Tabula Rasa Part Deux

We’ll pause here for a quick intermission from making NFL picks and deciding which teams will win in the MLB postseason, to get back to the foundation of this blog. Which, I guess if we’re nitpicking, wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with sports in the first place. One of my first posts on here — appropriately titled “Tabula Rasa” — reads:

Slowly these posts will slip from every day to every other day, to maybe once or twice a week, until the day where I look back at this blog and hate everything I’ve written on it, begrudge the fact that I actually wasted my time writing shit that means absolutely nothing, bemoan my word choices and style, et. all. Then I’ll probably delete it so it will seem like it never existed in the first place, and in no time it’ll evaporate from my memory.

I wrote that on October 29th of last year; it surprises me and kind of doesn’t surprise me at all that, a year later, I’m pretty much doing the same thing I was back then.

What am I supposed to say? I love writing. That’s all.

As I’ve jotted down ad nauseam within the walls of this vertical, I’m a table games dealer. It’s my job to kiss everyone’s ass in hopes they’ll tip me, unless of course I realize they aren’t the tipping type and then I don’t give a fuck and hope they lose. It’s just the nature of the business: Customer service is vital, but there’s always a limit to how much effort you put into it. I can pay out any blackjack bet you put in front of me, and know the shortcuts of how to calculate 30:1, 40:1, 6:5, 7:5, 9:5… pretty much whatever you want. I’m your man.

I’m really good at math, so it makes sense why I break my back trying to be an acceptable writer of words.

The thought hasn’t crept in as much as I once envisioned, but I imagine eventually I’ll be faced with one helluva philosophical dilemma. That is, what more could I be? What more could I have been?

A couple weeks after I got my first job dealing, I went back to dealer school to learn roulette — a separate course. As a young man in an industry dominated by 30- and 40- and 50-something year-olds, when I first got on the roulette table is when I had the epiphany that I was actually really good at this shit. So I learned it, then I started dealing it.

About a week ago I began learning craps; again, a separate course. Craps is, for all intents and purposes, the end-all game as far as dealers are concerned. If you know craps, you can deal in any casino in the world. Since there’s so much that goes into it, and since most dealers who learn it work full-time, it takes a long time to learn. Six months is the ballpark length. I’m trying to finish in three.

The casino and, more specifically, being a dealer, has taught be more about myself and life than I ever thought it would. I’m sure it sounds dumb to the outsider — I mean, it’s only dealing — but it’s truly the only thing during my 24 years of existence that I’ve put any kind of effort into. Out of high school I wanted to be a writer, but I never knew what studying meant. I coasted through fifteen years of public schooling on natural ability, and another three years of college on the same. I wish so fucking badly that I knew what it was like to work for something I wanted, more than anything, when I was younger.

As a happy piece of humanity, it’s fair to say I wouldn’t be a dealer right now if I put effort into the moments I took for granted growing up. But since I’m here, and since this is what I’m doing with my life, I’m going to be the sharpest mutherfucker around at what I’m doing.

A couple months ago I found myself sitting in my backyard, sharing drinks and smoking cigarettes with an 18 year-old girl lightyears beyond most kids her age. She was asking me about my job, what it’s like and how someone gets into that sort of line. I told her it was easy work with even easier money, but that most people think it’s difficult because oh my god there’s math.

There was nothing sexy about the situation. Just two individuals talking life, for the most part. I got the impression she was curious, if not completely interested (but I don’t want to give myself too much credit), but she said something that really sticks out in my memory for some reason:

I’d be so down for that. Like, you have no idea. I just want to take the easy way out. 

In reality, I think that’s exactly what I did. I took the easy way out. Maybe if I was feeling creative I would embellish some narrative about how all I did was exploit a market inefficiency, how I tapped into an occupation people don’t know about that’s actually a lot easier and more profitable than people think. But I won’t. Instead I’ll wonder.

And it frustrates me as an intellectual that an 18 year-old could master the psychological puzzle that I hadn’t even considered.

Being a dealer plays into all of my tendencies. I get to talk and curse whenever I want. Sports are always on TV for me to watch whenever people aren’t at my table. I get to make money without feeling like I’m working to make money. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say it backhandedly kills me for whatever other profession I’d get into. It just doesn’t feel like work.

At the same time, it’s my validation that says this is what I get when I work hard for something. It’s what makes me think I could have been a perfect lawyer, or a perfect doctor, or a perfect anything. Because in the end, I know all it would have taken was the same effort.

I’m never satisfied, so I’m going to have to get into another business at some point. I just need to remember the work ethic it takes, rather than relying on what I’ve always known to be true: How fucking amazing I am at every goddamn thing.

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