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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Making $$$ @ the Meat Market

As I've stated in one of my previous posts, I used to be a waiter at a nightclub I'll call "Whiskey's."

This nightclub is owned and operated by a family that would seem dysfunctional: the guy who founded it, (I affectionately refer to him as "the old man,") got married to a much younger woman who divorced him, and she got half the nightclub in the divorce. She handles the money and the books.

The old man is a great guy. He's the kind of boss everybody wishes they had. He's the ultimate authority in that place, but he's so laid back. Even though he doesn't provide health insurance to his employees, he's been known to make loans to employees who need money for surgeries, or other emergencies. He does it without asking, and he never asks for a re-payment schedule. They get their full check every week, and whatever they can pay back (if they can,) he gladly accepts.

I asked the old man about this. I said, "Why do you do that? You know they could quit tommorow, and you'd never see another dime from them." He smiled, and said, "You know, I'm to the point in my life where money is just markers to me. Before I got rich off this place, I scratched out a living, just like everyone else. I worked a factory job on third shift for 8 years. Most of that check went to my first ex-wife for child support. For 8 years, when I got off work from the factory, I'd go straight to my construction job on days, so I could support myself; I know what it's like."

The stepmom, (the founder's ex-wife who owns half the nightclub) isn't as generous or understanding as the old man. That's not her position. She's there to make sure that nobody screws the business. She's got the financial wisdom of an IRS agent; nothing gets past her.

My first encounter with the stepmom, was sometime in my first few days as a waiter. She told me, "I don't know how you got hired as a waiter here; you'll never make as much money as the girls. You don't have bumps under your shirt, and you'd probably look awful in a short skirt - good luck."

I never forgot that. She was right. Or so it seemed. I started devising ways to boost my income, bumps or no bumps. I started off short-changing obnoxious drunks who would run my ass off, and never tip. Also, if people would order a Jack and Coke, I'd bring them a whiskey and coke, charge them the "call" price, and pocket the difference. (Never got "called" on that, either!)

So much for the "bumps" theory. Most nights, I did better than the girls. (Of course, they never had the guts to purposely short-change drunks, but hey - you gotta do, what you gotta do.)

One night, I hit the jackpot! The town I live in, is the international headquarters to an oil company. The oil company flew in some executives from London for training. Since these were high-ranking executives with connections the company needed, they got $500 in cash every night during this training, so they could "unwind."

It's been said that Americans and the British are separated by a common language. It goes much deeper than that. The American oil company executives wore three piece suits, but the styling was so conservative and safe.

The British executives also wore three piece suits, but in exotic, yet tasteful colors. Their fabrics were much richer, and they adorned their suits with gold and brass accessories that the Americans lacked.

The Americans were wall flowers. They couldn't believe they were in the local meat market. They looked like fish out of water. They'd sit in the corner, near the pool tables, nervously sipping what they thought were Jack and Cokes. They were quiet, embarassed, and kept to themselves.

The Brits on the other hand, were a whole different story. They were loud, fun, and brought life into the place. They were looking for a game of pool. Lucky for them, "Marcy," the pool shark was on the prowl.

Her style of dress was business-like, but at the same time, sexy. She wore collared, button-down shirts, short black skirts with matching hose, and high heels with a matching scarf and belt. She wore just enough makeup to take the edge off her cold, all-business look. It was by no means, slathered on. She was extremely attractive - and extremely good at pool.

When the oil execs first came in, the leader of the British group came up to me and said, "All this damn American money looks the same. Don't you know how frustrating that is? When I get pissed [drunk] I can't tell whether I'm paying with a twenty-note, or a hundred-note." [I felt like saying, "If you only knew who you're dealing with,"] but I held my tongue. He opened his wallet, fanning the considerable wad of cash with his thumb. He pulled out a hundred, closely inspecting it to make sure what he was giving me. "Keep the jugs coming till this runs out."

Marcy noticed. She slinked over and introduced herself with handshakes for everyone; and an invite for a little pool - for money, of course.

"Jugs?" I asked. Looking irritated with himself, he stammered a little, and said, "Pitchers - you call them pitchers. Keep the glasses frosted. If we've got to drink this shit cold, we might as well do it right. Damn stuff tastes like Kool Aid, and it takes forever to get buzz going. There's more where this came from, and we'll tip well for good service. Run along now."

Marcy, bent over the pool table, breaking for the first game, looked over at me and winked. We'd both be in for a good night.

For the first few games, everytime Marcy would bend over the table to make a shot, the Brits would stand behind her, and using both hands, they'd form an "L" with their thumb and forefinger, the ends of their thumbs touching, "framing" her ass in a picture. Keeping their hands still, they'd move their heads from side to side, for different "angles." The Americans would roll their eyes, even more embarassed than before. You could tell, they couldn't wait to get out of there.

Between games, Marcy would count the money she won, her lips moving silently: "Twenty, fourty, sixty, eighty, a hundred..." The Brits didn't mind that she was winning the company's money. At the same time, she didn't mind the occassional, (reassuring,) slap on the rump when she'd make a good shot. (Funny, how that only happened when she remained bent over the tabel, after the shot was made.)

After a while, a little excitement: a table with four couples had a little ruckus. The women at this table were dressed up in skimpy outfits, makeup like Tammy Faye Baker. The men, were dressed business-casual, and very mousy looking.

One woman slapped the other. A cat-fight broke out. The women were rolling around on the floor, scratching, slapping and pulling hair. This drove the Brits nuts! The rest of the table stood up, forming a circle around the women on the floor. They were nervously scratching their heads, looking worried.

The Brits temporarily abandoned their game, and started howling with excitement. They walked over for a better look. As I was passing by, delivering another round of "jugs" to the "lads," one of the mousy men grabbed me by the arm: "Aren't you going to do something about this?" I looked down on the floor, and calmly responded: "Why?"

The Brits howled even louder. They all put their right hands in the air, expecting a high five from me. I slapped their hands hard, and shook with gusto; each and every one of them.

The fight died down, and I went over to the pool tables, setting out the pitchers, and newly frosted mugs. The Brits were all around me, slapping my back, saying things like, "You're the man," and "Best time I ever had in this po-dunk town," etc.

This time, they all reached into their wallets, and pulled out money, and said, "Here - make sure the drinks keep coming - this should cover it. Keep the change." The Americans waved their hands in disgust. One of them said to me, "These guys can go all night - we're outta here."

All night long, the Brits kept giving me more than enough money to make sure the drinks kept coming. They even gave me $50 to bribe the DJ to play Guns and Roses. (He didn't know how much they gave me - I gave him $10, and he still played Guns and Roses.)

At the end of the night, after the Brits left, Marcy and I were sitting on bar stools in the game room, counting our money; our lips moving silently: "One hundred, two hundred, three hundred..." She winked at me.

On my way home that night, I bought a lottery ticket.