To get the full extent of my excellent New Year’s Eve, we have to go to back to the eve of NYE.
We were pretty busy on Friday night and we expected to be even busier for NYE. We had reservations to fill the restaurant for most of the night and I was scheduled to work open to close. I went home and noticed a new flashing sign at the top of the Rim warning of elk crossing the highway for the next 5 miles.
For the last several weeks I have seen dead elk on the highway at the bottom of the Rim. It’s a blind corner with meadows on both sides and drivers can’t see the elk until they are right on top of them. By then it’s too late to do anything but let Jesus take the wheel and hope you get out alive with minimal damage. Elk are large. Deer do plenty of damage, but an elk can be a deal breaker. Last winter I came around the corner and ended up in the middle of a herd of about 20 elk and somehow managed to come out without hitting anything. I did have to pry the steering wheel from my hands and pull the seat cover from my ass crack though.
Friday night I did what any responsible adult scheduled to work the entire next day would do: I was in bed by 11, turned the TV off by midnight…and stared at the ceiling until sometime around 5 in the morning. I listened to the wind howl and the snow hit the side of the house all night. I wondered if I was going to make it to work. Would the van start? Would I be able to get out of the driveway? How bad was the road going to be? Should I give up on sleep all together and leave for work 3 hours early?
I got to work without incident and told everyone my goal was to make $200. My winter full day personal best total is $250, but I didn’t want to appear too greedy and jinx things. Things died down at around 8 pm so I clocked out at 8:30 and had dinner (salmon scampi, oh yeah) and a glass of wine while I waited for my last table to leave. I started packing things up at 9:30 when my last table showed no signs of leaving even though they paid their ticket at a little after 8 and we closed at 9. By the time I had all my crap gathered and my money counted, they started showing signs of leaving so I moseyed by their table to see if their tip took me to $200. My grand total for the day was $210 so I was pretty happy…
…until I looked at the schedule for the next two weeks and noticed that Pro Rodeo had switched one of my nights shifts for a day shift. That gives me 1 night, 1 full day and 2 day shifts. While the tip percentage on days is awesome, people don’t buy the things that run up a ticket total…bottles of wine, desserts, appetizers. More than the money is the principle. A few months ago one of the servers got into a bucket of trouble over drugs. At best she’s unreliable. She’s full of drama. If she’s not in jail, she’s fighting with her on/off boyfriend. Between her and one cook, it’s the Harribalsac all over again. She was bitching that she can’t make it working day shifts, so guess what. I now have the day shifts. Logically, I know Pro Rodeo doesn’t want her on days because if she can’t make it, everyone is screwed. Enough people work nights that it doesn’t matter if she shows up or not. Lunches are pretty consistent, therefore the money is pretty consistent. Thursday nights can be boom or bust. All this is logical and it’s a win/win for me and Pro Rodeo, but for some reason it irritated(s) the shit out of me and I feel I’m being punished for being drug/drama free and reliable.
I was still irritated when I stopped to buy cigarettes (I’m smoking less than a pack a week!). I was even more irritated when somehow I managed to slam the middle finger of my left hand in the door while I reached for my seat belt. I thought I might pass out in the gas station parking lot. After about 5 minutes the woozy passed and I noticed my passenger side high beam was out. I started driving home and decided two dim lights were better than one bright light.
Top speed was less than 55 mph since the highway was sheer ice and the wind was howling. I continued to stew about my schedule and whine about my hurt finger. I got to the halfway marker and decided I was never getting home at the speed I was driving. I wanted a hot bath, time with my dogs, some TV and bed. It was almost 10:30 and there was no way I was staying up until midnight…and really, fuck everyone. Fuck my finger, fuck the schedule, fuck being reliable, fuck people who can’t show up for work, fuck, fuck, fuck…
What the hell?!
Oh fuck me! It’s an elk!
Okay, I missed it…SHIIIIT!!!!!
Yeah, I didn’t miss the second one. I don’t know if I even had time to brake. It wouldn’t have mattered since the road was as slick as an ice arena and the van turns into a gigantic skate on ice. I know I wasn’t going very fast, but fast enough to kill the elk and trash the front of my van. Something tells me the Game & Fish need to put up more signs since these elk were about 5 miles before the warning sign.
A LITTLE ‘HEAD’S UP’ WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE!
So now I have to decide what to do about the van. I paid $1500 for it 2 1/2 years ago and before the elk it was right on the cusp of fix it or fuck it. The wipers need fixed, the ignition doesn’t work when it’s cold (uh…can you say January in Wyoming?) the left passenger tire wears out about every 3 months, it leaks transmission fluid and oil, and it’s rusted almost through in places. I refuse to spend more than $2000 on a vehicle. I drive them ’til they have to be towed away, I suck at checking fluids, I haul 5 big assed dogs around, and more often than not my ride looks more like a dump truck than a passenger vehicle. I figured I would replace the van this summer, which would give me time to save up some money and find exactly what I want, but now I might not have a choice. Finding a cheap all wheel drive van with high clearance isn’t shaping up as an easy task.