The casino business is a strange one. And I don’t mean for the usual reasons that you might suspect. And I probably don’t mean just the casino business, but any business that involves people. The casino business just happens to be the one I work in.
When a new casino opens somewhere, there’s a great deal of excitement, and not least because of the jobs that generates. After all, who doesn’t want to work in the exciting, loud, brightly lit neon and LED, disturbing carpet environment of the casino?
It attracts a lot of different people to those jobs. My experience is in the tables side of things. We hire dealers for blackjack, roulette, baccarat and a variety of one-off poker variants that sometimes hang around for a few months and sometimes for a few decades. When you open a new casino, you do that hiring all at once, and you get a a wonderful cross-section of local society. When you do it in smaller batches, you get a similar cross-section, but it takes longer to build up.
In a small city in southeastern Ontario, that population is predominately white, though not exclusively. You get an age range from someone who turned 20 not long before training began right up through someone in their 60s, after their primary career, and looking for retirement job.
Most of them are having a great time, most of them are very keen to do well, and some of them even have the idea that they would like to advance, an opportunity which might happen fairly quickly in a new casino. Lots of stuff going on, so who knows, right?
You also have the issue of the normal societal blind spots that rear their heads whenever you have a real cross-section. You get the handful of people who don’t understand just how busy casino will initially be, that for the first few weeks, even if you’re part-time, you’re going to be getting full-time hours, just to cover things and figure out what we really need. After the initial rush, and once there’s time to do a second hiring and training course, that will slow down.
The casino business does tend to skew young, though not exclusively. I look at the managers in the department, at 46 I’m the oldest, though only by one day. Supervisors from early 40s down to early 20s, and a broad range of experience. This can make it difficult sometimes for people on a second or third career. Sometimes it’s hard to take instruction or direction, from someone half or a third of your age.
And there are certainly people who have listened to society over the last couple of decades as they’ve been told that only they matter. You don’t need a new business to see this, or even new employees. There are always requests for special treatment, special circumstances, or special schedules. And, at any age, there can be a self-centeredness, that no matter what else is going around, my throat problem is the most important one that you have to deal with right now.
Yes, these are issues with individuals, but they are also societal problems. It’s behavior this learned, and reinforced. I can only push so much with each person, and I try to be gentle, because I genuinely like almost everyone I’ve ever worked with, so I can see them as individuals. I try to be gentle, without trying to come across as a father figure. I’m old enough that we have quite a few staff members whom I’m certainly old enough to have been their father. But my current position lends me a little authority, and practice as a parent has given me a few verbal and mental tools to back that up, so I very rarely have to actually control my emotional response.
When I consider things from a personal perspective, I think of conflict as mostly stupid and useless, a waste of time for both parties. Discussion is always my preference. I’m generally happy to explain the why of something as well as the what. But as a manager, you don’t always have that luxury. Sometimes, instructions have to be followed, and you just need to do it. Come talk to me later and we’ll take all the time you need to understand, but right now just follow instructions.
That doesn’t mesh well with a personality that requires special treatment, or has difficulty following instructions, or that has a hard time taking instructions from someone much younger than they. And while don’t mind a challenge, or even being challenged, I don’t like being challenged just because you think you’re entitled to special treatment.
And I guess that’s what things come down to. The whole idea of entitlement. Maybe I’m a little old fashioned in some respects, but you’re entitled to very little just for existing. There are basic rights and privileges and obligations, but beyond those, anything you’re entitled to, you have to earn. You’re absolutely special. You’re absolutely unique. The universe has produced only one of you. Let’s talk, but you don’t get to demand anything, and you don’t get to dictate my duties because you think you’re entitled to special treatment.
This isn’t a thing you only find when you’re opening a new operation, but I seem to be more sensitive to it because there’s so much going on to get things up and running.
I want to listen, and I want to help, and I want to make things better and easier for both of us. That’s not always easy, and sometimes it’s not even possible, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying. Demands make things harder for both of us, though.
Be well, everyone.by