Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Day at the Office

I arrived at work today, completely cracked out on this new coffee I bought and the delirium of 3 1/2 hours of sleep. Something was wrong with the floorman, we'll call him Mr. P. He seemed a bit somber, and very quiet. I asked him repeatedly throughout the day what was wrong, to no avail. But the swing-shift floorman seemed to think it was because Mr. P. might be catching some flack for his laziness on the job. I was delighted.

A little about Mr. P... He has been in the business too long, has gotten comfortable, and that's never good in the casino industry - or in Vegas as a whole. You always need to look over your shoulder and keep your ears and eyes open. Everyone is replaceable. Everyone is expendable. Mr. P. has been doing less and less of his job every day. On a daily basis, he actually closes his eyes and sleeps sitting up at one of the empty poker tables. Several of us have taken pictures on our camera phones - evidence, just in case.

Of all the times I urged Mr. P. to talk to me today, this was the incident where he actually had something to say:

I was at the end of my break, waiting to go to the table and deal when something on one of the t.v.'s caught my eye. An Afghani woman with stab wounds all about her neck and shoulders. I watched the news story with sympathy as the reporters delved deeper into the story. 90% of Afghani women are abused they said. Violence in Afghani marriages is rampant. There was a group for Afghani women to get support, and they were showing a room full of women sheathed in fabric, eyes scared, but sharing. Talking. Helping. My heart really felt for these women.

"Now you know why those Afghan women wear all that stuff over their faces, don't ya?" Mr. P. broke my reverie. "Ugly women."

"That's awful Mr. P." It's all I can say. I've known him to be somewhat of a bigot in the past, but this is ridiculous.

"Well, it's true. I mean, look at 'em. That's why they cover up their faces. It's gotta be."

"Stop, Mr. P, that's horrible to say." I look at the clock on my phone, two more minutes.

"Can you imagine if they had a beauty pageant with all those women in it? They'd have a really hard time finding a winner, I bet. Think about it, have you ever seen an Afghan woman win Miss U.-"

"Stop Mr. P., you are a horrible, awful man. It's enough." I cut him off, push early into the poker game and wish I'd never provoked him to speak at all.

Other than that, it was a pretty typical day with pretty typical player turnout. Tantrum Doug, or Little Doug, formerly Golfer Doug, was in for a few hours. Not throwing cards too much today, but the grumbly, mumbly constant commentary about losing on the river was thrown around quite a bit. Two Bobs, well, one Bob and one Robert spent a few hours with us. Mike that looks like Jesus, and Mike who has no poker etiquette. One very quiet Larry and one very verbal Larry were actually sitting right next to each other for quite some time. Today, I guess everyone came in twos.

Out back at the smoking patio, I saw the Lightening Lady. She had a story for me about a man at a slot machine the day before who either farted or pooped his pants, no one knew for sure. As she recounted the story, it made her laugh and laugh. Her face is like the desert we live in. Cracks and holes and deep, deep roadways and saggy folding skin over saggy folding skin. When she laughs it is a beautiful disaster. I love it when she laughs.

On my last break, Mr. P. told me that Marie, one of our elderly players, had a stroke. That she was in a coma and wasn't expected to come out of it. I told him I liked Marie and it made me sad to hear that. He didn't say anything else, but the look on his face told me that he was gratified, almost happy, to have brought me this terrible news. The more I learn about this man, the more I listen and keep my mouth shut.

I left the game a little early, leaving our 5:00 dealer the reins on a lame horse, a shaky game. I spent about 15 minutes gossiping and venting to the swing-shift floorman. And gathering info on what was to come with Mr. P. and the room in general. As I walked to my car, the wind picked up and was nearly unbearable.

But I was off work - for 5 days - and I was happy about it. All in all, just another day at the office.

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