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Great Night Jobs for Retirees

Evening work options for retirees who burn the midnight oil

Manny St. Mary works at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manny St. Mary works a night job at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. — Scott Goldsmith

If you are willing to forgo working 9 to 5, there's a smorgasbord of jobs that can be sampled during the hours when most folks have dimmed their lights.

These range from baking pastries and breads to manning the front desk at a hotel, selling movie or theater tickets, cleaning offices or working in a variety of different positions in the growing, round-the-clock casino industry.

Blackjack dealer Manny St. Mary, a 62-year-old retired restaurateur, typically works from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., three to four days a week. You can find him behind one of the 100 green felt tables scattered across the spacious gaming floor at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

St. Mary, a native of the Philippines, initially signed on as a chef in the casino's Grandview Buffet restaurant when it opened two years ago, after he and his wife, Priscilla, also an accomplished chef, were forced to close their own eatery. Priscilla was in failing health at the time. "She retired, and I spent about two years taking care of her," St. Mary recalls.

But full-blown retirement wasn't in the cards for Manny. "I was lonely. I wanted to be busy. I was a little worried about money and scared that my mind would idle and dementia would set in," he says. "I needed to keep working."

Shortly after Manny started at the casino restaurant, his people skills caught the eye of management and he was asked if he wanted to train to be a dealer.

Manny breezed through the process. He had to pass a math test and sit for an interview. Then, after graduating from an intensive 12-week course and receiving the green light from the state-required background check, he stepped into the action.

It was new territory for him. "I didn't gamble in my life. I didn't know anything about three-card poker, blackjack or splitting cards," he says matter-of-factly. But he was a quick study. The real secret? "Your hands must be nimble, fast, swift and very accurate," he rattles off rapidly. "You must be flamboyant in your language, amiable, talkative and very kind-hearted. You must evoke friendliness and smile."

In other words, have a little razzle-dazzle. Casinos riff off a vibe of youth and energy. St. Mary has that energy in spades. "I love interacting with people. It makes me feel vibrant, and I guess I'm lucky. I look 40," he boasts with a quick chortle.

St. Mary admits a card dealer's job won't suit everyone his age. It takes stamina of a sort. Aside from the oomph of showmanship, this is on-your-feet work. There is no sitting on this shift — except for scheduled breaks.

The hours allow him to spend his days with Priscilla, now 72 and living in an assisted care facility. That's a big motivator for him.

Base pay is low: $4.50 an hour, in addition to health benefits, a 401(k) plan and paid vacation. "Dealers depend on the generosity of the players," St. Mary says. "They aren't obliged to tip, so you never know what each night will bring."

It's possible to take home $15 an hour, he estimates. (Players often tip 5 percent of winnings; if they lose for the session, a $10 gratuity is not unusual). "Last night, somebody won $10,000! Ahh … it was amazing," he excitedly squeals. "They were so happy. Me, too."

Here are five great jobs for night owls to consider. Pay ranges, which vary depending on factors such as experience and geography, are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data.

Next: Play your cards right, and this job could be for you. >>

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