Have you ever been to a bar at 7:30 in the morning and found it open? Now I only know of one kind of a place in our country that you could find that: in a casino. I've been there regularly for the last 8 years. That's because I'm one of the bartenders at the Infinitie in Las Vegas. It's an interesting kind of life and, as probably any bartender will tell you, we meet some interesting people. But this isn't a story about our customers really; I want to tell you about one of the women I work with. She has become rather important in my life over the past few years.
Bree (Sabrina) was 23 when I met her. A slender 5'2 with shoulder length black hair, slanted brown eyes, caramel skin, and as cute as a button. (Jeez Mike, talk about a dumb comparison!) She worked in the same casino as I did. I was a 'service' bartender and she was one of the 'drinkgirls', both of us on the first shift. That meant we worked together on opposite sides of the bar. She and I and a staff of sometimes up to 5 others worked the shift in our department. Ben and I made the drinks that she and usually 3 other girls brought out to the 'customers' on their rounds.
Since we were working the 7 to 3 crowd we moved a lot of coffee, soft drinks and our signature iced tea or lemonade. Those were the 'freebies' provided by the casino to the active gamblers. Ben and I occasionally had someone sit at the bar but generally not before about 11 in the morning. Even the most dedicated gamblers had a difficult time calling for alcohol in the early morning unless they wanted a "breakfast" type drink like a mimosa. Occasionally I'd get a call for a screwdriver, probably because of the orange juice, but I've noticed that most people who do that don't ask for a second. I've been told that you can actually taste the vodka or gin in the morning when the taste buds had just awakened, whereas you wouldn't taste it at night.
Bree's crew consisted of 3 girls during the week and 5 or 6 on the weekends and holidays. Mary Laney was the crewboss. She was one of the crew on the weekend days and 3 days of the week. She would move her 'weekend' around according to the casino's planned special events. There actually were 4 regular girls beside her. She scheduled the other girls and the weekend crew, mixing the other 4 into the weekend work on a regular schedule. She was good at her job and Ben and I were happy to have her working with us.
Ben, Alfonse (Al), and I were the bartenders. Al only worked Mondays, weekends and some holidays - this was his second job. Ben and I alternated working the weekends. Ben was the boss at the bar, he's the one who made the schedules and did the ordering. He had been working at the Infinitie for the last 20 years.
Me, I'm a lot newer than that. At the time, I'd only been working at the casino for the past 5 years. I was a fifty-year-old drink-builder. This is a second career for me. I'd been a teacher for 20 years and when I won a lottery by accident I quit that job and went back to school. In the process I moved to Las Vegas. At school I studied two different lines of work. I learned to be a card dealer, which could be useful in this town if I needed a new job. And I went to bartending school. This is the second place I've tended bar regularly, but getting into this position was a sideways deal. And that's another story for another time.
This was a good, low pressure, job. We seldom had a 'rush'; we seldom had to deal with a drunk; and most of the time our service was complimentary to the players. That meant that we didn't handle much money. Heck, my biggest ring this year was $20.00. Over in the big restaurants they sometimes get rings of over $1000.00. Not here though, most of our 'customers' drank for free. Only the bar sitters paid.
At 'our bar' we pretty much ran things ourselves. Ben and Mary worked with the casino management, but we had little official contact with any of the others bars or other departments. We had a pretty good group of people to work with. As a crew we all got along quite well, and we sometimes got together after hours for socializing. Most of the time that involved a potluck or a barbecue at somebody's house every couple of months. We didn't limit these functions to our bar group exclusively but we usually formed the core group of the get-togethers. Most of the time the others who joined us were first shift floor workers like us - floor guards, dealers and pit crewmembers, and people in the regular food and beverage outlets. But, like I say, it was generally built around our core of first shift bartenders and drinkgirls. Not many of us worked other shifts with any regularity so we didn't get much mix from the other shifts.
The first story I want to tell begins at one of those barbecues. This one was at Al's home on the southwest side of the city. There were about 15 of us from the casino and with the spouses and kids thrown in there were probably about 35 to 40 of us. Al and I were cooking the meat (as usual) while some of the women put everything else together. Ben, Al and I usually brought the meat for the gang while the rest of them divided up all the rest of the food and plates and cups and drinks and all that other stuff you need for a good feed. I always felt that it was a good deal for me because I got a darn good meal with drinks and good company for the price of one expensive date for dinner. And I had no obligations afterwards.
