Although Maria and I came to be great friends, the first time we met was an absolute fiasco. She stood roughly four feet ten, was blessed with strong Inca facial features, and spoke broken English with a heavy Nicaraguan accent. She did not seem to appreciate my slender five foot eight, in heels, stature, my red hair and blue eyes.
“You over dere!”, she nodded toward toward BJ 8.
I had literally just got off the plane from England two days before, this was my first shift. I was extremely nervous. I was still just a kid. I dealt a few hands without incidence, and then shuffled the deck. For the last five years I had worked with a four deck shoe. As I held out the six decks to be cut, I squeezed the cards a little too tightly, they sprayed the players.
“What de matter? You don’t know how to shuffle?” She rolled her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m not used to holding six decks.” She rolled her eyes again, and reluctantly helped me pick up the cards.
I managed to last another thirty minutes or so, before having another trivial mishap. In England the dealer does not take a hold card, the second card comes directly from the deck. I had remembered this so far, but habit had kicked in, and when I got to my hand this one particular time, lo and behold, I had no hold card.
“I don’t beleef you!” she said, as though I had just murdered the Pope. She allowed the players who didn’t want to play out the hand, to pick up their bets.
Fifteen minutes later, I received my first tip, ever!!! Tips were illegal in England when I worked there. I proudly tapped my ten bucks on the rack, and for whatever reason. I dropped it in the drop box! Realizing what I had done, I called Maria over, and explained my mistake. In hindsight, I should have kept my mouth shut.
“What are you, stooopid?” she yelled at me, in front of all the players. “I’m gonna tell all de dealers here dat you don’t know what de hell you’re doing!” That, kinda pissed me off! Who the hell was this bitch talking to? I was a little tired of this midget devil.
The next incident, was one of my own design. I drew twenty-two to my own hand, busting. Instead of paying everyone. I quickly picked up all their bets, and grabbed the cards, making sure to mix ‘em up a little before throwing them in the discard rack. Sure enough, one of the players said;
“You had twenty-two!”
“Oh, did I?” I smiled sheepishly. “Oh Maria!”
She thundered over to my game. I explained that the player on box seven thought I had bust, and I had picked up everyone’s bet. She needed to back up the cards. Good luck with that!
“What did you have?” she asked.
“I don’t remember.” I said flatly.
She tried to assemble my hand. The players all informed her that those weren’t my cards. So she tried to give back the money. She pointed to the first hand.
“What was the bet?”
“I don’t remember.” She set him up for whatever he claimed he had. She went to the second hand.
“What was the bet?”
“I don’t remember.” I shrugged. This went on around the table.
“You don’t know what any of the bets were?” She scowled at me.
“I guess I’m too stooopid.” I mimicked her. “I hope I don’t do that all night.”
She looked me in the eye, and we both knew right then, that we were either going to play nice, or play nasty. I can be quite good at nasty.
It was quite a pleasant shift after that.