FIRED BY THE MAFIA
Back at the casino I got to see the greedy slot players rush the machines at 10 o'clock on Sunday mornings when the doors opened and meet players such as Tiny.
Tiny weighed almost four hundred pounds. It was told to me that he was a hit man and (I think) a pilot for the mob. They said he had been shot three or four times by a .357 and it could not drop him. Al Alvalino used to think he was cute each time he would tell me he was going to put me on Tiny's game if I didn't behave myself. Al could never stop being a ball buster. But for all the shit I caught from Tiny, I stood up to him and he respected me for that.
I got to hear more things about the business as well. Some were about the dice. One supervisor said that people loaded the dice with a type of undetectable gas. If that wasnít enough to make me think, they would send a player to the game to tell me to push the button to make him win. "Come on Louie," they would say, "do it just like they taught you in the basement." Then the Floorperson would say I was never down there and the player would respond, "What's the matter, Louie? Don't you want to learn how to do it?" I would smile and ignore him and they would usually let it drop. God, I hated what those people were doing to me there.
After giving up on Lisa, my first true love, and realizing that my life could very well be in danger, my spirit became broken. I got depressed one day on when I was getting my chops busted by Robert, the short European looking supervisor.
I was on third base on a game facing pit 5b. I looked down at him and asked, "Why are you giving me a hard time here? We're all in the same boat together."
"I don't know what boat you're in pal," he started to say with his squeaky voice, "but itís not the same boat I'm riding in."
My statement was only to point out that we each had suck-ass jobs. After his comment we got into a debate about what made a person the way they are. I stated that people imitate their atmosphere and were a product of their environment. He disagreed with me and said that people acted the way they do for economic survival. I still believe that a person makes his decisions based on everything they have experienced and concluded about life, if they have not looked within.
If Robert made a decision to become a scumbag it was obviously because everything he had gathered about life indicated to him that it was OK to do so. He had the freedom of choice to be just as strong as I was and not get involved. Did he really need all that money to survive? I don't think so. He just never looked within.
A couple of years into my employment with Bally's I started showing some of my frustrations about the business on a game being floored by Steve O'Leary. He looked over at me with penetrating eyes and yelled, "What is the problem with you? Show a little pride in your work. Aren't you proud of your job?"
I looked over at him and with a disgusted look and voice said, "That is the difference between you and me, I'm not proud of what I do for a living." His face turned red as he gave me both a look of anger and of bewilderment.
From that day on my days at Bally's Park Place were numbered. But I didn't care. I expressed my true opinion and possibly got O'Leary to do some soul searching. Although, judging from the way he continued to treat me, I doubt it worked.
The summer of 1986 was probably one of the best times I had in my sorry life. I had, by then, been totally stripped of my Christian ideals and was starting to conform to the business more than ever. That summer was also a non-stop party I thought was never going to end.
Leif had, in the meantime, become a blackjack dealer. Both the Sands and Bally's Park Place had sent out scouts to the school in search of people whose lives they could ruin. Some of our friends went to Bally's, but Leif was hired at the Sand's Hotel/Casino and Country Club (what a name). I tried to talk him out of it but he wasn't buying. He saw the money I was making and he wanted some.
"Dude, don't be a dealer, it sucks."
"It can't be any worse than what I'm doing now."
"I'm telling you, it is. All you're going to do is ruin your life and end up a drop out like me."
"Dude, I'm not going to drop out of school. I want to be a Marine Biologist one day. I'm not going to give that up. Besides, I'm getting sick of slot players. They're the worst. They are so greedy--always fighting each other for the machines--always running up to me and pulling on my vest going 'change, change'. Or sometimes they won't even leave the machine and they just whine until I get there. I'm telling you dude, itís getting to me."
I would keep trying, "You think they are greedy? Man, at least you can walk away from them when you're on the floor. If you deal blackjack you will have to stand there and eat their smoke and listen to them bitch and complain all day. You can't walk away from them."
"I don't care. The money is much better and the Sands is going to pay for my upgrade and for the school and take fifty dollars out of my paycheck every week. Don't worry dad, I'll be fine."
Leif turned out just as I predicted. He dropped out of school that following semester and almost ruined his life that summer when he got too caught up in the life style. It was no surprise to me.
That summer a guy who was hired by Bally's, Randy, and his roommate, Jeff, moved into the building next door. Leif was working swing and so was Randy. Randy's roommate Jeff did not work, so the three of them saw a lot of each other. There was one thing, however, that Jeff did to survive; he sold cocaine.
With Leif's first paycheck he found himself making more money than his father. I think that might have been how he measured success. He had much money and started pissing it away. One of his favorite items to buy was coke.
I hated coke and only did it seldom when I couldn't find pot. I had quit for good at the beginning of this summer, but by August, Leif was spending most of his paycheck on the stuff. It got to the point where he was falling behind with his rent. He managed to pay that, but what he could not manage was his personality. He had become another person--the total asshole that people who do that drug become. He started making unintelligent decisions, another of which was a car he obtained.
There was another dealer at Bally's who I became friends with that summer. We had been hired together but he was on swing shift. When he came to days we started hanging together. He was the same age as Big Lew, who was now living with us, and I, and he also drove a bike as we did. The three of us would cruise together. He was also a con artist and got Leif to take over a lease on a one year old Volkswagen Jetta for over $300 a month.
