Caution: This story contains foul language, specifically the words “motherfucker” and “poop” and, for my vegan friends, gratuitous reference to bacon. If you object to such language I suggest you- oops, sorry.
I got onboard the hotel van this morning at 4:00 AM central time in Cincinnati. The van was filled with sober and sedate pilots and flight attendants sitting silently, nodding off or looking at their phones as flight crew tend to do at 4:00 am.
The other four passengers were a group of exuberant, perhaps “lit up,” twenty-somethings who were just a little past the point of tolerable for this time of the day. I believe they had not so much gotten up early to catch their flight, as stayed up late to do so. The runt of the litter who we might call “Tiny” weighed 300 if he weighed a pound. They were all wearing flip flops, baggy shorts, and t-shirts that looked like they had been slept in (or passed-out in).
About five minutes after our scheduled van departure time, the fifth member of their group (the leader?) finally hove into view from the hotel lobby, climbed aboard, and plopped down practically in the lap of a very stern-looking United Captain who had already been tapping his watch for the last five minutes. “The Dude,” as he shall hereafter be called, was wearing the requisite flip flops, a dirty “wife beater” with some samples of last night’s meal on it (I would suspect poutine if we had been in Canada. Gravy, at least, was involved), and a pair of droopy shorts with what looked very much like poop smeared across the bottom.
The United Captain scowled relentlessly but the Dude, totally oblivious to this, jumped up, ran to the front of the bus, and started an impromptu rap performance which went as follows. His mates joined in immediately with beatbox sound effects:
“Four o’clock in the morning,
Motherfucker in the kitchen,
With a bulletproof
This, I had to concede, was better than I could come up with at 4:05 AM. I know I never would have thought to rhyme bacon and apron or even how to work “motherfucker” in effectively. Even the United captain couldn’t help chuckling at this.
Having apparently exhausted his repertoire with that simple, excellent verse, or feeling perhaps that nothing more was deserved by his thankless and unresponsive audience, the Dude resumed his seat. The United Captain, hoping to avoid another game of musical chairs grimaced and shrank back against the wall leaving the Dude an ample landing strip.
Noticing, perhaps for the first time, that we were all in uniform the Dude suddenly waxed philosophical about aerodynamics. He pestered the good Captain all the way to the airport about the unlikeliness that them “big jets” could really get off the ground. As we bid the group goodbye at the terminal, the Dude asked each of us, in turn, whether we planned to “hit the liquor store” after the flight which always sounds good in front of fifty passengers waiting in line. The last I saw of the Dude and his crew was at the TSA security checkpoint where they were being diverted into the private screening area (usually a bad sign). Godspeed, Dude! I have to admire anyone with that much energy at 4:00 in the morning (even if it is chemically induced).
The Embellishment: You may have wondered what aspect of this story I made up or exaggerated. As Garrison Keillor would say, this is a “true” story. The only made-up thing in it is the United Captain’s sour demeanor. He was, in fact, enchanted with the Dude and chatted with him enthusiastically all the way to the airport. Surprised?
by: Dustin Joy