Throwback Thursday: Angel In A Turban
As we rushed out though the smokey maze of the Casino at the old Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, it suddenly hit me that he had once again forgotten to give me my bonus. It stopped me in my tracks.
We had just finished a week-long, Estate Jewelry Show.
I was bone tired from being on my feet for over twelve hours a day – in heels.
I was hungry, and I was in NO mood.
We had grossed almost one million dollars – in a week, the two of us, and I was about to fly home empty-handed, once again.
I had a boss that hated to pay me. He just did.
No notes, or heartfelt talks, or bursts of anger on my part had done anything to change that.
I had lectured him on showing me respect, by paying me, and not making me ask for my money, which I HATED.
What would this be? The third time that day, I’d asked him for my money?
Then, since his bonus structure often consisted of whatever loose cash he had in his pocket, not his fat, overstuffed money clip—his pocket cash—I had finally gotten him to agree to a pre-set amount.
“Why are you stopping?” he yelled back, his aluminum wheelie suitcase, like a rectangular R2D2, skipping from wheel to wheel, trying to keep its balance.
I could’ve sworn it looked back in my direction with a “help me” face.
He continued his frantic march through the casino toward the door, not even turning around.
“I’d love to get my bonus before we leave?” I asked for the third time, knowing that if I let it slide for a day or two, the odds of getting it would become so slim, even a Vegas bookie would pass on that bet.
In one fluid motion, he made a sweeping, wide, right u-turn back in my direction, while he reached into his murse (man purse) and dumped a handful of gambling chips in my direction. Surprised, I reached with out with both hands in time to catch most of them, but watched several make a break for it, rolling on their sides with great momentum under the dollar slots nearby.
“That should cover it; now hurry, we don’t want to miss our plane.”
I stood there red faced and flabbergasted, then knowing I didn’t have any time to cash them in; I quickly shoved the chips in every pocket of my purse, and proceeded to get down on my hands and knees to see if I could retrieve the ones that had made their escape.
The pot-bellied, middle-aged woman, a cigarette with two inches of ash dangling precariously from her lipstick stained mouth; straddling two stools in front of three slot machines, never even looked up as her foot kicked the chips my way, like a bedroom slippered hockey stick. “Uh, thanks” I mumbled, crawling on the ground, totally in awe of her concentration.
“Janet, let’s go!” He bellowed from inside the automatic revolving glass exit doors and then turned right to join the cab line.
I could hear those damn plastic chip clinking together in my bag as I ran to catch my flight back to LA.
On the hour flight from Vegas, I started to seethe with rage.
Not only had he made me repeatedly ask him, he had virtually thrown poker chips at me in lieu of my bonus. I had never felt so disrespected In. My. Life.
I don’t know about you, but when I feel that level of anger, I cry.
I cried and cried and cried. Big, wet, sloppy tears.
I decided I would rather die than take the ride home to Park LaBrea with he and his wife. That was what we had prearranged, but, seriously, someone was going to die if I got in that car with him— and I wasn’t dressed to go to jail.
As we arrived at curbside, I saw his wife’s car to the left, so I made a beeline to the right and jumped into a cab that just happened to be waiting there in front of me.
The moment the door shut, I lost it.
I started to sob, like a little girl, gasping for breath, snot running down my face.
I felt trapped in a horrible working situation with no solution in sight. What do you do when you ask someone repeatedly to be treated with respect and they blatantly disregard that?
I couldn’t quit, I had the kind of career everyone wanted. Travel, great pay, jewelry, prestige. And I also had a lot of financial obligations, AND I was single.
Wahhhhhhhhhhhh. That just made me cry harder.
As we wound our way through the late night traffic on LaCienega, I could see the dark, soulful eyes of the cab driver, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
If I hadn’t guessed yet that he was from India, with his deep brown skin and white turban, his accent gave it away as he softly asked:
“Beautiful lady, why you cry?”
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, I’m just feeling so saaaaaaaad, I don’t know what to do.”
I could see his eyes searching my snot covered face in the rear view mirror.
“Beautiful lady, don’t be sad, it can’t be that bad,” he cooed in his soothing, heavily accented voice.
“Ohhhhhhh it is, I think I hate my boss…he doesn’t show me any respect…he paid me with”…I started to wail louder, “poker chiiiiiiiiiiiiips.”
For dramatic effect, I grabbed a couple out of my bag and threw them on the seat.
“Beautiful lady, you have God’s respect and that’s all that matters.”
The cab slowly came to a stop in front of my high-rise apartment building.
Since as I had cried the entire time, the ride home went so fast I had to scramble around to find my bag and scrounge for cab fare.
As I did that, the lovely turbaned cabbie grabbed my suitcase from the driver’s side backseat where I had launched it, opened my door, and wheeled my bag inside my building, depositing it in front of the elevator doors. When he returned to the cab, I had composed myself enough to hand him his fare.
“Here you go, thank you for being so kind to me” I said sheepishly through the tissue that was cleaning up my face.
“Oh no beautiful lady, you keep that. This ride is on me.”
And before I could argue with him or even thank him, he pulled away into the dark Los Angels night.
As I watched his tail lights fade into the distance, I realized a couple of things, and they gave me goosebumps.
They still do.
I never told him where I lived.
I just got in the cab and fell apart while he drove me home — to Park LaBrea, which is a labyrinth of apartments, turnabouts and one way streets. Even with the best directions from the back seat, many a cab driver has made a wrong turn and been spit back out onto Wilshire Boulevard.
There are ten high rises. How is it that he had he managed to navigate all the twists and turns and one way streets inside the complex to deposit me right at my door?
Miracle. Plain and simple.
When I finally managed to come out of my stupor and slowly walk inside to the elevator, I noticed he had propped the doors open with my bag and pushed the ninth floor button.
And THAT is the story of my Angel in a Turban.
Happy Throw Back Thursday loves!