The Drop, Part One.




It is 2:00 am. I walk under Topsy’s crotch into Circus Circus. God, I hate clowns. I am a part of a specialized group of young men; if everyone shows up there will be 10 of us. I am hopeful. I am the newly promoted Hard Count Supervisor. My job is the collection, count, wrapping, verifying, and disbursement of all coin monies used in the operation of Circus Circus Casino Hotel. This is the coin from 1400+ slot machines, and all the Vending machines in the hotel. Other duties include the scheduling of a full 14 man crew— no offense to the women, but girls never applied—on a seven day week. I was also responsible for the initial interviewing, training, scheduling, annual evaluations; not that many lasted an annual, and reprimanding rulebreakers.  I actually had the privledge of flat out firing. Once.

Three months earlier I was a Drop Crew Member making about two hundred a week, for breaking my back, using muscles I didn’t know I had. JP, the previous Hard Count Supervisor is in jail, he won’t be back.

Bob Madera is the Slot Manager, my brother Dennis is a Slot Shift Supervisor, he told me about the job, but had no influence on my promotion, I think, well I never asked and he never offered. My sole hold card in getting the job was that I had been there three months, two months longer than the next guy in the crew.

I am called to Bob’s office for an interview, he’s sober, but maybe a tad hungover.

“Do you think you can handle it”

“Well I can try.”

Interview over.

The next day I begin the first day of my $150.00 a freaking week raise. I am stoked. I take the crew to the bar after shift and buy a round. There is a young, beautiful, Filipino cocktail waitress. After the third round the cocktail waitress delivers another round, and for reasons I have yet to reason she bends over and gives me a quite lengthy kiss, and walks off. I am baffled, was that a perk of the promotion, the rest of the crew is impressed. I never ran into the waitress again during the seven years I worked there.

Not many people know what the Drop was, it doesn’t happen anymore. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what the Drop was until the first day I performed one. Mind you I had lived in Reno for over twenty years by then.

Casino drops were not an operation the clubs wanted to be known. They were only done in the dead of night, under guard, by young men in prison-like overalls with no pockets. The first chore for a Drop crew member at Circus was to place a gray plastic buckets in front of all 1400 slot machines.

During this time I was in the coin room/vault, behind an unmarked door next to the main cage. It is still there, I’ve thought about asking about it. I am counting the many steels cans full of wrapped coins, blue paper and cans for nickles, green for dimes, orange for quarters, we rarely see any half dollars. I count the five high stacks of Tripp Plastic token racks, each holding a hundred tokens. In the vault are about 50 burlap bags, each holding $1000.00 of tokens, each is sealed with a nylon cord and a lead seal. I count the money and balance it out with the cashier who counts with me.

I spend the remaining time starting the coin wrappers and the scale, and put on a pot of coffee, we had a two burner.

We are lucky, there are seven of us and it is Wednesday, it will be a light drop so we should be done in about 14 hours. They get overtime; I don’t and I am beginning question my raise.

My next chore is to check out the drop keys, two keys on long thin chains, and notify security that we are ready to begin the drop. These two keys opened a door under each and every slot machine in the casino, if you lost one, you rarely kept your job, I lost two but managed to stay. If you lost one of these keys, you pissed off your boss, but also every slot mechanic in the club; who now had to replace 1400+ locks.

I follow the crew for a few minutes. We have pulled a 4’x5′ three sided cart from the coin room, and guide it in front of the first two banks of nickle slots. The two men with keys now begin.

They bend down between the stools of the slot machines and unlock a door. Inside the cabinet are two gray buckets, a spout over them feeds them the overflow coin from the machine. The dropist is to grab a small colored ticket with the machine id number on it, put it inside the bucket, remove the bucket and replace it with an empty one, and then LOCK the door. He continues along the bank until all the machines are empty and then pick up all the full buckets. 1400+ times.

The cart is getting heavy, it is time for me to go back to the coin room. The Cashier tells me that the change booths are getting low on tokens. I send my second in command; he’s been here a month, to go collect all the empty red token racks.


It is time to post I guess, 3:12 am.


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