This particular time we were doing slabs of ribs. Al had picked them up yesterday and had smoked them (with his own special rub) in his smoker starting at 9 o'clock this morning. What we were doing now was called 'finishing'. It involved two big gas grills, about 10 slabs on each, some tinfoil for the thin spots on the slabs, and lots and lots of sauce. Actually, the two of us had it down pretty well, having done BBQ about 4 times a year at somebody's house for the past several years. We had experimented at first, but now we followed our established procedures. Because he was the 'ex-barbecue caterer' and since we were at his place, he was 'the boss'. Mostly that meant that I had to bring the 'beer for the cooks' to the 'cue.
We had just moved the meat to the grills and painted on the first coat of sauce. We were about an hour from being ready to serve when Al got a phone call from his daughter. I could see as he took the call in the kitchen that he was becoming more and more agitated. When he hung up he stepped out on the patio and said that we had to talk. He hollered for Mary to come over and when she arrived he explained that he had to leave, probably for the rest of the evening. He wanted Mary to keep an eye on the people in the pool and to tell someone off to set up the tables for serving the rest of the food. He told me that I was in charge of getting the 'cue finished and served, but that he'd send 'that girl' over to help me out. Clean up had always been an automatic thing in the group so he wasn't concerned about that part. He asked me to lock up after everybody was done and out.
Of course we agreed and asked if we could help with anything else. He hadn't told us what was taking him away from us and he didn't now. Al just said, "you take care of all of that and I'll appreciate it." About 5 minutes later he called to me from the kitchen door, flipped me a spare house key and with a wave, left us to our fates.
As the word went around through the group people were asking what had happened and, of course, Mary and I had to say we didn't know. As usual with this group everybody pitched in to keep the pool safe and to get the tables set up for serving and for eating. Washrags (we were going to eat ribs, remember, ) bone plates and garbage cans were set up and placed out. Mary was getting help to get everything all set up. And most important to me, Al's 'that girl' showed up to help me. I had given Mary a schedule of about 45 minutes before the meat would be ready. If I had to do all of the finishing by myself I wouldn't make it and I didn't know who Al was sending over until she arrived. While I waited I painted a second coat of sauce on the ribs. This was Al's special 'Hot 'n' Sweet' sauce. We'd used it before and it was quite a favorite with our group.
Here came Sabrina. I don't know why I was surprised but I was. Her first words to me were "Hi Mike, Uncle Al said I should come and help you out." Now I know Al well enough to know that he doesn't have any nieces, especially ones who work at the casino with us. When I looked at her funny she said "What, you can't see the family resemblance?"
We'd only had business contact since she came to work at the 'house' (the casino) about 6 months ago. She was a good worker, always pleasant but we hadn't had the opportunity to get real well acquainted. I'd thought she was pretty good looking but had never thought to hit on her because of our obvious age difference. But, what the heck, I felt safe enough to make a reply in the same spirit as hers.
I responded that "Uncle Al is an only child, so aside from the obvious, no I don't see the family resemblance." The obvious was that they sort of shared the same skin color; she just had a unique oriental twist to her appearance. Her grin indicated that I was right and that she didn't take offense at my comment.
"Yep! That and the fact that I used to work for him in his catering business. People always thought I was his daughter, but Shawna didn't like that so we started saying that I was his niece. He's been Uncle Al since then. He helped me get the job at the 'house'. Now - what do you want me to do?"
I popped a beer open for each of us and handed hers over. "If you worked for him before you probably know about as much about ribs as I do so maybe you should take over". As she quickly shook her head no to that suggestion, so I continued, "We need to turn both grills, pop the foil and then mop both grills again. Then, in about 20 minutes we can start separating for service. OK?"
"Sure thing, just point me to a grill!"
And with that we were off to work as a team. I handed her a pair of gloves and pointed her at one of the grills. The pot of sauce was warming on the top and as she pulled the gloves on I handed her a clean basting mop.
"I haven't done this for at least a year," she said. "But it's like riding a bike, once you learn how you never exactly forget how to do it. You guys really don't know why Al had to leave?"
"Nope, he took a phone call that upset him. I could see that. But he didn't say anything except that he had to leave and probably wouldn't make it back while we're still here. He gave me a spare key to lock up with and said he'd pick it up at work on Saturday."
"Well, I know that Shawna has been having some trouble with an ex-boyfriend, maybe something happened with her. I hope not. Al hates the guy and might get in trouble if he goes after him."
