Most people who have known me, have always assumed I was great at being a teller because of my family`s background in horse racing. Truth be told, I was the first member of my family to work on the front side of a race track. So being a good mutuel teller was something I would have to become myself, since my family knew nothing of that kind of job.
When I first started in mutuels, there was no such thing as OTB or simulcasting. You bet on races for that track only. Which worked out perfect for me, I could sometimes get a ride to work from my dad if i didn`t have college that day. My first day(actually day and a half) I rode in with dad, and he told me “Dude, go talk to this guy in mutuels he will show you what it is about. After the races are over we will go out and eat” So off I went for my “training/watching” day.
First I would like to point out, I started during the middle of the meet, and back then that wasn`t normal. People get hired at the beginning of the meet, makes teaching new people easier when you can train them all together. But anyway, I went for training. The first thing I got to do was sit in and watch one of the ladies work her window. She ran a $50 window and also cashed IRS stuff so lucky for me she wasn`t very busy and I could watch her do things. People who had that kind of window didn`T have near as many people trying to run each other over and call out bets over top of one another. So I got the chance to really watch at a slower pace and pick up a few tricks. Another note here, is that people who bet in $50 windows generally have some basic knowledge at least of how to bet, so getting used to the types of bets and where keys are was a bit easier, then someone who bets small bets and might bet on all kinds of things.
After sitting with her for about a race or 2, the guy who was designated to actually train me showed up. He was awesome. I think the reason I became such a good teller was mainly because of him. The first thing he taught me was some of the lingo. He said “Bettors have their own language. Most of the bets have been around for centuries, so some of the terms have been around for a very long time. To be good you have to know these terms, but also recognize what they mean, because sometimes bettors use them but don`t actually know what they mean”. I realized that the second I had a lady say “Baseball me the 6 horse” She was using some terms she heard but had no idea baseball meant box, and you had to have at least 2 numbers for that. What she meant to say was “across the board”. So I got another hour or so of punching in practice bets from him. Then I got the standard speech from almost every major event in my life “By the way, you start tomorrow!” Most new tellers get a week or so of training I received 2 hours of it, but was probably the best 2 hours of teaching ever.
The next day I arrived at work, and boy was I relieved to find out I would be working right next to the guy who trained me. Even luckier that he worked an IRS window so he could have a bit more chance to watch over me from time to time, if he knew I was getting a particularly difficult customer. Which I had lots of them. In most jobs on your first day, you don`t know what to do, but the people who are your customers do. Like someone buying gas or a candy bar at a convenient store, they know what they want, where as betting you deal with people who don`t know what they want or the right way to say it(generally not all the time). So it is like 2 times the amounts of chances to mess something up.
The first day of work went so slow, waves of people betting 2 dollar shows bets one at a time for 10 races. I swore it would never end. Each person having multiple bets for everyone in their group. One guy gets designated to be the “go bet for us” person. So each bet had to be on a separate ticket. Not that I would`ve known how to put more than 1 on a ticket at that time. Then just when you think you got a little break, the race would be over and time for pay outs. And then the bunch of tickets they had would be flung in your window for you to cash One at a time! It was almost enough to drive a person mad. And on top of all that was the possibility of making a mistake and coming up short. I was 24 dollars short my first day. Sometimes it is easy to figure out what went wrong. If you are short 1,5,10,20,50,100 you might have had bills stuck together, but 24 stuff just happens.
Like most places every now and then you get some idiot that will try to scam you. People who are having a losing day and think they can get on over on you or the track. About 7 races into my first day I had a guy come up and demand to speak to a manager saying I screwed him out of 100 dollar the day before. My boss came to my rescue. She looked the guy in the eyes and told him “First of all, who waits a day when someone cheats them out of $100? Second, this kid just started working for us 4 hours ago, so there is no possible way he ripped you off yesterday. next time don`t come up here accusing people of things, I don`t like when people try to cheat my tellers” Listening to her talk to him like that and stand up for me, I felt so lucky. Especially since before she got to the window I was shaking with fear thinking his lies would get me fired. I was really glad to be on her line that day. She always liked to give me a hard time but she wasn`t afraid to do the right thing when she needed too.
Somehow I managed to make it home that night, I was nervous and shaking and looked like a train wreck waiting to happen. That went on for the rest of the meet. Somehow though I stuck it out and learned the ropes. One thing about it, ask anyone that’s really been a mututel teller. They will tell you it is rough at first but once you get it down, it is a really fun experience.