Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Diary: I suck. Florida Reality Check, Perception and Poker Room Failure.

Last night/this morning around 3 am I found myself on the phone with dealer extraordinaire Tony Dick. This isn't altogether surprising, because for us, this is prime time for communication.  During the conversation we both talked about roommates, life, love and the hazards of working in the poker industry. I briefly entertained the idea of returning to normal hours, maybe working for a magazine in the city. Going in every day in a skirt, like I did for The Commercial Appeal, and talking to people about their feel-good news story and ad placement.

Yes, it can be that bad.

Or sitting in a city council meeting like I did for The Gam and penning relevant notes about change and public works. No longer surrounded by smoky haze, glittering lights and the ebb and flow of casino life. Where 3 am is no longer 2 pm, and food exists outside of plastic containers with tiny to-go condiments. Where 90% of my conversations wouldn't involve waxing philosophy over pre-flop odds and how many outs still remained before the river. My relationships would no longer begin with the words "What floor of the hotel are you staying on?" and my friendships wouldn't revolve around when I can make time to get to whatever city the friend in question is currently working in.

We laughed about the number of people we both know who have found stability and happiness, the home in the suburbs with the golden retriever, blissful happiness, monogamy and still managed a successful career working in poker full-time. The number in case you're wondering, is exactly zero.

Comes with free white picket fence!

Tuesday morning, I woke up in Florida. I was there on vacation, and a friend (who is also a poker friend, go figure) had gone with me.  We chatted about my inevitable return to work at this coming weekend, and I started crying. Literally throwing a 30-Year-Old temper tantrum because I can't find my groove in my current poker room. Where I'm still, after 4 months, being tested every single day by the staff and the regular players and I feel like I really don't fit in. This is uncharted territory for me. I do well in almost every job I've ever had (with the exception of Hallmark, but I was 16! Cut me some slack! I had boyfriend problems and a social life to worry about!). I really thought I would waltz into my current poker room, and continue being the rockstar I've always been. I'd wow them with my charm, and the guests would love me.

My next tattoo.  Only, maybe in blue. To match my eyes.

Only, it hasn't been that easy.  I've been the subject of gossip (vicious gossip at that), been reminded regularly of my incompetence and have been challenged on every thing I thought I knew. My boss, who is amazing, is aware of some of this and she's been a rock of support and encouragement.  I even sought other employment, applying for the WSOP in Vegas (I was among the few in my group to get hired, and enthusiastically at that). A girlfriend who runs a cardroom in Vegas offered to hire me after the series was over. A contact at the IP in Biloxi offered me a position down there. To sum up.. my pre-flop odds appeared good, and I still have a ton of outs.

The friend, who was with me in Florida, gave me a few reality checks during this trip.  Well, more than a few. I venture dangerously close to doing damage to our relationship by writing this, but I'm going to bank on the assumption that he doesn't have the attention span to read this far. Keep your fingers crossed for me. If you do read this far, don't take this out of context. I try to keep my writing honest, even when brutal, and I think it's relevant right now.

Why you gotta burst my bubble?!

He said that I worry too much about what other people think about me. He burst my bubble about my previous poker room (in which he is a regular player), and pointed out that there were people who talked bad about me there (I really didn't realize it was an epidemic). He was kind enough to add that poker players in general can act like babies, and that they're always going to be unhappy with the staff some of the time. That you can't please everyone all the time, and that it is the nature of the industry for people to want to be catered to, and bitch when a decision doesn't go in their favor. Ah, sweet sweet hospitality industry.

During the course of the trip, this same friend pointed out that my tone (notably on the phone), comes across unintentionally bitchy. That I appear to be more abrupt or condescending than I really am. He also noted that I like to get my way, I go over the top in being girly when getting ready to go out, and that I'm wrong about a lot of things. My ideas are rarely good ones and aren't always thought out to the level they should be. That the world doesn't revolve around me. Now, this sounds fairly mean, and I should specify that these gems of wisdom were sandwiched in between a lot of great and positive conversation. He wasn't being mean at all, just being honest. I don't hold it against him. Well, I shouldn't. But I felt pretty awful. I came home confused. Not that he feels this way, but because I know he's right about a lot of things. The root of a lot of these flaws is a compelling need to be liked.  Whether it's through humor or trying too hard, and the result is, when it doesn't work it's perceived far more negatively than I ever intended.

