This petite A.C. rolling chair operator is no wilting Flower

ATLANTIC CITY - Battsetseg Khurelbaatar stood by her empty rolling chair in front of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino on a recent Friday afternoon.

It rained earlier that morning and would rain again later in the afternoon. The high temperatures only reached into the 70s. Khurelbaatar, who everyone calls Flower, expected many people to say no to her offer for a chair ride.

Khurelbaatar came to this country a little more than three months ago from Mongolia. But now, she knows the ins and outs of being a rolling chair operator here.

In a job men still dominate, Khurelbaatar, 23, survived her early days of adjusting to its physical demands - she only weighs 110 pounds and stands 5-feet, 1-inch tall - and lacking fluency in English to prefer this job to working in a restaurant or a hotel.

"My first day was difficult," Khurelbaatar said. "Three fat people, I took them from Hilton to Resorts ... I thought, 'How can I do it?'"

After Khurelbaatar's first two days, she convinced herself she could do it. She doesn't know how many miles she walks in a day, but her bulging calf muscles tell the tale. Khurelbaatar took the job partly because she wanted to improve her English. She has been studying English for four years and graduates next year from Mongolian State University of Education. She wants to teach English for a living.

"I'm not sure I'm better. Maybe, my friends and teachers will tell me. I'm trying hard to improve my English," Flower said.

As a female rolling-chair pusher, Khurelbaatar can't help but attract attention from men. She carries a separate cell phone just so her friends from Mongolia can text her, including her boyfriend.

"Some men ask if I have a boyfriend. They say I should find an American one. I would never agree with that," Khurelbaatar said.

Khurelbaatar's customers are always telling her she should find a different job. Women, especially, worry about her. Everybody thinks she does a man's job, and some men can't tell initially if she is a man or a woman.

"I like this job. I have no problems dealing with men. I'm not scared. That's why I can do the job," Khurelbaatar said.

If Khurelbaatar encounters any problems she can't handle, she knows to contact the police, the city's mercantile office, her fellow rolling chair pushers, or Ted Garry, the owner-operator of Royal Rolling Chairs, located here.

"Flower is a very, very nice person. It helps to get customers in a chair," Garry said.

By VINCENT JACKSON, Staff Writer of Press of Atlantic City Newspaper dated September 6, 2009

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