I told Leif he was crazy, but would not listen to me. He saw me with a new car and he felt a need to keep up. (There was that competition thing again.) I would argue, "You have a car that is paid for, why don't you save your money so you can go to school." He had loans from the previous semesters, but rather than paying them off he decided to go for the flash.
For some reason it did not make any difference what I said. I did it--so how could I talk. But that was my point and I didn't want to see him end up like me. I loved him like a brother and wanted better for him, but he did it anyway. Leif's life-style caught up with him and he fell into a rut. I finally had to step in.
Leif was becoming too much to put up with. All he wanted was that wicked drug. One day I put my foot down. When he was out doing lines with his friends I began throwing his stuff out the front door. I got most of it out too. When he got back he found his things on the front yard and that I had taken his house key off his key ring before he went out. The result was a rude awakening that worked.
Leif got off the drug before it killed him, but the awakening could not prevent the fall caused by the casino atmosphere. So much was spent on cocaine and other toys that his bills became too much for him to handle once school had started. The result was his dropping out to pick up more days of work. (If people could only learn from my mistakes!)
Around March or April of 1987, the blackjack dealers who were hired in 1982 from Stockton started getting fired one by one. The word was out and they were gunning for our little clique (none of which would conform). I remember the day Mike, from Stockton, got canned.
I was sitting in the cafeteria when he walked in and shook my hand while saying how great it had been working with me but that he had just been fired. His roommate had gotten the ax not too far back. Mike's story was interesting. He was standing on a dead game when a couple walked up and sat at opposite ends of the table. Mike thought it a perfect time for a joke and said while laughing, "What, are you two divorced?" The couple complained to management and he was fired for that. He thought he was set up. It took a couple of months and a few incidents to lead up to that day. With me it took almost a year.
The first incident happened one day in pit 4a. I was dealing on a game with a player who was betting $500 on every number. Each bet he made after the come out roll was $2750 across. On or about the sixth time I didn't repeat the bet loud enough. It was at that point I was getting bored. I had been dealing a couple of years and knew what I was doing. The Box asked me what the bet was. I thought he was kidding. I looked down at him and said, "Twenty-seven, fifty across. Come on, what did you think it was?"
Bobby Tingle was standing Floor. By this time his patience was running thin with me after unsuccessfully trying everything to get me to turn their way. But I could not be bought or sold. He leaned over at me and asked in and angry voice, "What did you say?" I repeated myself. I didn't do anything wrong. He exploded, "Did you say something derogatory to your Boxman? You said something derogatory to your supervisor. That's it, I'm writing you up for that." And he did. I had no idea he hated me until this happened.
I received a disorderly conduct for that and they called it insubordination. If I were to get another within a year I would be suspended. Not six months later I got another one.
It was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in pit 4b and this time Eddie Course was standing Floor. I was the relief dealer. At twenty minutes past 2 pm. I arrived at the game from my first break. Eddie was standing on the side by the ropes. Before I could even tap in on stick, he called me over.
Eddie put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Now I know you're going to come up from your breaks on time to get my man out." His man was some new dealer who was also black. Eddie seemed very prejudice against whites.
I was not late and I had no feelings of animosity, so I just smiled and did the same thing with my hand to his shoulder as I said, "Ah, come on now Eddie, you don't have to tell me that."
Eddie went off. "I don't have to tell you! I don't have to tell you! Don't tell me what I don't have to tell you! Who do you think you are? You just get on the stick right now!"
He mumbled that over and over to himself and to the Box and told the Pitboss what just happened. Then he decided he was going to write me up for it. After a while I was ordered to report to the Shiftboss' office.
The Shiftboss told me to sit down, showed me a long paper, and mentioned the incident with Bobby Tingle. He said this was my second time I was being written up for insubordination and for that I was being suspended for one week without pay. He made me sign the paper, took my badge, and had a security guard escort me out of the building. All they needed to do was make up one more reason and they could fire me.
Pit 4a was the scene for that. It was the end of April 1987. Again it was either a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. This time the Floor was that short little ass named Steve Merlino (the same name as Chuckie Merlino, one of Scarfo's scum bags). They called him crater face (on account of his acne), but not to it. I was on break telling another dealer what a great day I was having. I told him that it must have been the best day of my three-year career. The game was jammin' and I was jammin' along with it. The next hour I was in base dealing to a heavy crowd when Steve started telling me to watch my layout.
I could not understand what he was talking about. The game was moving so fast I never had the chance to look up. He said it again and again for a reason unknown to me. After repeating it to himself a few times he said, "That's it, I had to tell you three times, now I'm going to the Pitboss."
The Pitboss was Mike May. He had recently gotten promoted. (Remember what I told you about how to get a promotion.) That crony told me I had to be told three times by my Floorman to watch the layout when I was casino gazing. Since I did not respond to Merlino's instructions I was being insubordinate and for that he was writing me up. (It was probably his first write-up as a Pitboss.) When I told him Steve was wrong and I could get fired for that write-up he said not to worry, that they wouldn't fire me for that. He lied. One or two hours later I was out the door for good.
I wanted to kill every one of those ass-kissing gangsters. If I had a handgun at the time I just might have. When I tried to collect unemployment they wouldn't give it because they claimed it was my own fault I was fired. I did not feel like fighting the mob, so I let it drop at that.
I learned many things at Bally's Park Place. I saw huge amounts of money being dumped out of paper bags onto craps tables, I saw and learned all about the Mafia, and most importantly, I learned never to trust anyone who worked in that business--no matter who they were. They all lied, cheated, and stole.