Bob and Vinny: Good Old Boys

“Would the owner of a red…key-tar? Please come to the information desk in concourse C to reclaim your item.” The announcer’s skeptical voice and pause after “keytar” gave me a good laugh. The guy definitely learned something new that day. I swear sometimes they say the most absurd names or items to retrieve just for fun. There’s been a few instances where they’ve informed a particular confused traveler that they’ve gotten off at the wrong destination. “Attention Dale Crisp. Dale Crisp you are NOT in Phoenix. You are in Nashville. Dale Crisp you need to get back on flight 1746 to Phoenix.”

It’s been a hectic few weeks what with the spring breakers and many a conferences in town, which meant the pendulum of bullshit was in full swing. On the contrary, we had part of the French women’s soccer team in which was cool. They were decked out in turquoise windbreaker pants and jacket, clearly belonging to some sports club. They had just played at Nissan Stadium against our women’s soccer team in which they lost. We also had a woman who was dating a member of the band Fishbone who just got back from some Rancid and other assorted punk rock bands cruise. Sounded pretty wild. Titanic meets Warped Tour. I imagine there was a lot less slam dancing and moshing with this crowd. I mean I would think.

And then there was Bob and Vinny. Bob was an all torso no legs kinda guy. He rocked some XXL black Martial Arts hoodie with a seasoned five a clock shadow and thin wire glasses. He was probably in his 50s or so, not too old. He had an energy and general excitement that just made you want to interact with him. He was waiting for his business partner to fly in from New York City, and Bob had just gotten in from Los Angeles. He spoke in giddy excitement about Vinny, claiming he is the quintessential Italian New Yorker who very well could’ve been in a few Scorsese movies. “I’m tellin’ ya this guy is the real deal! If you close your eyes you’d think you’re watching Goodfellas I ain’t kiddin! He’s also blind. He can’t see worth a damn! Well, if the lights are bright enough he can see a little, but if it’s dark, forget it!”

I expected to see a man walk through the little makeshift tunnel with a walking stick and sunglasses, maybe a seeing eye dog. Instead Vinny emerged from the tunnel looking around like a regular sightseer, seeing Bob at the end of the bar and acknowledging him with an unclear hand gesture. Vinny strutted on over with his gray blazer and gold chain taking a seat next to Bob. “Hey there how we doin’ chief,” he said giving me a little head nod. Vinny immediately lost points with that shit. “Hey boss” or “Hey chief” or any of that is just the worst. I’ve never been involved with Native American hierarchies and even if I had how would he know? I don’t show up to work with a headdress or a necklace fashioned with buffalo teeth or anything. Anyways, I soon turned the corner as Vinny began cracking me up.

“Shit man I think I broke my hand again it hurts like a bastard,” he said in obvious pain rotating his wrist and rubbing it. “I just got my cast off today but I think I need a brace or some shit.” God knows how Vinny broke his hand. I wanted to think it was something mob related. It could’ve been tennis for all I knew. “Hey what’s ya name kid? Paul? Say you got any bee’as?” “Beers? Yeah we got a couple beers.”

As time went on Vinny and Bob were talking like a couple of high school kids, excited to hit downtown and whoop it up underneath the bright neon lights of Broadway. At times we’d all be talking and Vinny what with his broken hand and all was talk-texting with his wife. “HOW-DO-YOU-FEEL,” he said loud and slow with his thick New York accent, like he’s teaching somebody English. Then he had me stand in front of the wine bottles as he took my picture. “FIRST-NASHVILLIAN-WE-MET. PAUL.” He was starting to grow on me.

“Say Paul tell me what you think a dis. Does this sound a little provocative to you?” He showed me the ad in the in-flight magazine he stole from the plane. The ad was all pink with a seductive looking woman on it for I think it was Aloft hotels. It did use words like “a world of possibilities” and “take a step forward” in its description. “Yeah Vin it does sound a bit suggestive I must say.” Him and Bob were getting all worked up about it.

“You better watch out if the lights get too low and you can’t see, you might wind up grabbing something you weren’t expecting and wind up in a sticky situation!” Bob burst into classic fat man with a hoodie laughter. “Hell as long as it feels good then what the hell you know?!” Vinny burst into classic mafioso laughter.

These good old boys were already having a blast and they hadn’t even been out of the airport yet. Besides the fact it appeared they were swingers, or at least wanted to be, they were nice enough dudes. I bid farewell to them as we had to close up shop, and off into the night they stumbled. At least downtown should be bright enough so Vinny could see, I thought.




