Bet on it: It’s all in a day’s work at casinos, sportsbooks

LAS VEGAS — Weekends, according to Benny, can be appalling, 4-to-midnight shifts Friday and Saturday. He preps for the despicable but tries to divorce himself from whatever awaits him around the corner.

It’s here basic human decency and decorum disappear.

“I try to put it out of my mind,” he said, “and do a good job.”

As a janitor, Benny services the gents’ room of a sportsbook inside a popular property. I’ll spare his and the casino’s real names. Consider him to be any male custodian in any book.

The worst gig in Vegas.

THE SPOTLIGHT

Mike Rowe, the former Baltimore Opera baritone, knows about dirty jobs. His popular show by that name ran for 300 episodes on Discovery Channel.

He hoped to shine the light, he told a magazine in 2020, on somebody who’s out of sight and out of mind, to remind the country that they’re there and connected to us.

He added, “We’re disconnected to who those people are. I don’t think we really have a genuine appreciation for the world we’d be in if not for them.”

If not for people like Denise, an Alabama mother and middle-school custodian who appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“I look at the school as my house,” Denise said. “So I want to keep the school clean, like I clean my house.”

In Chicago, Roy Schmidt dumped cans into garbage trucks. The older the person on the street, the less respect he received.

“They’re just too stupid to realize the necessity of the job,” he told Studs Terkel. Schmidt toiled 9-to-5 in an office but relished being outside, doing something “meaningful to society.”

Terkel, the famous Chicago radio personality who died at 96 in 2008, produced a seminal tome, “Working,” in 1974 that documented scores of people, what they did and how they felt about their vocations.

Louis Hayward attended a washroom at the historic Palmer House and saw plenty of patrons skip the sink:

“I laugh at them inside. I don’t carry my feeling of menial work quite that deeply that it hurts me. I’m completely hardened now. I just take it in stride.”

Eric Hoellen served an apartment complex as its janitor:

“Talk about heart condition, the janitor’s got one of the worst. You just don’t let it get the best of you. Since I’ve been out here, three [hanged] themselves. They let it get the best of ’em.”

DISGUSTING

Many sportsbook visitors hardly treat the venue like home. They leave floor cubicles a mess of odds sheets and other papers, stubby pencils, half-full glasses and empty beer bottles, often with its small TV set on.

Do they leave home with the flat screen on?

In the gents, full rolls in the toilet are common, as is matter on those paper squares on the floor. Benny’s always fishing junk out of the urinals, mopping those floors frequently.

(I use my remedial Spanish. Benny once called me “Professor” — my spectacles. No, I laughed. Escritor deportivo. We chatted about his native Cuba, in his tongue.)

Ann, a server (not her name), winced at the worst of those scenes I’ve witnessed, unfit for a family paper. Nothing comes close, she says, in the women’s room, where occasionally a product isn’t disposed of properly.

Once, a grungy-looking dude at the far urinal leaned forward, forehead against the wall tiles, eyes closed, growling about returning to the clink for committing an imminent murder.

I exited quickly.

Eleven days ago, a short, pear-shaped man with a crew cut stood to the right of the room’s entryway, mumbling into a mobile phone. His light-blue dress shirt was completely unbuttoned, mammoth pale belly the canvas for a large swastika.

A minute later, he hadn’t budged. Another quick exit. It’s wise to patronize the much-larger lavatories, no matter the extra steps; consider it exercise.

The anomaly was the guy who recently yanked both long sleeves beyond his elbows to scrub both wings, repeatedly, as if he were about to perform meatball surgery next to Trapper and Hawkeye.

MAKE HIS DAY

The point?

Football is in full swing. Visitors are swarming into Vegas, Philly, Biloxi and Alton, Aurora, Des Plaines and Joliet.

First, ? la John Wooden, always leave a place better than you found it.

And when appropriate, fold a fin or tenner in half, halve it again. Slip it between the fingers. Offer Benny the money hand, leaving the bill with him.

He deserves such recognition. His day will be made.

To an efficient casino floor sweeper Sunday in Atlantic City, Bill Krackomberger slipped a 20. He often over-tips, knowing how many are gratuity-averse.

A Vegas-based pro sports bettor, Krack Man’s beneficence isn’t blind. Someone deserving, however, always catches his attention.

When a 19-year-old John Murges made book for The Outfit in Chicago, he and colleague Spiro left the loo. Spiro slipped the attendant a 20; John kept walking.

Spiro asked John about his tight fists, and Murges said he thought that 20 covered both of them.

“That was from me to him,” Spiro said. “That poor guy works in a bathroom for a living. You always tip those guys.”

For nearly 40 years, Murges, a Florida-based sports bettor, has rewarded Bennies with a little something.

Just remember to wash those hands before folding that bill and passing it along.

What is this, a zoo?

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.