A day in the life of a security officer
Snow is falling outside, with not a soul in sight. It is Minnesota, after all, and these somber days are the norm. But inside of Grand Casino, the slot machines are dinging, and laughter they are bringing. Dealers are passing out cards to exuberant players at the tables, the announcer calls out names of winners of today’s drawing, aroma of food invites hungry guests to the many restaurants, and the happy chatter of people fills the air. It’s a fun atmosphere, reminiscent of a carnival, but for adults, where they gladly immerse themselves in.
Diane Tri and Tammy Fisher are sitting at a security podium, located at the far end of the casino. They explain that this is one of the duties that security officers may be performing. “Here we give out keys, take in keys, do a key audit and answer the phone,” Tri says.
“We also do a lot with the lost and found,” Fisher chimes in. “People lose everything from dentures to pillows, clothes, shoes, car keys, cellphones and glasses.”
Their favorite part of the job is interacting with coworkers and guests. “It’s like a second family,” Tri says smiling. She has been at the casino for 24 years, eight of them in security. “I enjoy talking with people and visiting with guests.”
Prior to working at the casino, Tri ran a daycare business, worked at a grocery store and in a retail store. She also had a farm and took care of daily duties, such as feeding animals. Tri started out as a cage cashier. “I’ve been here since the day the casino opened.” Tri’s husband works in slots, and her daughter works in valet. In her free time, Tri babysits her three grandkids and enjoys camping. “I also read a lot, especially mysteries.” The last book she read was “Along Came a Spider” by James Patterson.
“My advice for new security guards coming in is to have a sense of humor,” Fisher says, “and to provide good guest service.” She explains that in the beginning new associates may feel overwhelmed. “Some come in and think that all we do is stand by the front door and count how many guests come in,” Fisher explains. “But there is more to security than what they thought.” Some security guards also cover the timekeeper’s office, where they hand out and receive radios. Security officers also work at events and concerts. And they do roving, which involves patrolling casino, hotels and outlying properties to ensure a safe environment for guests and associates, and identifying any safety hazards or security breaches, and documenting any necessary reports. The job also entails helping others in crisis situations. “One time we heard a woman yelling in the stairwell of the hotel,” Tri recalls. “There was an echo and it took us some time to locate her.” The woman was in distress and Tri got her help. “EMT came and took care of her.”
“Different things arise in a day.” Fisher says. She has trained in many new associates. “Just be patient,” she advises. “You’re not going to remember it all, but don’t get discouraged. And you start out on the low end and work your way up as you learn.”
Security guards also do escorts of money and persons in money-handling positions, and respond to medical emergencies. “We also open up associates’ offices, who forgot their keys,” Fisher says. “We do everything!” she laughs.
Fisher has also originally gotten a job at the casino when it first opened. She started out in food and beverage. Her family moved away but they came back and she has been in security since 2004.
Tri adds: “Before the casino opened, you couldn’t get a job around here. There wasn’t anything else in this area. One job would open at a bank, for example, but they’d have 400 applicants. Casino brought jobs and health insurance and vacation time. It’s nice and close.”
“We all know each other here,” Fisher says, “so we joke a lot. We also joke with new associates to break the ice. The key is to not take it personally, because it’s all in good fun.”
“We joke with guests, too!” Tri exclaims. She recalls a time when she was working as a cage cashier and a guest came up in a Green Bay Packers shirt and hat. “So I said to him: ‘Have a good day even if you are a Packers fan!’ He laughed. So I said: ‘so you like my abuse?’ He turned around and said: ‘I can handle it. I’ve been married for 11 years!’ So my favorite moments are interactions with guests.”
Tri and Fisher finish each other’s sentences and laugh throughout the conversation. Other security guards pop in, and they engage in banter, too. Behind the security podium, Grand Rewards team members are handing out red and plaid scarves sets. It is just one of their many giveaways. In front of the security podium is the new restaurant called Stories. Marble countertops sparkle, and the tongue-and-groove ceiling adds a cozy Up North feeling. A crowd has gathered, waiting for their turn to be seated. Inside, patrons are trying out new dishes, and the ones seated in the patio-like area can people-watch others playing blackjack. Security officers play an important role in the midst of all of this fun activity. They treat associates and guests with respect and warmth. And they thoroughly enjoy providing guests a great casino experience, allowing them to pursue lady luck in a safe and fun environment.
By: Tanya Starinets