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  • Jacqueline Druga

Taking a Cut

I am totally convinced that it’s Dante.

For the past week I have worked alone and the hotel has been quiet. Well, not quiet but not as funny,

Tonight Dante showed up, he is moving into a new apartment down the road and since he was taking days off he wanted to get some hours.

Sure, why not. Should be interesting.

Let’s stop and back track. If you recall, my last blog was all about miscommunication.

I inadvertently misled a ‘working girl’ to believe that I too was a working girl and not wanting to appear dumb, I didn’t correct the situation. Her ‘manager’ shows up and wants to know who I work for. You remember all this right? Well, sadly, I kind of sort of told him it was Dante.


It doesn’t stop there.

I didn’t think too much of it until my daughter read my blog and was like, “Mom! If her manager came up and wanted to know about Dante, that can be dangerous. He thinks Dante is working his area and taking money from him.”

Not really wanting to know how my daughter knows so much about working girls and their managers, I started to worry. But since I hadn’t heard news of Dante getting beat up, shot or missing, I figured all was okay.

But I had to know

“So, uh, hey, Dante,” I was pretty sly about it. Dante was unpacking our Mom and Pops.

Now what is our Mom and Pops?

Him and I have this little cart. We stock it with sodas, snacks,, chips, ramen noodles., everything they have in the vending machine, but we undercut the price. It’s a nifty little racket, it doesn’t net us much, about forty a week for us to split.

So he’s unpacking the items, totally excited about the new flavors of ramen noodles.

“My kids would love these.”

“I wish you wouldn’t say that.”

“Say what?” Dante asked. “That my kids would love these? They would. I tried to send a case of them to the kids but the organization sent them right back.”

“Well, that doesn’t make sense. I mean they’re supposed to be starving children.”


Yeah, he called me woman.

“My children are not starving. I send my support.”

“Okay, whatever anyhow did, I don’t know, anything strange happen this week?” I asked.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, like any thugs come into the hotel looking for you?”

Dante laughed. “Now why would that happen?”

I just shrugged.

I grabbed our cart and money box and proceed to stock it in the back room behind the front desk.

I didn’t put two and two together (You’ll have that with me and now obviously Dante), the Pimp and miscommunication happened on a Thursday and just like Malaki is our Wednesday night regular, TamTam is our Thursday regular.

I heard Dante say, “Can I help you?” and I looked up to the monitor to see Tommy Luv at the front desk.


Immediately I start that back and forth pacing. Do I call the police? No, they won’t help. Then I started fearing Dante was gonna get shot, so I wondered do I go in the dryer, which by the way is my plan in case there is ever an active shooter.

Yeah, I’m small enough to fit in that dryer, toss a sheet over me, I’m good.

Then I started feeling bad. I could easily stop this. Dante was blissfully unaware, standing there at the desk, staring at Tommy Luv, while trying to inconspicuously hike up his pants because they keep falling down.

‘I got this,” I thought, and I headed out front.

“There’s your girl,” Tommy said when I walked out.

“Yep, that’s her,” Dante replied.

“So I hear you’re running a side business out of this hotel?” Tommy Luv asked.

“Dante,” I said. “Look I …”

“We are.” Dante cut me off. “Not much. Why?”


What the hell was Dante talking about.

“This is my territory,” Tommy said, “Doing business here can bring you trouble.”

“Well, it’s against company policy, I know,” Dante said. “But we don’t make much. Just a few sales a night.”

“A few sales a night takes away from me,” Tommy said.

Dante’s eyes widened. “Wait. Are you the main guy for the vending?”

“Call it what you want, but yes,”



“I am so sorry. We really don’t take much from you,” Dante said. “Do we Jack?”

That was when it hit me. Dante thought Tommy was talking about our Mom and Pops.

“Um no, not at all,” I said.

“You wanna run shop here. Fine. I want my cut. If I don’t get my cut, a whole world of trouble is gonna come down on you.”

Okay .. stop. He was a lot more brash and vulgar in his wording, but to keep it PG 13, I paraphrased.

Dante froze and immediately grabbed me arm, dragging me to the back room. He whipped out the cash box and whispered. “I do not want to lose my job over this., He’ll go to corporate. Give him what he wants until we work this out.”

“Look, Dante …” I tried to tell him what was going on, but before I could, he grabbed a hand full of cash from the box and flew back to the front desk.

“Here.” Dante said. “That’s all we have. It’s like twenty bucks.”

“That’s it?”

“It was slow this week.”

“You need to start charging more,” Tommy said. “I’ll be back. And …” he looked around. “I may even send business your way.”

“Oh, that is really nice of you,”: Dante said. “Thank you. Thank you so much. And I am on Sunday nights. I work that night.”

You work too.”

“Absolutely,” Dante nodded. “I’ll be here. Send them my way. I’ll hook them up.”

“That’s good to know that you work too. I will.”

“And keep in mind, busy season is coming so things will pick up!” Dante said loudly as Tommy shoved the various bills in his pocket and walked out.

Once he was gone, Dante, nearly dropped to his knees and grabbed the counter with a loud exhale. “Oh my God. That was close. Do you think he’ll really send people our way?”

I just shook my head and shrugged, then went back to stocking our Mom and Pop Cart, leaving Dante alone at the front desk. I don’t work Sunday, and I wonder if Tommy will really send people Dante’s way. If he does, I’m sure I’ll hear about it when they don’t just want to buy a pack of Ramen noodles and a Pepsi.

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