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Puerto Rican Strippers
An Epic Early 1980s When Your Job Sucks!
In 1982 I was training new clerks for a supermarket night crew. The strange thing about this was that half of these guys were twice my age—some older. There were lifetime jailbirds, finally no longer dangerous in middle age. There were construction workers who had beaten up their boss. And there were truck drivers, who either had failing bladders or had eaten so much speed they couldn’t sit still any more.
I figured Rudolph to be one of the latter. As we were working in the aisle, I asked him what most in his crestfallen position had offered, the reason for his settling for a $5 per hour job working harder than he had before, being bossed by some 19-year-old twerp.
He looked at me and Ian—the black ex-marine—and asked, “You guys promise not to laugh, right?”
Ian and I assured him that mirth was not on the menu and he told us his story, the words of which have fled my brain pan, but the plot of which is etched forever in my frontal lobe.
Rudolph had a drinking problem. One more DWI and he was out of a job. He drove a car carrier. He was taking a carrier loaded with cars [about 20, though I can’t recall exactly], through New York and up into Connecticut. He had been given a sum of money that was adequate to lodge and feed him overnight in a comfortable suburban hotel.
However, Rudolph had one weakness beside alcohol, Puerto Rican girls!
Ian was in agreement that Rudolph was on his way to telling a grand tale of, well, the only thing that mattered to Ian—tail.
Rudolph could afford, with his motel fee, to buy a bottle of Bacardi, rent a room in a dive hotel in Spanish Harlem, and go to a strip club and procure high quality Puerto Rican companionship!
The man was a genius, Ian decaled, “workin’ the Man fo all his ass is worth!”
I recall the funniest thing about this story, being that Ian, warned in advance that it was a tale of dire results which had deposited Rudolph right there onto that milk crate sorting canned goods next to Ian—just as his recent prison stay had deposited him on an identical pauper’s stool—was following the story of Rudolph’s Puerto Rican tryst with wide-eyed innocence, certain there was a good ending!
Rudolph, being so pained by his experience that he seemed to want to postpone the punch line as long as possible, assured Ian that the rum was oh so good, the babe oh so fine, the hotel not completely rat-infested…
Then, after some time, with Ian grinning big-toothed and wide-eyed on the milk crate next to him, Rudolph told of his waking up alone, his wallet gone, and running outside in a panic pulling on his shirt, only to stand in front of a car carrier that carried nothing but frames. Not a tire, not a moving part—not even the mufflers—of the 20 or so domestic sports cars [Mustang, Charger or Trans Am, I cannot recall] remained attached to the car skeletons.
Ian reacted as if punched, leaned back on his crate, and hit the floor.
I stood there dumfounded.
And so Rudolph became a grocery clerk at 40-and-change.
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