Lesson learned the hard way: pool halls are creepy....even in the middle of the day.
Here's what happened.
Since I don't know the area as well as some of the other employees, and our 5k is just a few months away, I was asked to visit just the businesses on our street and hang up as many promotional flyers as I could. So there I was. Fully equipped with a box of colorful 5k flyers, a tape dispenser, a stapler, and extra staples. After stopping by the library, the grocery store, and a few gas stations, I parked my car outside of a strip mall. I figured I'd start at one end and work my way to the other.
Stop #1: Nail salon. Really nice people. Didn't know English. The conversation had sort of a Me-Tarzan-You-Jane ring to it. But, hey, I got my flyer hung.
Stop #2: Laundromat. No one cared, so I just left a flyer on top of the detergent dispenser.
Stop #3: I'm on a roll now. No one's said 'no' to me, and I am getting this 5k pro-mo-TED! As I open the door, I briefly glimpse the sign: "Smokehouse and Saloon." Isn't that cute? I think to myself. Maybe it has a Western theme.
I swing open the door, and before my eyes have a chance to adjust to the darkly lit room, I am smacked in the face by a wall of alcoholic, cigarette, smoke-infused air. I reel back slightly and blink several times.
Have you seen the movie Enchanted? Where the cartoon Disney princess finds herself turned into a real human in New York City? She climbs out of a manhole in the middle of Times Square wearing a giant prom dress, glitter falling out of her hair, hands posed gracefully like a Barbie doll's, eyes wide and bewildered. That's how I felt.
The first thing I see are two pool tables in the corner, then the bar, the tables, and then the people. This room is full of men. Only men! All between the ages of 35 and 70, all with mustaches, hats, sunglasses, beers. And, I'm not kidding you, from the pool tables, the bar stools, the corner booths, they all turn slowly and look at me, and the room seems to get very quiet. There must be 30 or 40 of them. I hold my breath, unsure of what to say or do. My instinct is to yank open the door and run back to the safety of the Nail Salon (never thought I'd say that sentence). I hear the word "girl" whispered more than once.
From the back room, the bartender, a woman (thank ya, Lord) comes out in a too-tight-for-her-age black tank top, bleached hair, dangly earrings, long fingernails. "What can I do for you, sweetie?"
I try to look perfectly comfortable and natural walking up to the bar in my flowery skirt and little bows on my shoes. There are eyes all over me. My voice sounds tiny and it echoes. "I'm with a non-profit organization down the street? and we're having a 5k in September to raise money. I was just wondering if there was a place I could hang up this flyer." I swallow. She blinks a few times before calling the "owner" from the back room. A woman who looks to be in her 70's, also with a tank top, short shorts, bleached hair, eyeshadow up to her brows. I ask her the same question, and she takes my flyer and says she'll tape it to the front window. I turn and walk out the door, still feeling the eyes. "Thank you. Have a nice day!"
I realize I'm being a little dramatic, and I'm sure I was never in any real danger. But still. Wouldn't you have felt the same way?
From now on, I'll stick to hanging my flyers in dentist offices and insurance companies.