"Well," I said, "we'll find out sometime. Right now we've got a bunch of hungry people to feed."
Now these were big grills. We could easily fit about 9 or 10 rib racks on each grill. The easiest way to move the racks was to grab them in our hands - therefore the gloves. As we turned them we removed the aluminum foil used to keep the thinner ends from becoming overcooked. Then we gave all the racks their third and final moping with the barbecue sauce. This took just less than 15 minutes and we talked the whole time. We had never talked much before. She was a good worker at the bar and she impressed me here too.
She wasn't dressed for this work at all. She had come to mingle and was wearing a pair of white thin-soled sandals on her feet, a short white skirt, and a light green spaghetti strap top that just hugged her figure. Bree had a very cute figure and as we worked I got to see quite a bit of it. When she bent down to pick up a piece of tinfoil that had dropped I couldn't help but observe that she was wearing a white thong, which put her very attractive brown buns in view. Nobody else could observe that ordinarily because she was also wearing a slip (I didn't know they made slips for that short of a dress!). When she reached up her flat little belly would show because this little skirt was a 'low rider' and when she reached over to work the grill the tops of her breasts would raise up out of her little top. The light brown and light green contrast was very attractive. All told, I saw 'more' of Bree than I ever had at work, and all of what I saw was GOOD. I just hoped that the object of the observations was not observing my observations.
Mary came by to verify that we'd have meat for the serving table in about half an hour. After a quick consultation to verify that Bree could split the racks I told Mary to have someone ready to run the ribs to the table because we'd deliver on time. The three of us grinned at each other and Mary took off. Bree grinned and said, "That was always more my job - the serving thing - rather than the cooking part. Al took care of most of that and Shawna and I showed up later to set up the serving tables and get the meat prepared for serving after Al pulled it off the gas. I am AN EXPERT at splitting racks!"
"Good," I said, "Because I'm not. I'll leave all of that for you to handle."
Discussing the remaining work to be done on those ribs we agreed to give them about 15 minutes more of cooking and then we would start pulling the slabs. Bree told me that we'd set out two trays and that what I should do is put one slab on each and then go through the cycle again. Bree assured me that she could split them into 'twosticks' (two ribs to a serving) as rapidly as I could fill the trays. That she could do the cutting before a new slab landed on top of the old one. When we had 4 slabs split up on each tray we'd be finished with the first serving. Then we would do it again, finish off with a 'short platter', and we'd be finished except for the cleanup.
It worked out just like she said. I gave her one of my special knives (I brought my own whenever I was cooking) and she showed me that she knew how to sharpen it. When she was done with the steel that knife was so sharp that the ribs fell apart in sheer fear of being sliced.
As I pulled slabs and she separated the ribs everyone else got in line and grabbed the rest of the food. When we were finished with the last set of trays we turned the grills up to high burn off and went to set ourselves up to eat. Everybody else had already gotten through the line once, so we were invited to crash one of the seconds lines, we loaded up with our firsts and headed to a table close to the grills. By now the grills were smoking pretty well which meant that the sauce and meat that was stuck to the grillwork should be charred pretty well, so I went and turned the gas off on each. Now all we had to do was use grill brushes when the grills cooled off. That would be after we had eaten our own share of the food.
Everybody was pretty well fed when Mary stood up and gave a whistle. Mary has one of those piercing, fingers in the mouth and full of wind whistles that stops everybody wherever they are and whatever they're doing. When she had their attention she explained again that Al had had to leave and that we were all responsible for cleanup so that he didn't come home to a mess. She also thanked everybody for their contributions to the meal and pointed out that we had a new 'grill-person' working today. She explained how Bree had helped 'finish' the meat and asked for a round of applause. Bree stood only when I forced her up to receive the acknowledgment and we exchanged hi-fives to celebrate a job well done. Her brown face filled with a grin at the acknowledgement of her service to the group and she gave me a hug to show that she was happy.
Except, of course, we weren't done. Dumping our table service in the trash but carrying our beers with us we went and scrubbed down the grills. When they were clean we pulled them into the garage space where they were usually stored. Then we went back to the party.
Since the party was really for the afternoon, it mostly ended with dinner and as it had gotten past 8 PM, people were gathering stuff together to leave. Cleanup had been well done, the tables and chairs had been stored and the garbage cans pulled to the side of the garage. These people were free to leave if they wanted. Even with a lot of friendly good-byes being shared it didn't take long for Mary, Bree and I to be the only ones left on the patio.
