Oregon Tavern Age: MIA

I stepped inside the Gladstone Card Room. A cluster of OTAs loudly held court around a round table in the middle of the room. One stood. One was barely standing. The other sat in a wheelchair. They were all hitting it hard with cheap beers and shots of something brown.

It was three in the afternoon on a weekday. I sat on a stool at the bar. A friend was meeting me to catch up on life. A sign over the liquor offerings announced Gina as my bartender.

Gina wasn’t anywhere around.

Music played. Sports played. An OTA played a slot machine.

I waited for five minutes. No Gina. I stood up to see if she was in the kitchen. She wasn’t. I roamed around and inspected the photographs of the joint’s Hall of Fame Dead OTAs and the various fliers promoting the celebrations of life.

Still no Gina.

An OTA man came up behind me and fed a jukebox. Another OTA man, three stools away, sipped a coke. No one said a word to me about Gina’s prolonged absence. They didn’t care.

The Card Room was obviously a fan of Oregon State University because there was a lot of beaver football memorabilia and promotions hanging from the walls. I kind of liked it. I always prefer OSU Beavers-themed dives to UO Ducks-themed dives. Why? I like beavers more than ducks and I loathe Phil Knight and his support of crackpot Oregon politicians.

I got up again to check out the smoke shack, thinking Gina might be out there puffing or vaping away.

No Gina. Just two OTAs and a young couple in OTA training.

Fifteen minutes elapsed. Gina didn’t appear and neither did my friend. I now can’t recall what I thought about as I waited. Most likely nothing interesting.

I left the Card Room. In all my years of hanging out in OTA country, this MIA bartender was a first. I wondered what Gina was all about. Her utter indifference might have been charming. I’ve known a couple of female OTA bartenders like that. Their not-giving-a-shit is delightful.

I sat down on a bench outside the joint. I waited another 15 minutes for my friend. He never showed. I wasn’t upset at all. I didn’t feel like talking anyway.