“Grab them by the pussy.” –Presidential candidate, Donald Trump
My first real job was at a casino here in Kansas City North. I was in my early 20’s and I responded to a job fair right after riverboat gambling was legalized in Missouri. They were looking to ramp up and were really hiring just about anybody.
I originally applied to be a games dealer, just thinking that it would be a job that pays enough to fill my beer fridge. But I had a short stint in college as a security guard one holiday season. I basically stood at the front of a Toys R Us in a security guard uniform. Your classic rent-a-cop. But this apparently caught the eye of the person sorting resumes at the job fair. “Go talk to Charlie.” And he pointed me to a table without a line.
Charlie, was the security manager for the casino, and began talking to me about when I could start. “We open in two weeks. I’m hoping to get you down next week to start training.”
I didn’t really even know what he was talking about, but I agreed to come down the next week. My directions were to get processed by HR and head downstairs to the basement of the boat.
It was clear this wasn’t for a job dealing cards.
I was trained as a casino surveillance officer. And by “trained” I mean that I was shown how to navigate my way around a keypad and a joystick that gave me access to about 60 cameras around the two-floor casino. This was 1994, and all but a few were in black and white. But most of them were PTZ which stands for Pan-Tilt-Zoom. There were a few static cameras like in the rooms with all of the cash, etc. But the idea was that we were to look around. Be the “eye in the sky.” Our orders were to observe and report and I was part of the inaugural crew for the first days at the casino.
Being single, I was assigned to the graveyard shift. I showed up at 10 pm and worked until 7 am. Back then, the casinos weren’t 24 hour operations. They closed at 2 am and reopened at 6 am. During the hours the casino was closed, the slot machines were emptied of all of their change by a group that literally crawled from slot machine to slot machine on their knees and pulling out tubs of coins. Called “the drop,” my job was to follow them from machine to machine confirming they weren’t putting stray dollar coins in their pockets. (In fact, those folks had overalls without pockets.)
Once you got into a rhythm, it was very mindless work and for nearly five hours a night, there was not much to watch besides the drop. Sixty cameras watching five people roam around an empty casino floor. Oh, and there were two operators keeping an eye on things.
This brings me to tonight’s story and why I was reminded of it tonight.
As a 23 year old, I wasn’t exactly the most savvy guy around the ladies. I had no… um, what’s the word? Game. I had no game. My camera mate was in his late 20’s and early on, he seemed to embody a confidence that I simply lacked. He was brash. He was loud. He was chatty. He was the only person I had to talk to for nine hours a day, five days a week.
At first, I was just happy to have someone to talk to. I’d never worked nights before and fighting sleep was a real challenge. So we talked about sports, and politics, and gambling. We talked just to hear ourselves talk at times whenever one of us would fade off.
But after a month, once we got to know each other and reach a level of comfort with each other, shit got real.
One day, I walked in and he motioned me over to his console. “Check out 40” meaning check out monitor 40. So I turned to the wall of monitors and there was a perfectly-framed cleavage shot right in the middle of the monitor. He laughed loudly and then spent the next three hours before the boat closed following this woman with the low-cut blouse around trying to get the perfect high-angled shot down her shirt.
I probably chuckled the first time I saw it. I even probably tried a few of my own in the days that followed.
But if you’ve seen one pair of black and white tits on a monitor sitting alone with another man, you’ve really seen them all. I didn’t really understand his obsession with it. And after the first few times, it really seemed beyond just the PG-13 rated goof and crossed over into it being gross and sad.
He would then start to sharpen his tongue proclaiming to me what he was going to do with her and he’d zoom in and out unbeknownst to an unsuspecting woman standing at a craps table. Oh he was going to give it to her good. Until he spotted some bigger knockers over on Table 7. So he’d jump over to camera 33 and zoom in and out for another 20 minutes.
I never stopped him. I never really reported him. I rolled my eyes a lot and just went about my day. I never even told him to cool it.
What I did do, however, was keep my distance from the guy. After a few days of humor, you quickly recognized the signs that put him in the category of “douchebag.” Or, in the parlance of the day, “deplorable.”
Now I’m certainly no saint when it comes to objectifying women, but he did help me identify some behaviors that were well over the line. But in this story, I played the part of Billy Bush and he played the part of The Donald. I probably should have said something or confronted the guy, or just not allowed it to happen. Sure, it was pretty tame compared to physical abuse, but it was still a dick move. Silence isn’t acceptable.
After a couple of months in that job, I began to simply hate it. Working with a gross misogynist in the middle of the night where you didn’t really talk for nine hours was my idea of hell. I needed something that better fit my personality, so I transferred to be a games dealer when the boat expanded a couple months later.
Dealing dice was one of the best jobs I ever had and I did it for four years.
I didn’t really think much about my partner down in the surveillance department after that. But I was reminded of him and his sniveling snicker when talk about “locker room talk” and “how guys talk” appeared in my Twitter timeline. Maybe the guy outgrew his obsession with being a peeping Tom. Maybe he didn’t. But he was at least instrumental in helping me identify the type of person I didn’t want to grow up to be.
And to the woman with the low-cut dress… I apologize.