expression. Ask for a pop in Texas, and the waitress would look at you like you were from another planet.

So we'd be driving down the street, heading for work, me busting at the seams and ready for action, Russ hunched over in his seat, his face so solemn and forlorn it would make a blind man cry. "Man oh man," he would moan. "What a beautiful frigging day. And we've got to go to frigging work. Man oh frigging man."

And by the time we got to the Mint, I was just as depressed as he was. "Man oh man," I would say to the other guys. "We've got to go to frigging work."

Russ knew a guy back in his hometown who'd come to Vegas before he did, and that's what got Russ out here in the first place. His name was Bill and he was working at the Dunes, where he was already like an assistant pit boss. He couldn't actually hire anyone, but he could introduce you to the person who did. Any way you could get your foot in the door you jumped on it, and Russ said that he'd introduce me to Bill, who just might introduce me to the shift boss.

"I'll call him on the frigging phone," Russ said.

What more could I frigging ask for?

Well, sure enough, three days later Russ pulled up to my apartment in his Cadillac, parking three feet from the curb so he wouldn't bang the door getting out. "Go in the Dunes tonight and ask for Bill," he said. "He's expecting you." Then he handed me $250.

"What's that for?" I asked.

"Bill needs some frigging money. He's got a frigging gambling problem. He needs $500 to make his frigging house payment."

I looked at the money, only $250. Was I missing something here? "Well, hell, you gotta put $250 with it! You give him the five hundred, he'll get you the frigging job. Okay?"

"Yeah, I guess so. If you say so."

"Oh, and one more thing. When you get on your feet, I want my $250 back."

"Sure, no problem."

"Say, you got any frigging pop?"

I was getting the general idea about how things worked on the Strip. No wonder I hadn't been able to get a job there for two whole years. It wasn't about experience, or knowledge, or any of that other stuff. It was about money. You wanted a job, you paid for it. Nothing in life was free.

(To be continued)


About the Author

Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid. He is also the casino gaming columnist for Las Vegas Style magazine among others.

Books by the Author

A respected casino executive provides stories from the heart of Las Vegas: its people, pit bosses, presidents, pioneers, and the players who keep the town beating.

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