The three of us went over mutual checklists of what we thought needed to be done and when we agreed that it was finished we figured we could leave. Mary headed out the front door and I threw the deadbolt behind her. The key that Al had given me was for the back door and was for a deadbolt there. As I headed back to the kitchen I found Bree looking in the phone book. "What ya lookin' for?" I asked.
"I got a ride over here with a friend and thought I could get Al to bring me home. So, I'm going to call a cab to pick me up."
"Put the book away, partner. I can drop you anyplace you want to go."
"Great!" She immediately closed the yellow pages and put the book back on the counter. "Let's go!" she said and headed for the door.
After locking the door behind us and going out through the gate next to the garage we headed for my truck, parked out front. As I drove her to her apartment complex we made small talk. The only important thing we discussed was that whoever heard from Al first would call the other to explain. To carry that out we exchanged phone numbers. We could have said our good-byes in her driveway but I walked her to the door of her north wing apartment "just to be safe." (Actually, in case you hadn't figured it out, I wanted to know where she lived.) So we said good-bye in the hallway and as she closed her door I turned and left the building.
So, that's the real start of my story with Bree.
That's the first time I had any contact with her away from work and I had enjoyed myself like I hadn't in a number of years. I resolved to get to know her better in the future.
Well, neither of us heard from Al for two more days. In the mean time we each worked two shifts. Although now that was different than it had been before the weekend. I knew that I was interested in Bree as a woman. I found out later that she was feeling interested in me as well. We used our bar time to talk about things that had nothing to do with the bar. I learned that she was only about half my age. That almost scared me off. I found out about her earlier years. She found out some about mine. We compared movie, television and reading likes and dislikes. We talked about her education. We never did get to talk about mine.
"I've been taking classes at the 'U'. In my first semester I pulled a full load, but since then it's been one class a semester," said Bree, "and one during the summer if I can fit it in. At this rate it'll take me up to another 5 or 6 years to get my degree. Or it would except that I intend to go to school full time the last year if I can find a way to swing it. Actually the 'U' requires that for graduation."
As an educator who had fled from academia I had to ask: "What's your major?"
"I'm taking mostly English classes right now, but plan on shifting to Journalism classes next year. That's going to be my major I think. I thought about teaching high school English, but don't know if I'd like it. I really like the English part, but don't know if I could handle the kids. So right now I'm sort of thinking about writing for a local paper. I'd like to work for the Times or the Press if I can when I finish up. I've talked to some of the people at both of them and it sounds like they'd hire somebody like me. I was raised here. I've always worked around here and they want somebody with a minority slant to things. With me they get three minorities at once: woman, black and Asian, how much more minority could they want?"
"I'd wondered about your ethnic mix. I like the 'woman' part, but how'd you end up with those two other, fairly different parts to your makeup?"
Actually, a very attractive aspect of this young lady was her appearance. She had a narrow face with fine straight black hair and a very slender appearance. It was obvious that she wasn't pure (?) African American but I had never figured out just what went into her very pleasing appearance.
"Well, my mom moved to San Francisco when she was in high school. She was originally from Watts in LA. In her new high school the first guy to put the moves on her was a second-generation Japanese boy who eventually became my dad. They moved to Las Vegas when I was about 2 years old because dad got a job in the computer department at the Sands. He'd moved around to a few different 'houses' in town before they were both killed in a car accident when I was 18. We didn't have any other relatives still alive so I've been on my own since then."
"I'm sorry that you lost them. That always hurts, no matter what your age. And having no other relatives just makes it harder to deal with. But that story says that you're almost a native? I didn't realize that. There aren't a lot of people in the city who grew up here and stayed around after high school. It seems that most of them have had enough of the desert or the strip, one or the other. Why'd you stay?"
"Mainly because I received a scholarship to the 'U' here in town. I've been able to stretch it out for the last two years, but they're going to shut it off this September."
"So, free school kept you here. But you haven't been going full time, have you? Is that why they're going to shut it off this year?"
"Yea. Unless I register for a regular full load this fall the scholarship disappears. I don't think I can afford to not work for even one semester, so I can't swing a full load. I'll just keep on with my one-class-a-semester plan. I'll just have to pay for it myself. Oops, gotta go, there's old missus Blair, I've got to go see to her. I should be out on my rounds. I'll be back."
