Welcome to our new Amuse-Bouche occasional series, À La Carte. This is a curated series featuring short pieces that engage with one aspect of our mission. Here we publish work by writers from underrepresented or historically misrepresented communities, and/or writing that highlights issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. Please enjoy. ~The Editors
People Going to Work
The summer I worked at the casino pool, we took shuttles to and from the employee entrance. We were not allowed to park on property, only at a parking lot on the other side of the highway that added forty minutes, unpaid, to our workday. Sometimes in the mornings if I was groggy, or hung over from two-for-one margaritas from the Paradise Cantina, I walked onto the shuttle first without letting graveyard out. I weaved through them down the aisle, sunglasses on, somewhat ashamed yet inoculated to their glares. They were too tired to be annoyed; their bodies so out of synch with the rhythm of the day that even they were resigned to their invisibility. I watched them stumble toward their cars in purple bowties and vests, navy cocktail dresses, squinting toward the bright light of their nighttime.
If I left early or was cut anywhere near five, the line for the shuttle weaved beyond the bus shed, out through the employee entrance and overflowed into the valet area where guests arrived. Back of house was not supposed to be seen there.
No one on vacation wants to witness people going to work.
The line was longest during that hour because of housekeeping. They filled the shuttles with their black and gray uniforms, their surveillance-approved clear bags that exposed their belongings to the cameras—car keys, hairbrushes, tampons, receipts, bags of pretzels from the employee dining room. I was a seasonal worker, would not be around long enough to invest in a flimsy, see-through purse that was the staple of female casino workers.
Even though I was sunburnt, tired from lugging ice and complimentary water in a hundred-and-ten-degree temperatures, I remember that housekeeping conversation across the shuttle because it was rare when they happened in English.
“There were limes everywhere,” one said. “Not just on the floor. I mean everywhere.”
“Limes?” the other asked. “Whole limes?”
“Yes. Wrung-out. Half-bitten. They were tucked down between the sheets. Limes in the toilet bowl. In the shower!”
The other giggled.
“I cleaned up maybe sixty wedges. That’s ten whole limes.”
“Can you order limes from In-Room Dining?”
“Just a bag of limes?”
“They must have. Unless they brought them.”
“I thought that, but there were no bottles. The trash was empty. Not one lime made it into the trash.”
“And they didn’t tip me. Not even a wedge in the envelope.”
“But when I was on my knees, scraping more limes out from under the bed, I found a quarter, and I kept it.”
She pointed to the silver nugget glinting through the front pocket of her plastic purse.