Endless Reassurance

I keep coming back to the day I auditioned to become a dealer at the casino I’m at, and how quick my life has felt since then.

It was the day before Thanksgiving last year; it was warm, possibly mid-to-high 80’s in Rancho Mirage (a brief hiccup past Palm Springs), and I made the familiar drive on the 10-East in the (2nd) STi I bought a month earlier. I wish I remember what I was listening to!

Anyway, I got there about a half-hour early. Not knowing what to do with myself, I opened the back drive-side door and put on my white shirt, which had been hanging for the ride. I walked to the front entrance of the casino, found a restroom to organize my thoughts and nerves and, most importantly, my hair. Then, at probably like, 11:40 AM, I sent a couple text messages and left my phone in my car. Then I went back in.

I met with Jeremy — who was to watch me during the live audition — and he introduced me to the Table Games Director, Ken, who asked me where I was from and how long it took me to get there and so on. I likened it to a Good Cop/Bad Cop effort, with Ken buttering me up while Jeremy was the serious one. Somehow I still found a way to get both of them to like me; I just had to leverage my personality on the one hand, and my performance on the other.

The casino had a different smell to it than I was accustomed to at both the casino I was working at at the time (in Coachella) and the one I gambled at (in San Bernardino); it was subtle, but welcoming. Wearing a plain-white button down with a visitor’s badge, the other dealers couldn’t help but watch me deal while I stuck out like a sore thumb. It piques every dealer’s curiosity to watch other dealers audition. How one handles their cards, and chips, says everything.

So I dealt a few hands of a couple different Blackjack games, a hand of PaiGow, and a couple spins of the Roulette wheel, and my audition was over with. Jeremy pulled me over to the side and asked me a few questions in what was effectively an exit interview. I was nervous, and felt like I stumbled over my words a few times — all the best responses always come right after I need them, unfortunately — but I was nonetheless confident in my overall body of work. As Jeremy and I walked back to return my visitor’s badge, I asked, “So… how did I do?”

He responded, “We’re looking to hire 2-3 dealers, but right now I would say you should be expecting a phone call.”

Right then I knew I was in. That whatever I did, worked. I got back to my car and called Trey to tell him what happened, then Peter — my teacher and mentor — and then my mom, before driving home. It was as excited as I can recall being, for validation more than anything else. Having worked as a dealer for about a year, I always felt like I was pretty good. Getting hired at the new place confirmed it to me.

Jeremy hired me, but left a couple months later. He’s somewhere in New Mexico now. In February, while I was still working graveyard, I met with him for my 45-day evaluation. In it, the first line read: “Eric has exceeded all expectations,” which followed with a bunch of generally positive filler. But that meant a lot to me, and I’ll always remember Jeremy for giving me my first real shot at making solid money.

It’s almost a year later, and the season’s change is serious. So much has happened, and is happening, and I still wonder what kind of progress I’m actually making. I wonder where I will be next Fall.

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