Favorite White Trash Moments #4

4. Place: Trailways Bus Station, 1500 Jackson Street, downtown Dallas. One summer of working there filled me with bizarre and humorous memories for a lifetime. Like my dad, I mainly loaded and unloaded baggage and freight from the buses, among many lesser, jack-of-all-trades tasks.

A balding, bespectacled and obviously frazzled fellow of about 45-50 got off the bus I was loading and walked in a huff to my co-worker Claude. Claude was about this passenger’s age and looked every bit like the supervisor that he really wasn’t. The guy claimed I had thrown his bags under the bus and was trying to break them.

This ticked me off. It was an affront to my professional integrity as someone who did his duty and did it well…perhaps, too well for my own good.

I was supposed to arrange the freight and luggage in the right order under those buses, as effeciently and tightly as possible to conserve space. As with all my jobs, I took it seriously (some might say, to an extreme). Unlike most fellow “baggage agents,” I did not throw the luggage! Instead I got quite talented at examining a cart of freight and bags to be loaded, quickly visualizing the optimal arrangement and then building that conceptual masterpiece of accomplishment: all items very tightly stuffed together with a leaden, almost impermeable adhesion. I did so, first, to see how much I could fit in the smallest possible spaces for conservation’s sake, and second, so that my colleagues in Houston, Shreveport or Oklahoma City would have a really fun time prying them out. Others smashed ’em, I simply mashed ’em. This little “jam the camel through the needle’s eye” method required a deliberate strategy to placing the bags, certainly not involving throwing them!

Claude was one of the masters of jive talk in that place and a ceaseless BS artist, but decided this time that he wasn’t going to take any of it. He asked the fellow, “Which ones are your bags, mistuh?”, and with a good measure of effort and strain, pried one of them loose from its compressionally cemented moorings. Picking up the suitcase and pointing at me, Claude asked, “Did he th’ow this bag?” The irate but mistaken passenger’s response: an abrupt, self-convinced “Yes!”.

Claude said, “You mean, like this?,” then hurled the suitcase entirely across the cargo compartment of the bus. The luggage struck the opposite side with a loud bang, then ricocheted in spinning fashion for another five or six feet back along the undercarriage floor, bouncing off a trunk or two along the way. Feeling the bumping commotion beneath their floor, a few previously oblivious passengers looked down with befuddlement from their window seats.

The guy aimed the most surprised look at us, his mouth open, eyebrows raised seemingly halfway up his shiny little scalp, his forehead furrowed like a badly plowed farm field. The look quickly turned to red-faced disgust when Claude then yelled, top volume, “Now get your a__ back on that God____ bus!”

My work ethic was regarded impeccably there, and I knew immediately that this incident wasn’t going to get me in trouble, despite my chuckling and grinning at the spontaneous hilarity of it all. There were dozens of stunned witnesses to Claude’s volcanic outburst, and he was the one who would have to answer for it. So I just stood there scratching my butt (or some such) for a minute or two, before continuing to jam freight and baggage together into something resembling the density of Betelgeuse‘s inner core.

As for the passenger, he did climb onboard without further incident; and as far as I know, Claude never did get that promotion to the Trailways PR department.


One Response to “Favorite White Trash Moments #4”

  1. WXGiblet on April 25th, 2005 8:43 pm

    Ah, the advantages of holding the unappreciative public’s Canoga’s in one’s grasp! Reminds me of the time, while working as a ticket agent for a major (and, for obvious reasons, one that will remain unnamed) airline at O’Hare Field in the early 1970’s. Some moron stormed up to my position reading ME the Riot Act, ‘cause the idiot missed his 5 PM departure to La Guardia due to traffic on the Kennedy Expressway. After bearing the brunt of his belligerent and personal attack for 4-5 minutes and reluctantly booking him on the next available flight (and following HIS departure from MY position), I placed the “COUNTER CLOSED” sign up momentarily, took out the Official Airline Guide, found a perfect connection through JFK to Rome, ripped the previously placed LGA tag from his bag (which I had hidden next to me behind the counter), wrote up the new tag, placed it on his bag and carefully placed his now Rome-destined luggage carefully on the conveyor belt. As I watched it disappear on its way to the Bag Room downstairs, I suddenly felt incredibly reenergized. As the saying goes, “Don’t piss off the Chef.” Year’s later, I watched a “Seinfeld” episode where a Skycap did the same thing to a rude Elaine. As far as I’m concerned, they stole the plot from me!

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