Rob Abrazado (flatvurm) wrote,
Rob Abrazado

Jitney adventures

A couple items from my ride into work today on the friendly neighborhood jitney.

First off, early on, a woman got on board and handed the driver a big bill, like a 20 or something (the fare is $2). So she went to sit down while he got the change in order to give back to her. This is a pretty common procedure. Later on, when the change was ready, the driver handed it back. The dude seated behind the driver grabbed the change, and then that dude passed it on to the lady who was the rightful recipient. This is also pretty standard procedure. What was funny, though, was that as soon as that happened, I had the dude who passed the money pegged as a casino dealer. As soon as the woman took her money back, the guy flipped his hand over, palm up, and gave it a half-shake or two, fingers splayed out.

This is a move known in the industry as "clearing your hands," and it's something casino workers do after handling money or chips, or when you'll be moving your hand off the table, say, or into your pocket, or in some way out of camera view. The move is intended to show Surveillance that you've got nothing palmed when you're taking part in a transaction. The thing is, you make this move so often during your day that, for a lot of people, it just becomes a nervous habit after a while. Not only do you start clearing your hands for no apparent reason, but you also start doing it outside of work. I've heard players call it "Dealer Tourette's." On a visit to A.C. and after watching me work, drdelirium and jammie718 called it my "Jazz Hands." Anyway, it was just funny to see it happen. Just one of those things y'all can look for if you're ever running around trying to spot casino employees. I, myself, remember catching myself doing it at the grocery store after replacing a tomato I was inspecting for purchase. I've also done it returning fallen cutlery to the dinner table. One of my dealing teachers back in dealer school told us he did it buying food for his mom one time; he cleared his hand before going into his pocket for his wallet. Just one of those things, man. (And for the record, it's also a great way to spot dealers who are playing during their time off. As ingrained as the habit gets into you, it's doubly hard to shake it when you're actually sitting at the tables.)

Anyway. Much later on, a guy got on the jitney who looked like he'd fallen on some hard times. He was lugging a lot of stuff around with him, and when he finally got all his baggage stowed and was ready to take a seat, he tried to pay the driver the fare in casino chips. :) This, as far as I've seen, is not a common procedure. :) The driver said he couldn't take them. The guy responded, "That's all I have." Ouch, man. That's a sad state of affairs. I'd happily cash the things in for him, though, so my hand was already reaching for my money when the passenger turned around and asked if anyone could buy the chips from him. I did so, and the guy paid his fare and we took off. I was amused to find that they were chips from Caesar's, while we were picking the guy up at Harrah's. I mean...I don't know. I guess it's hard to explain, but just how bad are you running when you don't have enough cash on you to pay a $2 jitney fare, and you can only buy your way on using casino chips from a place that isn't even where you just were. To me, that can only speak of Bad Times.

Anyway, it occurred to me later that I missed a prime profit-making opportunity there. See, I mentioned it's a $2 fare to ride the jitney, but for locals who take it all the damn time, you can buy tickets in bulk instead of thumbing cash all the time, and if you buy bulk tickets they actually come out to $1.75. So what I should have done was sell the guy a jitney ride for his chips, given him a ticket instead of cash, and then I net me a tidy 25 cents of profit, thereby turning someone else's situation of misfortune into a shiny extra quarter in my pocket. Wasn't fast enough on my feet, though. Oh, and learn. Next time someone wants to try to barter their way on to the jitney, I'll be ready.

Two footnotes to that casino chip story, too. One, after the whole matter had been settled and it didn't really matter any more, the driver went on to try to explain himself to the guy. He said, "It's my religion, man. I'm not allowed to go into the casino, so I can't take the chips." Now...I don't know if he was on the level or not, but that's some hardcore shit right there. Plus, if that is the case, how does a guy with a religion like that end up working in Atlantic City? Or even coming to Atlantic City? That's just bizarre.

The other thing is...the whole episode got me to thinking about currency and barter and stuff. You don't see a lot of casino chips changing hands outside the casinos, but there's really no reason why you shouldn't, even among locals. I hear that kind of thing goes on in Vegas a lot more commonly, but it would be interesting to see what kind of effects it would have if businesses started taking casino chips as tender. It's not really like a separate economy...the exchange of U.S. dollars for chips and vice-versa is a well-regulated and closely monitored activity. (Believe me.) It would just be interesting to see if there were any effects of tying up actual currency while branded, plastic tokens were being moved around instead. I can't really see it having an effect, frankly. But what's funny is...the more chips are taken out of the casinos and moved around in the general populace, the more likely some of those chips never make it back to the casino. If they get lost or broken or whatever, the casino just basically ends up making a profit off the deal (assuming the chip cost less to replace than its face value for redemption, which is virtually a certainty.) Yet another way the casinos could make money by doing nothing. I wonder why they're not pushing for a chip-based currency right now. ;)
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