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Payback's a Bitch

THE FAKE MEMO
by Josh Board, Rancho Peñasquitos
I used to work on a morning show for Magic 102, a former classic rock station here in San Diego. I usually got to work before the other DJs, and I’d spend a few minutes talking to the overnight jock. One morning he was asking me questions about a DJ that worked with us. I thought it was a little unusual because we’d never talked about this person before. We usually just talked about basketball or the weirdos that call in at 2:00 a.m. requesting things we’ve never heard of. Usually songs from local bands they’re in or some obscure live Deep Purple tune that was only released in Guam.

Well, when I went to my mailbox, I saw a personal note from this DJ he had just asked me about. I thought it was a weird coincidence, but then it hit me. Here’s a DJ that works overnight, the one time nobody else is around. Maybe he was playing Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” and during the ten-minute drum solo, he went looking through other people’s boxes reading their notes. So I asked him if he looked at the stuff in my box, and he said no. But he hesitated just long enough to make me realize he actually had. So I pressed him a little, and he admitted it, giving some lame excuse about thinking my box was his. I really didn’t mind that much, until I realized — nobody really has privacy from this guy.

We had a boss who typed memos all the time, so I decided to get revenge by typing a fake memo — complete with a bogus signature of my boss. It basically said, “We are going to fire ‘Jerry’ next week, but we would prefer he quit on his own. I know that you’re usually the first person to see him in the morning, so why don’t you tell him to send résumés out because there isn’t much job security in radio. Make sure you’re very subtle…”

After I typed the memo, I put it in my own box. I figured, if he didn’t look in my box, he wouldn’t see it, and no harm done. If he is nosy again, he’ll be s*%#ing bricks. When I came in the next morning, I made the usual small talk and went to see the messages in my box. After I re-read my bogus memo, I started tearing it up in front of the trash can. Jerry said, very innocently, “What’s that?” I acted nervous, purposely, saying, “Oh, that. It was nothing.” I walked into another studio, and he followed me. He said, “So, anything interesting going on?” At this point, I assumed he had looked in my box again. I was ready to gut him. I said, “I’ve been thinking about sending out some résumés. Have you ever thought about…” Before I could finish my sentence, he said, “No. Why should I? Do you know something I don’t?” I replied, “No, but it’s always a good idea to see what jobs are out there.”

All morning I felt like the mission was accomplished. I figured I’d let him go a few days being scared, and then I’d let him off the hook. Well, when my boss got there in the morning, he yelled, “JOSH!” I walked into his office, and he was holding a copy of this fake memo, with a note from Jerry that said, “If you don’t want me to work here, tell me yourself.” My boss asked me to explain, which I did. He laughed, although I don’t think he cared for my forging his signature. Jerry never admitted to looking in my box this second time and tried to say some other DJ must have made the copy. So for the next few months, I’d occasionally leave notes in my box that said, “Still haven’t learned your lesson, have you?”

I TOLD THEM THE BABY WAS MINE
by Marcelle Lige, University Heights
In 1988 I got involved with a man who was only out to use me. I cared for him so much, I was blind to the game he and his mother and family played on me. He acted like he cared for me, and his mother and other family members really acted like they cared and accepted me. He used me for everything. I gave him anything I could. His mother lied to me, saying she was receiving a large lawsuit settlement very soon and she would repay everything I did for my boyfriend, and her, and her family, plus more, because “I was like family.”

No settlement ever came, and as I got broke he no longer wanted me, and the mother had no need to be involved. I found there was no settlement ever, and this wasn’t anything unusual for them…so…I faked being pregnant. I also took them to small claims court during this faked pregnancy. I won in court, but they didn’t pay. During this fake pregnancy they kept in touch because they wanted my “baby.” I moved to Phoenix during this time. My best friend in Phoenix really was pregnant and had the baby around the time I would have been due. So I used her baby, who fit perfect because her baby was half white and half black, which would have been what ours would have been if it was real. So he and his family believed I had his son, as I would use my godson and bring him with me to San Diego, and they really believed the baby was mine. I was able to get money, and lots of baby clothes, etc., for him.

I did this for a little over a year and recovered all my money plus more and kept my godson in gifts. The money they sent was for the support of the baby, not my credit cards. They thought I was going to let them have the baby after he was a year old, then they could draw welfare…they thought! After that I thanked them for repaying my money and asked them how it felt to be lied to and used!! They didn’t like it! A family member advised me her family had done this to several trusting people before, especially using the “settlement con,” to get people to do things for them. And my ex-boyfriend only used women anyway.

