Reflections on My Brief Career at Hollywood Park

Calls from Human Resources are never good. Every time they say they need you to come over right now it means you’ve lost your job. I got this call last Wednesday as I was waiting to clock in. Oh, well; there went that job, propping for Hollywood Park Casino. I can’t say I was particularly nervous walking down to sign job away, (because it was still my second one), and wouldn’t leave me unemployed. In case I needed any more reinforcement that I didn’t need the job, the whole walk down there reminded me of all the things I didn’t like about that casino.

Casinos are inherently bureaucratic organizations: they produce nothing of value and simply take customers’ money. Thus, casino management is virtually always comprised of layer upon layer of bureaucratic departments whose entire purpose is maintaining the status quo. After all, as long as the lights stay on, no drugs are being dealt, and the employees remain relatively civil, why should anything change? The consequence of all bureaucracies is that strange, inconvenient rules seems to work their way into the organization and soon become just another annoying aspect of it. All casinos have these, but I think Hollywood Park’s HR department might deserve honorable mention in terms of its uselessness.

For one thing, you have to get by a security guard just to get to the department. So forget ever strolling there to fill out an application; Security would never let you get to it without an appointment. I remember multiple times telling him that I had business with HR, just for him to look at me, blithely, and ask, “You got an appointment?” Because if someone gets to talk with HR without an appointment, chaos would abound.

Which is another annoying facet of Hollywood Park. Security. You must have your government-issued badge displayed while in employee-only areas at all times. That’s fine for all other employees because, their badge is part of the uniform. House players on the other hand, typically carry it in their wallet. So, every time you go into the area, you have to have it out.

I once made the mistake of putting it away after showing it to the guard at the entrance only to get stopped by yet another one coming down the stairs. Of course, he stopped me and asked to see. And “Jesus,” muttered I, softly, while, again, I dug out my wallet.

And “excuse me,” he challenged.

“I said ‘Jesus’,” I said, unapologetically, while showing him my badge. He’s not a cop, and I’m not begin detained by law enforcement. I also probably make three times what this asshole does an hour. Quit the power trip. I already had to show a badge just to gain access to this hallway; do you really think I snuck in ‘Mission: Impossible’-style, only to be outdone by Deputy Dog? Besides, at some point, shouldn’t Security come to actually know who’s employed there and who isn’t?

And so, I make the overly inconvenient walk back down to HR to sign the paperwork and surrender my oh-so-special badge. “I’m sorry,” I had the nice lady tell me. “It wasn’t anything you did. We just needed to cut costs, and eliminated your position, plus the positions of two other house players. I’m enclosing a letter you can use to file for Unemployment.”

That might be handy – if I were actually unemployed. Seeing as how I’m not – it does nothing. “Can I go ahead and change my address?” I asked. I moved last month, and HR wouldn’t allow me to update it unless I showed them an updated government ID; because, you know, I might give them the wrong one. I have no idea why I would do this – but isn’t it a great idea to have this rule in place, so everything is as inconvenient as possible. Never mind that the California DMV always features a hellish line because of budget cuts. It seems that bureaucracies love to force you to deal with other bureaucracies. Besides, shouldn’t the goal of any HR division be to make it as hard as possible for anyone to actually do anything?

But I digress. Upon reviewing all the paperwork, they presented me with what was supposed to be my final check. Unfortunately, it didn’t include the hours I’d worked for the last two days. HR was mystified because they had thought that they had inactivated my employee ID#, thus preventing me from clocking in. But, bureaucracies and fast action do not got hand in hand. So my number had not been deactivated, and I was only finding out now that I actually been let go a few days ago. Or was supposed to be. So now they owed me more money. Meaning I’d have to brave Security once again (without a badge nor appointment) to get the money they owed me.

So I then returned to face my co-workers and tell them the bad news. Otherwise, my immediate supervisor would not have known that I was not actually working, because no one had told him.

“Are you working?” he asked me.

“Not any more,” I replied.

“Oh,” he paused. “I guess they got you too.”

I guess this is how business in conducted over there. It’s a strange way to do business. I’m not sure if I’m going to be missing the wages. They pay me $30 an hour to play cards, which is nice, but I didn’t often get to play in the games I was particularly good at. At yellow chip NL games, for instance, I’m averaging $25 an hour over the last 200 hours. That’s the other things about being a poker play. Just because you lost your job doesn’t really mean you lost your income.

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