Sunday, August 17, 2008

"We must all suffer one of two things; the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment"--Jim Rohn

"Make the most of your regret deeply is to live afresh"--Henry David Thoreau

My eyes snap open and it is 7:38am by the clock next to the TV in my living room. I have been asleep for three hours--an amount of slumber that a few years ago would have been plenty but recently has proven woefully lacking. I'm not surprised to find myself still in the living room--I have a very comfortable couch and it is a wonder that I ever get off of it and do anything. What surprises me is that I'm up--my alarm won't begin to blare for another hour [once home from work, I set my alarm and make sure it travels from room to room with me--crashing at my desk, on my couch, or even in springtime or fall on my outside deck is not unheard of].

Not wanting to waste the rare opportunity to be ahead of the game for once, I gingerly rise from the couch, steeling myself against the familiar shooting pains that are to be expected after four years of brutal high school athletics, several summers of the most grueling menial labor imaginable, and twenty plus years of roaming restaurants in what amounts to a ten or fifteen mile nightly powerwalk.

No pain. No stiffness. No immediate thought of, "'I'm too old for this shit". It occured to me later that I was probably dreaming of something I actually WANTED to do and that the subconscious excitement and adrenalin had not only wakened me, but turned the clock back on my broken body by a decade or so. Walking to the kitchen for my inaugural diet soda of the day I tried in my mind to set a plan of attack for the day ahead, and got the most interesting response from my now conscious mind.

The first image that came to mind was my flying south on the interstate for two hours to a wonderful chunk of land I have owned for three years but only seen once in person for about ten minutes. Secluded and wooded with wetland and a natural spring--perfect for the hermit I hope one day to become. My eventual plans are to install a bauhaus-style prefab on a clearing in the middle of the property, but this morning all I could think of was motoring on down there and sitting on a blanket and reading a book or two. The drive itself was certainly part of the allure--my car has well more than 500 horsepower but hardly ever leaves the city and gets to stretch its legs--but mostly the plan shone in its perfect non-workness. It was so far removed from my daily grind as to seem utterly radical by comparison.

If this particular day was one of those rare days that was supposed to be a day off for me I have no doubt I would have been on the road ten minutes later, but alas it was not to be.

Pushing aside the fantasy of a road trip I again concentrate on a day's program, only to be greeted with a mind's eye image of being greeted at McCarren Airport by a driver from the Bellagio and my casino host. Now, I'm not the hugest gambler, but I'm pretty good at it, which means my average bets are high and my table time is also high. As a result I'm well rated , but more important I think is the fact that I'm not an unbearable, arrogant prick--my attitude probably doesn't matter to the hotel itself but it clearly matters to the hosts and all the other staffmembers who appreciate courtesy and gratuity. As a result, coming to Bellagio for me is like going to Disney World for a little kid--it never gets old or loses its luster. I love, absolutely love Las Vegas--the physical place itself is so unlike anything I have ever experienced before that I don't think I could ever live there and feel comfortable, but that didn't stop me from spending two hours with a hotel-recommended realtor the last time I was there.

I see it all--short flight to Vegas, courtesy Bentley to the hotel, right up to a penthouse suite or even a villa if no real high rollers are in town [Vegas is having their worst summer in 30 years], then back down to the floor for poker and blackjack--maybe even that WPT casino poker table game that I have recently taken a shine to--it is so real in my mind that I can taste it--but that, of course, won't work either.

By now I'm out of the shower and as my fantasies fade, so does my physical comfort. In an odd reversal of morning routine, I am actually starting to stiffen up after my hot shower just when I would ordinarily be starting to loosen, and I'm also starting to think seriously about the regrettably real day ahead of me. As reality sets in I see the real me, like Dorian Gray once the portrait is burned--I am the guy who keeps an old, expensive restaurant running profitably in the worst restaurant economy in a generation. The guy who's sales are flat when everyone else's are down 20, 30 or 40%. The guy who still pays the bills for the company's seafood restaurant [a third, more casual American restaurant we own, heretofor unmentioned, has closed to be reconcepted--we own the building its in and are trying to find the best possible idea for this new economy]. I'm the guy who still plunges toilets, changes bulbs, mops floors, and writes schedules.

I'm the guy who tried to quit two months ago, only to be told that if I did, my employer would most likely cash out--sell his two other freestanders for land value and sell this landmark restaurant to the highest bidder, most likely a chain dying for the location. Now, this wasn't a threat from him, this was just the truth--my boss is old and rich, and while he loves having his restaurants I am positive he does not want to even consider running them himself or going through the trouble of breaking in a new general--he would rather cash out and let the chips fall where they may.

When my boss and I had this meeting and he told me what he thought, I saw all the pink slips from our other two restaurants. I saw The Palm, The Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris, or Morton's taking the keys to this restaurant and inviting all of our employees to "reapply" for their positions, after the remodeling of course. I saw myself regretting giving up the job that I usually spend most of my time regretting ever having taken in the first place.

I think quickly about my beautiful land, I think quickly about my beloved Sin City, and then I stop thinking, 'cause its time to make the donuts...


Anonymous Frances said...

The thing is that, you don't need to go to the Sin City anymore since you could now play blackjack online as well as other casino games in various websites. You just need to pick a trusted and legitimate page since you'll need to register some personal information.

6:52 PM  

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