Last night I was sitting at big round table surrounded by a few of my friends and former team members from Northern Quest Resort and Casino discussing my life and career there these past 20 years. Yesterday was my last day there, having decided prior to moving down to our new adventures in Southern Idaho to retire and pursue my writing ambition full time.
Tina Marie asked me about my funniest moment I had at the casino and I told her of an incident with Nick, who is no longer with us and the time a fellow team member, Carmelita played a trick on him. She is all of five foot and full of piss and vinegar but can be very sweet which is more than a little confusing for most men who had the pleasure of coming into contact with her.
She asked me to play along and I did. She placed herself inside this bath tissue box which she easily fit herself into and told me to call Nick to the supply room using our portable Motorola. He responded that he was on his way and I placed the lid shut over her.
A moment later, he shows up and I told him I needed help lifting the box there up on the shelf beside me. So here’s Nick getting ready to squat down and grab the box when Carmelita popped out from the box scaring poor Nick nearly to death. I think he jumped three feet into the air and screamed out an expletive that was certainly heard through the hallway in back of house.
We all laughed at this and of course I was on a roll and recounted another antidote involving poor Nick. Needless to say, I enjoyed the people I worked with and worked for for the most part since I took my first class at Dealers’ school in a closed-up bank building in Airway Heights while the casino was still under construction in 2000.
The friendship, the comradery and esprit de corps I experienced there was genuine among those who saw me and treated me with kindness and respect. Like I told Jerry, another former team member “I can safely count on my hand the number of people who didn’t like me and I could care less about them.”
“Five?” He asked.
“You got it,” I replied. “Those five never liked most people and perhaps because of that they no longer worked here anyway. That was five out of over a thousand that came and left or came and haven’t left just yet. So when they held the retirement party for me it was a party with over 100 team members by my reconning coming in and shaking my hands, offering me teary eyed hugs and fond farewells. Most every department was represented and then after I clocked out for the last time, went to the Epic Sports lounge without my badge for the first time in 20 years, sat down and waited for more former team members and friends to come.
There is a lot to reflect upon and I guess the remarks I made in the exit interview, which is actually a survey done on a computer, before retiring to my parties points out more than anything. I admired and respected most people who work there, especially the ones in the Housekeeping and Food and Beverage Departments who have to work extra-hard to make this place the resort it is today.
The culture this business represents I do not care for and some of the people who graced our corridors and slot machines and pits I don’t have any use for either. Most of the guests that come in are good people who want a little entertainment and are happy to spend it. The bad apples are only here to cause trouble. I’ve caught them in rest rooms doing their drugs, mostly with stolen needles from our sharpies containers. I’ve seen them yell and scream at each other or starting fights with one another, and I’ve seen them take advantage of our core value of “Everyone is Welcomed here,” by vandalizing our casino and hotel costing us thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement.
I don’t know if it is a normal trait of these people who are mostly poor, who are believing they must gamble to somehow get ahead in life, but obviously can’t because they just blew what money they had for rent on a slot machine or Black Jack table. Or is it because we are in such close proximity to Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake that these people who are mentally incapable understanding basic principles of social responsibility are thrown into this environment where they act out or react the way they do.
Another thing I noticed these past 20 years is how some people treated me personally, especially following my stroke. You see I had my stroke after being hired by Northern Quest in 2002. Those five people I mentioned earlier came out of the wood work in spades. It was eye opening to say the least. One even suggested I should go home and turn in my badge because obviously this wasn’t the right job for me anymore. He was a housekeeping supervisor named George. There were others like him who seemingly tolerated me like a horse tolerated flies. I was a nuisance and really didn’t belong here because I was doubly disabled from the cleft pallet and speech impediment and now this stroke that made me in their eyes either an invalid or an eyesore they had to be forced to look at each and every day.
It was this backdrop, this culture of arrogance and condescending attitude toward me that I experienced this entire time and I’m sure was why I wasn’t considered for any positions more suited to my knowledge, education, and other-worldly experience I had prior to coming here. One even told my wife, “His only experience is housekeeping and should be happy with that.”
Another told me as I was searching the job board for a better position, “Oh Jerry we don’t want you to do anything other than what you are doing now.”
I have a college degree; I went to a post graduate course in professional writing and have a certificate for that. I have leadership experience through the Army National Guard where I served 22 years. Yet, I wasn’t suitable for those positions I applied for other than housekeeping.
But now I am seeing the high-rise hotel in the rearview mirror its lights reflecting nicely in the ever-increasing darkness as the remain dim rays from the sun disappear in the western horizon. It was a 20-year quest. It was fun most of the time. It was what shaped me into the person I became.
To all my friends, former team members and present team members adios, au voir, auf wiedersehen, good night.