Well, that's the kind of stuff we talked about and about how long we talked about them. In between customers, tours of the floor, and mixing drinks. Of course, I pick that one because it's the one that interested me the most and had a direct influence on our futures. We did talk about all kinds of things at work, but then, when Al called her with the information that his daughter had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and that the cops had gotten involved, well then the conversations for a while were about that incident and the people involved.
It was obvious that Bree didn't like Shawna much at all. When we talked about it she explained that Shawna wasn't very nice to her dad, didn't seem to have too high a moral standard, and seemed attracted to guys who were losers. Very attracted to them until they turned against her. Then she called on Daddy for help and Al, being who he was, always delivered the help when requested. Often times he delivered that help at some expense to himself. This time he had bailed her out ($1000.00 cash against $10,000 guaranteed) and hired a lawyer for her defense ($75.00 per billable hour, 10 hours minimum). Bree considered that Shawna could have avoided the whole thing if she had just been more selective in whom she chose to go out with.
The part of this that interfered with work was that it all went down about 5or 6 hours away in Provo, Utah. What Shawna was doing up in Mormon territory, I don't know, but it kept her dad away from the shop for over a week. Remember, we needed him for a relief bartender on our shift. So what happened is that Ben and I worked straight through. We each took no days off for the two weeks that Al was out. Our intention was to take an extra day each the week he came back. That's the way it worked out. To my benefit, I might add.
What happened was that one of our regular customers, Harold Moore, offered me a deal that I couldn't refuse. Harold usually comes in two mornings a week to gamble. Apparently they're the mornings that he starts work at about 11 o'clock instead of 9 AM. He was usually one of our coffee customers as he put in a couple of hours at the slots.
It turns out that he is a tour guide out at Hoover Dam. Now, I'd been out there a few times, usually when I had relatives from out of town in for a visit. It's one of those 'must see' type of places for visitors to the city. But all we'd ever done, of course, was take the basic tours. One morning Harold and I got to talking about his job and I expressed interest in what he did. The upshot of the conversation was that about a week later Harold offered to take me, and 'a friend', on a personally guided tour of the places that regular tourists never got to see up close.
Guess who I asked if she'd like to go on this special tour? I'd been looking for a reason to get together with her outside of business hours.
Bree agreed, and we met Harold on our next day off, which happened to be a Monday because of the 'Al adjustment'. Hey, that's the way our schedules worked out; I told you we were adapting to Al's absence. But that was a good day for Harold because his days off were Tuesday and Wednesday. We'd meet him at the top of the elevators in the tourist center at the dam.
I picked Bree up at 8:30 at her apartment. Again I found her very attractively dressed. This time she was wearing a pair of midlength shorts and a golf shirt with a small Infinitie label. Her shorts were white and her shirt was yellow. Both colors were very attractive with her light brown skin. Knowing we were going to be walking a lot she had equipped herself with a pair of walking shoes with short white socks. And the fun part of it for me was that inside of all that attractive clothing was my attractive 'friend' Bree. She twirled herself around at the door of her ground floor apartment and asked, "Is this acceptable?"
When I allowed that it was (I was wearing almost a matching outfit only my casino shirt was green) she grinned and said "I thought about wearing my little skirt again but figured that you had checked that out completely the day of the barbecue - or was it me you were checking out?"
Damn, and I thought I hadn't been caught in my 'observations'. "Well, I didn't know you had seen me looking at the sights. I hope it wasn't my drooling that gave me away!"
"No, you hid that successfully. I just caught you a couple of times looking at me rather that at the meat on the grill. I found it flattering but haven't had the occasion to razz you about it until now. Those uniforms at work don't elicit quite the same response."
"No, they don't, even though the package inside is very attractive."
"Watch it, buddy!"
"Oh, don't worry, I'll watch it," I said with a grin.
She just grinned a really big grin back at me as if I had said just the right thing. Not too bad for one of the 'old farts'.
With the ice broken for the day we headed west out of town and met Harold at a little after 9 AM in the same room I had always begun my tours of the dam. But that was the end of the normality of the tour. Since Harold had found out that both of us had already taken the regular tour, we skipped most of those areas completely. He even skipped the dumb line about being our 'dam tour guide'. Instead we wandered through maintenance tunnels so deep that in one spot we were walking on the rock that the dam sits on. We got to stand on top of the turbines spinning from the water escaping from the lake. Two stories up we stood next to the generators that those turbines were spinning, making electricity for LA and probably for our own homes.
