San Antonio Notes: The Broker’s Business World
On my flight to Vegas, I met a man who sells slot machines. He’s quite a success; he went from being a hobby to having ten or so in his home to having his own warehouse and his own trucking company. The trucking company is appropriate, you know, as he was a trucker before he did the slot machine thing.
He’s still fascinated by slot machines even though he knows exactly how they work. He’ll tell you the secrets he’s learned by gutting one and studying it himself, but it’ll cost you $100. Yet somehow I get the impression he told me the majority of how it works just for sitting next to him on the plane. He’s in Vegas often, and he’s picked up golf as he wined and dined with these ten or so casino brokers that he has a personal relationship with, there in Vegas.
Apparently, each casino has several brokers who handle their slot machines. The machines are traded out for more reasons than maintenance issues: stuff like popularity, changing floor plans, cleanliness, and a new selection play in here. And they don’t trade them out by ones and twos either; casinos sell the machines by dozens or by tens and twenties.
And of course, Bill also sells to individual Texans who just want one slot machine in their home. His wife, for instance, loves to play the slots as well. She just doesn’t like flying. And Bill’s hair is getting grey; what he really wants is to hand the business over to his son, but I can see why Bill’s son would be reluctant.
After all, it would mean inheriting these relationships with these brokers and memorizing how many different kinds of slot machines there are. Maybe Bill’s son is a theatre geek like me, or a bookworm who only loves that old smell of a classic that’s sat on the shelves, savoring that scent.
Still, talking about slot machine brokers reminded me of a co-worker named Cory who worked with both Just’In and I. We were swapping stories of our first jobs, and Cory’s dad is a dirt broker. Yes, the common dirt from the ground. What do you do if you have a big hole in the ground and you need dirt to fill it? Or, better yet, if you’ve dug a hole but need the dirt to be taken away so you can use the land under the pile?
Of course you call this guy, and if the guy is lucky enough, he’ll have both cases– someone who needs dirt and someone who’s already got it. All the dirt broker’s gotta do is hire a bunch of guys to drive dump trucks and go in a circle between the two ends. The truck guys get paid for how many laps they do, but someone’s got to count how many laps they make. That was Cory’s job. Can’t you imagine the umbrella, the purple drink with a straw, the thatched hat?
Ah, but he said the trickiest part was the truck guys’ tempers. You see, Cory was also hired not only to count laps, but to make sure each truck was there for each lap. If one of these burly men wants lunch or wants to go see his pregnant wife, all he has to do is slip off at one of the two dirt sites. When he’s done making his wife a broccoli salad, all he has to do is slip into his original place, behind the truck with the blue bumper and in front of the truck with the extra headlight. If Cory did his job right, broccoli salad dude would get ousted the pay for those missing seven laps.
So there you go: the unknown connection between slot machines and dirt.