OK, I have to admit it, I’m lousy at following rules and regulations.
During the pandemic lockdown, I refused to stay locked down. Early on, I took a ride to the Las Vegas Strip to take pictures of the empty roads, sidewalks and hotels. To see the chains on the doors of casinos that were never meant to be closed was eerie. I live near the desert so every day, the dog and I took long walks with no mask on either of us.
Yes, I wore a mask when inside any stores or businesses, and I tried to stay 6 feet away from anyone I encountered. I tried to carry on business as usual by going to the office most every day (only my wife and I were in there, so it wasn’t like we were exposing anyone else). But yes, I got Covid, as did my entire family. Luckily they were very mild cases and we all recovered quickly. (Not to minimize anyone who lost loved ones or who suffered extreme cases.) No doubt the consequence of failing to follow procedures.
But my resistance to rules goes way back. I went to a Catholic high school that required shirts and ties on all students. Well, my shirts were either bright yellow or purple and my ties were pretty wild, as well.
When I became a dealer in Atlantic City, I learned all the processes and procedures and promptly broke most of them, even though for the most part I was an excellent dealer.
As a blackjack dealer, I had to entertain myself because in those days speaking to the players was frowned upon. I was pretty good with handling chips, so I’d wait for specific situations where I could make moves that would impress the players—and drive the supervisors crazy. For example, if I had two winners in a row, one with a $20 bet (four red chips) and the next one a $5 bet (one red chip), I’d take a green $25 chip from the rack, slide it into the $20 stack, knocking the bottom chip out of the pile, sliding that chip over to the next spot. I’d paid two bets with one move. I thought it was slick but the supervisor just shook his head.
As a baccarat dealer, we used the big tables, now rarely seen, with seven spots on each side and three dealers handling the game. As the “stick” dealer, you were supposed to slide the players’ cards to the high bet on the table, where he or she would squeeze the cards and return them to the stick dealer. Now, I was something of a showman on stick, and I’d sail the cards high into the air so they’d drop directly in front of the hands of the high bettor. Again, the players loved it but more than once I’d hear the pit boss scream “Cards on the table, Gros!!” And still I wondered why I never got promoted!
Of course, later I learned how important procedures were. I’ve recognized that everyone needs to do something the exact same way or the “eye in the sky” will not recognize the move and the supervisors won’t get distracted by my wild style of dealing. I’ve also learned that the casino isn’t the only department with processes and procedures. Housekeepers are directed to clean rooms in a certain manner to make sure that all the rooms and suites look the same for the guests and take the same time to clean. Waiters and waitresses are taught to take and deliver orders in the same manner, whether it’s in the individual restaurants or the massive public functions that have food service.
With the arrival of Covid and the need to make guests feel safe and secure, there are many additional procedures. We’ve erected Plexiglas dividers that need to be cleaned frequently. Gaming surfaces must be wiped down between players. Masks must be worn properly by both customers and employees. This sometimes puts employees in the uncomfortable position of asking guests to comply, so procedures must be worked out to explain that in a non-confrontational manner.
So the emphasis on procedures has increased substantially over the last year. My dealing years are long gone, as is hopefully my style of dealing. But employees—or team members—can still bring courtesy and assistance to guests in a friendly and respectful way so that the hospitality that we provide to our customers shines through.
And employers have to value their workers and respect their positions. Remember, front-line employees give the first and last impressions of the property to every guest, so companies that recognize that fact and reward their employees for jobs well done will find that their well-thought-out and considerate procedures are the way to the hearts of both their employees and their guests.