Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back in the Day--Part 1

My good friend, Barry @ http://www.sulustu.blogspot.com/ tagged me for this meme. Seven Random/Weird Things about yourself. Well, ya'll probably know there are several weird things about me LOL. You guys know alot about me already since I tend to be very honest about myself. So, for several days, I have been thinking what 7 random/weird things would I tell that are new, interesting, etc. Today is Number 1 on the list. I will post them, as Barry did, in installments. Maybe one each day, maybe once a week. Who knows, we'll just see where the muse leads.
Now, you're probably wondering what the pictures above are all about. A map with Mesquite, NV starred & the shot down what is the main drag in Mesquite. Well, welcome to Random Fact #1.
In 1982, I moved to this small sleepy town on the Nevada/Arizona border. My now ex was offered a job there selling time-shares to an old resort from the 40's that was being refurbished. There were very few places to live & even less places to work. I had always done office work. Well, we spent all our money moving, getting set up in an apartment, etc. His job fell through or so he told me. We were out of money, my parents would not help, he had no family who would help, we were stuck & broke. Really broke. He refused to look for work-he just sat down & had a breakdown-then he began gambling which was how he had made his living for several years. But that is another story for another time. I knew I had to find a job-I had my son to think about. Cowboy (Dud #2) suggested I go down to the Peppermill Casino. Casino???? Me???? What the hell would I do in a CASINO??? The Peppermill was the only place hiring, really the only place to work at the time. So, I applied. Did I go to work in the office?? No, I became a COCKTAIL WAITRESS. Yep, shy, naive, scared little girl from OK became a cocktail waitress. Very short denim skirt with fringe so short it had the tights sewed in. Tight vest & western shirt with cowboy boots. I, for those of you who do not know me personally, have very long legs. In fact if I didn't I would only be 4 foot tall. So, 5'7" is mostly legs, especially when you weigh only 100 lbs. I refused to have any pictures taken of me in that outfit, but I wore it every day for the year it took for save the funds to move into Las Vegas. I had hair down to my waist, lots of make-up, & a drive to feed my son, provide a home.
I hated that job in the beginning. I was just mortified by it. After all, good girls in OK just didn't work in a CASINO for gosh sakes & wear skirts up to here & shirts open down to there. But, after I learned the ropes of cocktailing & began to learn how to tend bar it got to be fun. Plus, I made REALLY good money. A bad day was $100 in tips. I rarely had a bad day. I also started to find my voice, my strength, my ability to survive. I developed a very sarcastic sense of humor, a way with words, I could cut an out of line customer to pieces with a look & a finely phrased insult. My regulars loved me. I found my sense of humor. In the beginning I was funny because I was so green I would say something never realizing the double meaning. People laughed. Sometimes I had to have it explained to me. Usually I was then mortified, but I learned. I became worldly, developed street smarts, & I learned to make ditzy work to my advantage. I can still turn it on & off. I learned I liked interacting with people day in & day out. I learned I was very good at slinging drinks. My memory came in very handy because I would remember what someone drank a year later. I was good at remembering faces & drinks. Not so good with names but that didn't matter. I learned to standup for myself. Stuck my finger in the face of a very large Hell's Angel one day & gave him what for because he whistled to get my attention. Advised him I was not a German Shepard & that he could call me Miss or by my name if he needed to get my attention. He apologized & always came by if he was in the area. Nice guy.
I've been pinched, patted, poked, touched inappropriately & handled it all by myself. Guy knew he had got hold of a she-wolf if he got out of line with me. I did not take that kind of treatment. Oh, I would go home in tears sometimes, but the offender never saw me cry. He always got a piece of my attitude. I never had to use security to handle a drunk. I learned to handle them myself. I gained respect for myself & in turn gained respect from my customers.
I met so many interesting people. Miners, broken-down cowboys (one of them always reminded me of the cowboy in the song "Queen of the Silver Dollar" ), gamblers, bikers, truckers, the down-trodden, the down & out. Sad, lonely people. But I liked them all. I found their stories enlightening, I found my love for people that had been lying dormant in my spirit. I truly cared about them all.
Every Sunday, the polygamist families would come for dinner (that's the noon meal for all ya'll non-Southerners) at the buffet. They also ran the local grocery store. Very polite, never looked right or left as they passed the bar heading for the restaurant. Husband in front, wives single file behind him, kids following their moms. Even in the grocery they would not carry on a conversation. I would have really liked to know them better. I bought my car tag in Colorado City, AZ. Everyone there was also wary of outsiders, understandably so, but they took my money, gave me a car tag, & watched me leave town.
So, after leaving Mesquite & moving to Las Vegas, I continued my career move as a cocktail waitress later becoming a bartender then moving to bar/restaurant management. I liked the bar business, the late hours, the people, the challenges, & the ability to make more money than I had ever made in my life. By today's standards, I still made more money in Vegas than I make now. At one time I would jokingly say "Someday I'll be the World's Oldest Bartender". That was not meant to be.
In that line of work, my shoulder was dislocated when I fell behind the bar & almost ripped the muscle out of my left arm on the handle of a beer cooler & my thumb was dislocated because a drunk who happened to be a lawyer in a suit/tie bent my right thumb back until it touched my wrist. Hurt like hell. A biker pulled him off me. God love my bikers!!
I have broken up more bar fights than I care to remember, hauled guys off each other & threw them out the door, I know how to use the business end of a pool cue when I need to. I have mopped up blood, bandaged wounds, counseled, listened, cajoled, threatened, hugged, & cried with my customers. I never thought anything about jumping out from behind the bar & grabbing a guy throwing punches. I could usually have him out the door before he realized a "girl" was throwing him out. I was brave... or maybe just stupid. But whatever it worked. I never used bouncers in the places I managed. They were just an invitation for someone to take a swing at them. But, I never never tried to break up a fight between women. I always called the cops for that. Women fight dirty. They can be much more dangerous than men. I knew my limitations.
I have heard many stories standing behind the bar. But the one that has haunted me for over 20 yrs was told to me by a regular customer that I had known for years. He & his children had gone up in a private plane with a friend. He was holding his baby son (not yet 2 yrs old) on his lap. The door came open & his son was sucked out of his arms into space. He told me of finding his son's little shoe, then his body, how it felt when he picked the baby up. He told me how guilty he still felt. He cried from sadness, guilt, remorse, memory, & a hurt that will never leave him. I can still see that picture in my mind. I don't think it will ever leave me. I think of that man often. May Great Spirit give him peace & the ability to forgive himself.
I cocktailed/tended bar in Nevada for 7 years. Then I continued the Journey in Oregon, bartending/managing bars & taverns for another 7 years.
So, my Journey toward today, the person I am meant to be, began in a Casino in the Nevada desert, far from OK, far from all that was familiar, far so very far from who I thought I was & would always be. The road has lead me many places, to many experiences that have shaped me. The Journey will continue with my remaining 6 facts.
blessed be...

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