Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bring It On...I Heard That

So here I was, a junior at UT Dallas, when I got my first pair of hearing aids.  Yes, I had gone back to school, several semesters before meeting the folks at TRC (Texas Rehabilitation Commission).  As I mentioned before, these are the guys responsible for the funding of my first amplified hearing devices.

I headed back to school in 1998 when I realized that I couldn't babysit drunks forever.  Back then, I worked at a shabby little dive called J.R. Pockets, a hole in the wall pool hall where I witnessed grown men beating the crap out of each other, blood spurting across my bar from a throat slit just a few feet from my face, people pissing and puking on themselves, kids skipping school, and a whole bunch of things I won't say anything about.  Not a pretty sight, but I met some decent folks there and some real good friends.  And when I could slap 600 big ones into the bank on a Saturday morning, show up to work in cutoffs, flip-flops, spaghetti straps, and no bra, well, life was good.

I was working at JR's when I decided I wanted to be a teacher.  There was a group of teenagers that skipped school to play free pool at 2:00 every day; and, although I did call the truancy officer and the local high school on more than one occasion, it was one of the little girls that showed up almost daily that inspired me to return to my education and do something for kids like her.  I got to know her when she saw me reading literary classics behind the bar through a haze of stale cigarette smoke.  She wanted to bum a fag and a free coke; I said no to the cigarette and yes to the drink.  Then, she asked me if I knew anything about Ethan Fromm and it just so happened that I did.  So she brought her school work to the bar and each day I tutored her.  If she didn't pass the Senior English class she was currently failing, she wasn't going to graduate.  We made a deal; if she would go to class, I would help her pass.  I enrolled at NCTC that semester with the goal of becoming an English teacher and she passed with a B.

To fund my education, I picked up a second bartending job at a short lived college joint on the other side of town, Gooey Louies.  I worked 5 days at JRs, 3 nights at Gooey's, and fit in school on the nights I had off.  My hours were 10 AM-3 AM on the days I worked doubles.  And 10 AM-9 PM on school days; I always picked up a weekend shift at Gooey's as well.  I studied during the slow hours at JRs and I ended up taking everything NCTC offered towards my degree plan.  Finished up there with a 4.0, and yeah, I did it in mute.

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