You can fill this out and mail this to Zoloft's corporate headquarters, to help better calculate my dosage. Thanks.

This friend is someone that I hold above just about everyone else. As a friend, I love the guy. Genuinely. And there have been times in the last couple of years..even recently, that I've even attempted to propel our relationship beyond friendship, because I feel so incredibly close to him. I mean, the guy makes me happy, what can I say? Women have this terrible habit of reading between the lines and painting a picture unique to our perspective. I've been guilty of it with this man. I've looked at what we have, the dynamic between us, and because I see him in such a flawless light (we've literally never had a real argument), I just naturally assumed he was on the same page. This week, I started listening. And really paying attention, instead of talking, for a change. The reality is, my perception is so unbelievably skewed, I'm in a different time zone. Maybe an alternate reality, even.

I'm way too self absorbed to invest in deciphering this scientific chart.

It made me wonder if my perception isn't also skewed when it comes to work.  The problem isn't with THEM, the problem is with ME. I have this concept in my head that I should fit in, I should be great at my job and I should be respected and/or adored. Because, more often than not, this is how it's gone. More importantly, that if something isn't going the way I believe it should be.. that I should seek other options.

On the way home from Florida, I thought about what I wanted.  And of these things that I want, what is realistic and what is selfish or fantasy based.

When I took my current job, I said I would give it a year.  One year to learn everything I can, and build my resume and open the largest list of options for the next move. I've justified looking at options to leave early because it hasn't been easy. If I went somewhere else, would it be easier? Probably. I can find a place where I fit like a glove. I'm a chameleon like that.

Instead, I'm going to commit whole heartedly to actually learning what I came here to learn. To worry less about pleasing everyone, and being liked by everyone, and instead focusing more on doing a good job and growing from the experience. I'm going to master those infinite floor calls, guest service to the point of pleasing even the most difficult souls. Most importantly, though I doubt I'll be able to win the friendships of most of the staff, I will earn their respect. If only because they can't run me off. I'm also going to exemplify the reasons I was brought on board. To bring my unique and creative approach to marketing, promotions and tournament design that I do so well.

I STILL think the world is prettier through these glasses.

And the friend?  I've taken off the rose-colored glasses (as my Dad referred to them).  Every single critical tid-bit he shared, not only increased my realization that I am far from the victim in any less-than-flawless scenario I might end up in, but that even in our own relationship.. Just because I perceive something to be a reality, doesn't make it so. I don't need to read between the lines, or try to get my way. Sometimes, things require hard work and perseverance.. a real investment of the brain, heart and time. And in some cases, it doesn't work out. You can't always please the difficult guest, be as adored as you think you deserve, be the favorite supervisor or even the perfect friend/girlfriend/daughter.  The key to it is knowing when you've done all you can do, and when to throw in the towel.

Bonus: Throwing in the towel means you don't have to wash it. Another flaw of mine, I fail at doing laundry.

My vacation was a reality check. It made me consider my family, my personal relationships and my career. To really evaluate which scenarios were causes worth abandoning and which ones were not. Funny how the answers aren't always what you want them to be, when you're being really honest with yourself.

I sent a letter to the WSOP staff in Vegas tonight, thanking them for the opportunity but respectfully declining their offer for this year, with hopes they will consider me for next year.  I called my girlfriend in Vegas last night and told her to put any plans for me to relocate on hold.  I'll be there, just not right this minute.  I have some work to do in Tunica.


1 comment:

  1. Talk about roommates, huh? About how awesome I am? Or about how I'm never there anymore? *pout* I will be there more often. I'll see ya soon. :)