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Thursday, May 19, 2011


I used to work for a bartending academy. Don't be overly impressed; it was just a space in an industrial complex, a business my boss had bought when he was between gigs, not something ivy-covered. He charged people two hundred dollars to learn how to make and serve mixed drinks. He also taught classes in casino dealing, because there were a number of Indian casinos about to open up in the area and they'd be in the market for people who could simultaneously deal cards and not steal. There were no classes in not stealing, though. I'm not sure it would have been right for him to teach such classes, given the Academy's poor graduate-to-job ratio.

My job had nothing to do with teaching. I was the secretary. I took the checks, made up the bank deposit, did follow-up calls with a script for students who had expressed interest but not given a commitment, answered the phone, read library books, and eventually went home before the actual classes began, four nights a week. Fridays were free and there were no day classes. There wasn't much money involved in it for me, which was OK at the time because I had alimony for my actual expenses.

My boss and his wife loved me. This was the second job with this couple. The alimony angle had tipped the scales in my favor both times, of course, but I tried not to give them any cause for regret. There was that time I called in late from a freeway pullout about forty-five miles from the office, on my way hone from Los Angeles. I was a call screener for his radio show and it was five minutes till showtime, but, you know, credit for trying. The bartender academy job hadn't presented any opportunity for that sort of thing. Plus his wife was as good at making up the bank deposits as it turned out she was at call screening. She could have done my job, except she was pretty busy home schooling their kids, and that took precedence. I was OK.

Until the day I discovered they were using real alcohol in the school bottles. Why would they do that? For one thing, how could they make any money? OK, sure, it wasn't really Maker's Mark, but it was skotch (not a typo), said so right on the bag. The half-empty bag that I found in the back, in an open box with my name on it. Then I was suddenly not OK.

[ten minutes]

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