Pinned down

Denise Palmer

Photo By Tom Angel

Aside from a certain problem with the shoes, Denise Palmer has one of the best jobs in town. Unlike most people who hang out in the air-conditioned comfort of the bowling alley all day (AMF Orchard Lanes on the Esplanade), Palmer gets paid to be there.

What do you do here?

Control the flow of people, where they go, which leagues go on the floor. Do shoes.

Is that your favorite part of the job?

No. They stink.

Do you spray that stuff in them?

Yeah. It’s really strong.

Do people ever come in with really ragged shoes that you don’t even want to touch?

Oh yeah. We have people that don’t wear socks, and then they wear the shoes and their feet stink really bad. I just kind of grab a pencil and [motions picking up a shoe with a pencil].

Do you enjoy the sounds of the bowling alley?

Yeah. I’ve been here over five years. If a machine does something I can hear what it’s doing without looking.

Who are your favorite customers?

My seniors—they’re bowling right now. They can be [fun], but they can be really grumpy too.

Do you have one thing that happened while you were working here that sticks out in your mind?

Well, I’ve had somebody drop dead on me. Yeah. We were bowling down at about 9 or 10 [a.m.], before we even opened. We had an employee league, and he had a heart attack right then and there. I freaked and called 911, and I pretty much freaked the rest of the day.

Was he an avid bowler?

Oh yeah, bowled all the time.

So maybe that was kind of like a good way for him to go.

Oh yeah, definitely. A pretty good way to go. We have people fall down, you know, and break a leg. Somebody the other day—I wasn’t here—but somebody put a bowling bag behind him and he turned around and just went “boom!” and knocked himself out.

I didn’t know bowling was so dangerous.

[Laughs.] Just if you don’t pay attention.