Harold was an excellent guide, explaining everything we saw. He told us about the history of the dam (of special interest to me, the former history teacher). Bree looked at me funny when I explained that aspect of my interest. The three of us had an enjoyable time in a very unique place.
After about 2 1/2 hours we sat down in a "staff only" coffee room to end our visit with a cup of very good quality coffee. It's located 1 level down from the visitor's center and has quite the view of the outflow bay of the dam. After about 20 minutes of conversation Harold had to leave to do his regular job as somebody else's 'dam tour guide'. We thanked him for the time he had given us. He invited us to stay at the coffee room as long as we wanted and showed us the stairs to get out when we were ready to leave. With a friendly wave, he left us.
Bree didn't wait more than one swallow after that. "I didn't know that you used to be a teacher! The way you were talking about college the other day I thought that you never even tried it. What's the deal?"
"Well, it was 10 years ago so I don't think a lot about it anymore. Until something like this comes up today. I enjoyed it a lot - thanks for coming along. I enjoyed your company too."
"Don't you dare try to change the subject! Now you've got to tell me! How long did you teach, where, what and all that sort of stuff? Give!"
"OK, but it'll be a fairly long story. What if we start it on the way back to town and finish it over lunch at The Hitchin' Post? We'll get there just about at the end of the lunch rush."
Bree stood up, grabbed my hand and headed for the stairs. As she was pulling me along at a fairly serious pace we collected a few chuckles from the rest of the people in the coffee shop. I'm not sure what they thought was happening and I'm not sure I want to know either. In any event it wasn't long before we were back in the parking garage getting into my little pickup for the ride to the restaurant. As I pulled out of the structure she re-issued her command: "Alright! Talk!"
"OK, I was a teacher for 20 years; years I've successfully buried until right now. I don't really like to talk about it. I taught business and history classes in a small high school in northern California until I'd had enough and then I quit."
"Why did you want to keep this a secret?"
"Well, I didn't keep it a secret. I just never told anyone about it. Why should I? I've built a new life here; it has nothing to do with that period of time. Why should I advertise that I used to be a teacher?"
Her face almost looked angry. "I know I said that I was going to be a journalism major, but I'd been considering a teaching type of job for years and you could have told me all sorts of things about teaching."
"Right, and you told all of us that you were thinking about that, didn't you? Noooo, you almost never said a word about teaching, even when we were talking about majors, did you? Noooo, you were going into journalism you said. They wanted minorities and all that! But, I suppose I should ask why you are so interested, now?"
"Well, I've never had a real live teacher friend to talk to about this. I would have asked you loads of things if I had known."
"Bree, I'm a bartender with a few interests outside of that job. What you see is what you get! (OK, I was fibbing a little bit!) I wouldn't go back into a high school classroom for any amount of money. I like what I do, and who I do it with."
"Well thanks, I think. I didn't even know you had finished college. How much education have you done?"
She wasn't going to be happy about it, I thought. But if honest is the best policy I'd better tell her. "I've got undergraduate majors in Economics and History, and a Master's in History and a Master's of Business Administration."
"Oh My GOD! Mike Hanson has TWO MASTER'S DEGREES. Why didn't you tell us?"
"You didn't need to know! If I get all my drink orders right, what does it matter that I've got a couple of pieces of sheepskin? It's not something I go around bragging up. It's more important to my customers and you girls that I've passed bartending school. I tell a person that I work at the Infinitie and that gives me all the 'belonging' that I need. At least I think so."
"OK, but now that your secret is out, may I ask you questions about it" she asked eagerly?"
"Well, what kind of things do you want to know? Some things I may not be willing to talk about yet. And I won't talk to other people about it either."
"Why did you quit? If I want to think about being a teacher, I should know why a friend stopped doing what I think I might want to do. Don't you think so?"
"That makes sense. But remember, I didn't know you were still thinking about teaching until about 45 minutes ago. I can tell you why I quit, but the situation was a state away and 10 years ago. What I can tell you will not necessarily apply to anyone else. Don't base any decisions on what I can tell you, OK?"
"Well, I quit for a variety of reasons and I've thought about all of them a lot. They boiled down to three main things. Number 1 was the lack of support I got from my administration. I worked for three different principals and I never thought that any one of them recognized me as a person or supported me in any way that was important to me. They were all about themselves and/or the school as a whole. I didn't always think they were interested in the kids or the teachers in any kind of a personal way. They were just statistics to make the school look good."
