Saturday, December 14, 2013

Randy's Washington Post

Aside from my one night's work in the late 1960's, all I know of the Washington Post during that era was from listening to many hours of stories from Randy my direct supervisor or as they are called at the Post, "assignment coordinators." Randy is about 10 years older than me but does not have a gray hair in his head. Rather, he has a full head of red hair. His descriptions of the Washington Post during the 1960's was very different from the paper while I worked there.

For one, he said you could smell marijuana smoke inside the building many days. Alcohol was served at all manager meetings. He told me of one guy who operated a liquor store out of his work locker. Randy said the guy usually had a good selection of booze, beer and wine available especially during the late night hours. Even today in DC you cannot buy bottles of alcohol legally in Washington, DC after 9 PM.

Sex was big at the Post as well. There was lots of it going on there in the sixties. One manager told be of having sex with one of the cleaning ladies. He got busted by the wife because she gave something to remember the affair by.

The practical joke became refined into a skilled black art back in the early days. Randy was normally the one always dealing out the joke it seemed. Like when Bob was driving his brand new Miata home late one night and a car came up behind him on the lonely road and began flashing their lights into his rear view mirror. Bob panicked and gunned the little car but the car followed closed behind now beeping the horn. At the light Bob got out with a stick or golf club or something and demanded to know why they were fucking with him. "No dude. I wanna buy your car." Apparently Randy had placed a big sign on the back of Bob's car offering it for sale for something like fifteen hundred or best offer.

Tagging other Post employees' car was something Randy did a number of times. He put a long tape used to typeset the papers in the olden days on the back of this hippie's VW Bug then watch the guy drive away with this 30 foot tail waving behind his car. Certainly many fellow drivers must have pondered the significance of this long car tail. But the funny part was this dude passed Randy about a year later with his Bug and he still had about twenty feet of the tape flapping behind him.

The Post had a piece of equipment delivered in a large wooden box the size of a coffin. The Washington Post also apparently had a guy dumb enough to believe a wake would be held on the premises of the Washington Post. Both of these facts are true and Randy set in motion, with a small cabal of accomplices, convinced a Post employee not known for intellectual achievement, that another Post employee had died and was laid out in the Post building. The conspirators used the wooden box draped with cloth to have a fellow conspirator lay inside and play dead. The guy stood at the fake casket and said over and over again that so and so was dead and that he just couldn't believe he was gone. Apparently they kept this guy going for some time.

That was Randy. He was real tricky and stealthily quiet. He could slip up behind you and you'd be oblivious. Or he could be like a magician and keep your eye busy with one hand as he was passing by you while slapping a big star badge on your shoulder and a pink paper gun on your side. Then everybody in the shop would call the victim sheriff and partner until he finally wised up from the giggling and such. But Randy would just keep a sort of Cheshire Cat grin but not laugh because that would end his practical joke. He like to work them for time as well as style and degree of difficulty.

One of his favorites was to stick pink spurs on both your heels. He's slip up from behind and push these pre-taped, ready to go giant spurs, cut from pink paper onto the victim's shoe in the back. Then they'd go walking from here to there with a couple of giant pink spurs flapping behind them. Other Post employees would begin to sing "I'm an old cow hand, from the Rio Grande," as the apparently gay cowboy would strut by. However, when you travel from one floor to another within the building and everybody is singing that song, a body does get suspicious.

I more than anyone, caused Randy to worry a bit. I can be sneaky too like when I put some change in his hub caps. It only jingled at slow speeds then quieted with cylindrical force at higher speeds. By the time he got home he knew what the sound was and figured I'd done it. But it was dark and he figured he'd take the change out in the light of the next day. Then he forgot about it until heading back to work the following day when he began to hear the jingle again.

Randy remarked one night that he had to drive his wife somewhere. "Doesn't your wife drive?" I asked him. "Nah, it hurts her back too much to drive." He responded. "Why does driving hurt her back, man?" I continue inquiring. In a mocking tone Randy said, "Your back would hurt too if YOU fell out of a six story window." I said, "Randy you pushed your wife out of a six floor window?" "Quickly he responded, "No, no. They thought I did." "Then how'd she manage to fall out a six floor window, dude?" I interrogated him like I had him on the witness stand. I pointed my finger at him then motion for him to fess up. "Look my wife was hanging curtains and standing on a chair. The windows was open and only the screen was between her and the concrete six floors below. Anyway she lost her balance and fell through the screen then landed on the sidewalk six floors below. I came out of the back room looking for my wife. She wasn't in the bathroom and for a minute I figured she'd gone to the laundry room - then I notice the chain was still on the door. I looked around then noticed the curtains blowing outside. I went over to the window, look down and saw a crowd of people forming around my wife."

"My God Randy! Was your wife alright?" I asked amazed by this accident story I'd never heard about. "Oh she had a broken spleen, ribs, her leg. She was lucky to survive." We grew quiet for a moment then I commented, "Damn Randy! That was a hell of a thing your wife went through." Randy without even hesitating to think replied, "Heck that's nothing. My first wife went down on a horse." The room at first grew deathly quiet as contemplation of Randy's statement took hold. Then a gay admaker, Alan, who knew my personality warned, "TOM!" Just as I began to reply, "Well I see why you fired the bitch. After something like that you could never measure up to that horse in her eyes."

The room exploded into laughter. People were falling out of their $1200 ergonomically correct chairs. For weeks Ad Ops workers would snicker whenever the subject was brought up. Henceforth, Randy would be known as "The Equestrian."

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