Monday, November 5, 2012

Blackjack: The beginning

I started dealing blackjack at Harvey's in Lake Tahoe.

 I was 21 and in a relationship I wasn't sure how to get out of. School just didn't seem to be working the way I wanted. I was bar tending at El Torito in Stockton and not really sure what to do next. My cousin was living in Chico and every summer she moved to Lake Tahoe to deal cards. She called me and told me they were having a hiring fair at Chico State and I needed to come.

That is how casinos staff during the busy season. College students are on summer break, need cash and, return to school at the end of the season. 

I however was not a student at Chico State. I'm not gonna say I lied ( in truth I don't remember) but I'm sure I bent the truth to get my foot in the door. My manager at El Torito loved me and told me to take the summer and my position would be waiting for me when I got back. I wish I had gone back to tell him how grateful I was for that. It's not often in life that people make you feel valuable in a job. But he did.

So off to Tahoe I went with my car packed. I had never lived away from home. I didn't know anyone except my cousin. All I knew was that I was going to be living in a 4 bedroom condo with 7 other people.....yeah that freaked me out too. I met up with my cousin and we went to see our temporary home. When we got there one of our roommates was already there and had claimed the room she wanted. The master bedroom with the walk in closet of course. My cousin wanted the same room. So her compromise was to ditch me for a walk in closet.

 I smiled and said that it was no problem...but it hurt my feelings.

 I didn't know anyone and was more sheltered than I realized at the time. When the rest of our house mates got there the only option was for me to share a room with a guy. Now he is genuinely a great guy and in the end I liked getting to know him. But I was completely pissed at the time. I didn't know how my boyfriend would feel. I didn't know if this guy was creepy or a jerk. We made the best of an awkward situation for the summer. It helped that he was in my blackjack class.

Blackjack school was no fun for me. It was harder than I thought and I didn't think I was actually gonna pass. On our first day our trainer told us that any monkey could deal blackjack. It became obvious that I was not the right kind of monkey. But we passed and toasted to our completion...and kept toasting...and kept toasting. Lets just say there was A LOT of drinking involved in that summer. Far more drinking than I had ever done before...(unless you count Mardi Gras 2000, but that's another post)

It was a great summer! We'd get off work and go to Lakeside for dollar drinks.There were always other dealers there talking about the night. Those nights are easiest to describe with a few phrases ...

EVERY MONDAY AT NERO'S,WET WOODY WEDNESDAY, BOOZE CRUISE, $5 MUG NIGHTS, RUM RUNNER'S AT THE BEACON.

But the summer ended and all of my friends had college to go back to. I didn't....when the casino asked me what I was doing next I asked to stay. I moved into a new house full of strangers, but this time I wasn't scared. I never went home or back to my old room.

I tried sushi, snowboarding, naked sun bathing, kissed a girl or 2, life without T.V., being a vegetarian, hiking, dark beers, quietness....



 I don't think I found myself. But I found out that I didn't know myself. 


I stayed in Lake Tahoe for 3 years. I used to wonder often if I made a mistake moving back. Those first months home I went nuts and totally thought I made a mistake. But I had to leave to make it here. Moose is napping, the girls are playing in their room and Micah sitting behind me. Funny enough if I had never learned blackjack in Tahoe, I would never have worked at Feather Falls. Which is where I met my husband.


So blackjack gave me the life I have...I guess I was the right type of monkey after all.