A Shmuck is Born

I work at a wine bar and cafe in a moderatley busy international airport. In the nine months I’ve been there, I’ve come across many of our fair country’s finest shmucks and douchebags. I’m talking folks you are genuinely bummed to know actually exist in our society, and sadly many of these people are prominent figures in American business and/or politics. Often times you can assume these corporate bastards are dreadful selfish beings without actually meeting them, but it’s a whole other beast when you are forced to engage with them.

“So here’s my idea. Now tell me this wouldn’t be a moneymaker. You ready? Okay…strip clubs in the airport. STRIP CLUBS IN THE DAMN AIRPORT!” Jeff from Cleveland was on is fourth or fifth Cab, getting worked up over this idea. “And I have another idea…STRIP CLUBS IN THE CLUB HOUSES ON THE GOLF COURSE!” Great Jeff, brilliant. He went on to fantasize aloud about how successful he thought these would be. A fellow bar patron alongside him laughed as he listened in with me. “Here I am just throwing my pearls at swine,” Jeff said extending his drunken arms in my direction. Eat shit, Jeff.

If I had a nickel for every suit and tie joker that stomped up to the bar with their bluetooth or headphones connected to their phones talking shop with their business chronies, I’d have probably like $20. This isn’t just talking, but often times yelling, just to make sure everyone around can hear them say words like “millions of dollars” or perhaps “vacation home in the Hamptons.” If they aren’t sitting, they are frantically pacing back and forth in our store, paying no mind to others. “I told that motherfucker to close the deal a god damn month ago! I want my fucking bonus!” Hey we all want a bonus, guy. Just chill out and fly far far away from me.

The shmuckery I’ve witnessed behind that bar is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever encountered in my life, job or otherwise. However, the shmuckdom extends beyond gender and social class, as the onslaught of awful travelers come in many shapes and forms. From one girl picking her scabs and leaving her bloody bandages on the floor, to one guy leaving a pile of toenails underneath one of our tables, there’s always shenanigans taking place in one way or another.

There was another incident where a couple of young girls decided to drink and dash. Luckily I noticed in time and I jogged down the hall to catch up with them. They plead oblivious to the situation, ultimately tipping quite well for their “brain farts.” Now just as a frame of reference, the store has no walls so people can come and go at their leisure from a wide variety of angles. Three businessmen at the far end of the bar had been laughing and whooping it up for the past few hours, racking up a bill damn near a couple hundred. While polishing glasses, Susan (fellow co-worker, sassy South African woman) jokingly said to me that the loudest of the three men said he was going to skip the bill like the girls. “I played four years in the NFL man you don’t want me to have to spear tackle you,” I said in jest. He let out a booming open-mouthed laugh to which I could see his fillings and said, “I’ve got a daughter you can tackle!” Awkwardness settled into the air quick. “Well sir that’s a whole other can of worms.” This was merely playful shmuckery, but it was just such a ridiculous thing to say.

On the contrary, for every 10 assholes I meet, there’s usually at least sometimes maybe one really great and interesting person, and/or celebrity of varying degrees. The other day I had James Laurinaitis, ex-linebacker of the St. Louis Rams. He recently got released, and was on his way to New Orleans to visit with the Saints when I talked to him. Being a football fan, it was intriguing to get the inside scoop of a fairly relevant player. I asked him if the Bills contacted him, but he said Rex hasn’t given him a ring yet.

Besides him I’ve encountered such random famous folks as Ashley Judd, Martina McBride, Lou Holtz, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, Aaron Tippin (shmohawk), the guy who co-invented the spray tan, and likely dozens who I didn’t notice. Spray tan man was bronze and wrinkled as hell and just got back from Montepulciano Italy. You could spot this saggy bag of douche from a mile away.

The entertainment aspect of this job, along with my enjoyment of working with wine, have kept me around and dealing with these kinds of fools. Sometimes it can even be fun to deal with them and talk shit back, which they often enjoy. The people-watching in an airport is arguably the absolute best, too. There is often much going on in damn near every direction involving a rotating cast of crazies. Needless to say, there is no shortage of bullshit and hijinks that go down in the C concourse. The airport is truly a chaotic and indecent world unto its own, and I am compelled to document the atrocious/hilarious/disturbing human behavior within its confines.