"Number 2 was that I was tired of being blamed by parents for either what they weren't doing themselves or what their kids weren't doing. The parents didn't seem to realize that what they did at home had major and direct influences on how their kids did in school. They expected the teachers to do everything. I got tired of their unreasonable expectations."
"Number 3 was that I won a lottery and got enough money so that I didn't feel afraid to quit a fairly good paying job. So, I quit, moved to Las Vegas, went to bartending school, and here I am, tending bar like I want to do."
"You didn't like teaching then?"
"No, I didn't say that. I said that I didn't like what the parents and principals were or weren't doing. I loved teaching the kids. And I think that I did a good job of it. I just got tired of the politics of the work. I've always gotten along with the people I work with so what I really did was to change bosses. I became more of my own boss. And I'm doing well enough that I could walk out of one bar and into another without too much difficulty."
About that time we got to The Hitchin' Post, a local restaurant that the tourists don't usually find. We parked and went in talking about our favorite food there and that got us to our table and through the ordering. But when we got set with those things she started up again about my 'former' career.
"So you wouldn't recommend teaching as a career, would you?"
"Bree, I told you not to take what I said as advice. I told you a little of what I experienced and how it affected me. I still have a lot of friends who stayed in teaching and are enjoying it. You have to make up your own mind. If you want to find out more you should take some of the education courses at the 'U' and maybe even student teach. That will help you make up your mind. But know before you start that it will take you away from Journalism and add another full year to your 'U' experience."
"OK, I understand all that. But if I want to talk about it some more will you be willing to?"
"Yes. But how about we change the subject now and talk about something else over lunch? Some of this old stuff gives me indigestion! And this old man wants to enjoy his lunch with a good looking young woman."
"Riiiight! So then, what did you think of Harold's tour?" She was good at switching the subject to something else even though she wouldn't let me do it.
And that's what we talked about for the next hour. Me, I was enjoying the food and the company. I didn't often get so spend one-on-one time with a young lady like Bree and I was eating it up, the food and the company.
About an hour later we left and I drove Bree back to her apartment. She refused to let me walk her up this time - mid-afternoon she said was not a dangerous time and she didn't need an escort. I agreed, but did stay and watch her walk up the sidewalk to the door. Who could ignore that little butt walking away with just the right amount of swing to it? Oh, before she left the truck she gave me a peck on the cheek along with her thank-you.
I went home. I went home happy.
I didn't see her until work, two mornings later when she came in behind the bar to drop off her handbag and greeted me with another buss on the cheek. I guess I looked at her kind of funny because she rolled her eyes, stuck out her tongue and said "What's wrong, bad morning?"
I sort of stuttered out something like "What's with the greeting this morning? That's never been done before!"
"Well, consider it some more thanks for Monday. For the tour date, and the heart-to-heart about teaching. I really did a lot of thinking yesterday, and I'm not done yet."
I guess that that meant we really had been on a date - I wasn't sure if it was one from her perspective, although I had certainly considered it one. I wasn't sure about the 'thinking' part and what I had to do with it.
We worked our usual shift, but in the odd off minutes she kept referring to teaching. I was glad she wasn't mentioning it around Ben and the other girls. I flat told her that I wouldn't talk about it at work. So, she insisted that I had to take her out to continue our discussions. I agreed and told her that I would pick her up at 7 that night. I'd take her to a 'nice' restaurant where we could talk as long as we wanted. She agreed, and I finished the shift thinking bad thoughts. Bad thoughts about discussing something that I wanted left behind me and also bad thoughts about a 50-year-old going around with 'romantic' ideas about a 25-year-old. "Fool!" is what I called myself.
And "Fool" is what I thought again as I walked up to her door to pick her up for dinner. I was dressed in Las Vegas casual - a dress shirt and slacks, without tie. She greeted me at the door dressed in a very pretty print dress with a strappy top that left her shoulders bare and also showed a fair amount of her very good looking legs. She was wearing short-heeled sandals, about 1 1/2 inches, I'd guess. The light color of her outfit was an excellent foil for her darker skin. I was very pleased with the apparent effort she had gone to look attractive, and was determined to show her a good time to match her effort.
Escorting her back to my car (not the truck this time) we discussed where we were going (back to the Infinitie) and the fact that I had more than one mode of transportation. I reminded her that I had won a lottery and had enough money to buy two cars (yeah, I was still hiding some of the truth).