I feel we are even!

THEY FOOLED WITH A PRO
by Richard M., Spring Valley
During the summer of 1967 I traveled with my father, who at the time was an umpire for the old California Pacific Coast League, a minor league division of the American League.

My father was doing a three-game series in Bakersfield, the temperature was in the hundreds, the fans were barbaric, the ball players were bush league, and so was the management. By the third inning of the third game of the series, there had been two player fistfights, at least one bean ball, and my father had thrown out both managers and four players. It was a miserable series.

After the end of the third game, we had to leave immediately for the next series in Modesto with two new teams. When my dad and I got to our car, we found all four tires flat. Apparently someone had just let the air out. Needless to say, my dad was furious. He called the auto club and waited. While the tires were being inflated, a couple of guys walked by and told my dad that they saw two of the players letting the air out. My dad was livid.

He packed his umpire gear in the trunk and immediately drove back to the hotel. We went straight to the room, and he went straight to the telephone. Grabbing the local Bakersfield phone book, he looked up a number and made a call.

He called a prominent restaurant in Bakersfield and introduced himself as the manager of the visiting team. In honor of having a winning series, the manager [my dad] wanted to make reservations for 20 top sirloin steak dinners, champagne, and the works for his winning team. The owner of the restaurant was more than happy to take the reservation, stating that the red carpet would be rolled out for the team; he was looking at a high-dollar tab.

After my dad had finished the call to the restaurant, he called the motel where the home team was billeted. He asked to speak to the team manager. The following conversation went on: “Hello, I’m the owner of the so-and-so restaurant, and in honor of your three-game series in our city, I’d like to invite you, your coaching staff, and your team members to a free top sirloin dinner with salad, dessert, and complimentary champagne.”

After the conversation was over, my dad and I packed, loaded the car, and got out of town.

Two days later we had finished our umpire duties and were spending the night just outside of L.A. My dad came back to our hotel room with a copy of the Los Angeles Times. In the middle of the front page of the sports section it read, “Major Brou-ha-ha in Bakersfield restaurant — 13 arrested.”

Apparently what my father thought would happen did happen. The supposedly invited team showed up, ate, drank, and became merry and then was presented with a check for over $400. The team manager made a stink, a fist fight broke out, the restaurant was trashed, the cops were called, 13 players were arrested, along with the manager. I read the article, laughed like hell, looked at my dad. His comment was, “They shouldn’t screw around with a pro!”

End of story, we packed, loaded the car, and came on home to San Diego. I forgot all about what happened until six months later when an article appeared in Sports Illustrated recounting the whole incident, with the bottom line being the team, as a whole, was fined $1000 and had to pay for all restaurant damage.

Revenge is sweet!

A STINK BOMB AT TACO BELL
by Alex Rynant, Rancho Bernardo
Bob and I were in a hurry to pick up his wife at the airport, but we needed to eat before we got there. We went to Taco Bell for some tacos and burritos that we could power down while driving. We got our order and sped away for the airport. Halfway through eating, we divided up the remaining tacos and realized that we were four tacos short. It was too late to turn back, the plane was scheduled to land in a few minutes, and we were half an hour away.

Bob ran off to find his wife, and I went to look for a pay phone. I called the restaurant and explained that our order was shorted. The manager was less than friendly, and we argued for a little bit. It was my word against his, and I finally gave up. It was only a couple of dollars, but it was the principle that counted. Plus we were still hungry.

I caught up with Bob and his wife, exchanged pleasantries, and then told Bob the bad news. Surprisingly, he was just as ticked off as I was. Bob and I had been shorted by fast food drive-through windows once too often. He cussed the whole way home, which made for a very long car ride. Later that night Bob called me with a plan for getting even.

Bob was a business major in college. Even though he never graduated, he did manage to pick up a few things, mostly from his fraternity brothers. One thing he learned to do was how to make a stink bomb. I’m sure it wasn’t in the university’s curriculum, it was just one of the important things you needed to learn in life.

It was just before noon on a Saturday when we decided to pay Taco Bell a visit. We pulled into the parking lot, and Bob grabbed a bottle of liquid out of the back of his truck. Once inside the restaurant, we each ordered a large soft drink. Instead of filling the cups from the self-serve soda machine, we took them to the back of the restaurant. Bob then filled each cup from the bottle he had brought with him. He then pulled two envelopes from his pocket, one for each of us, and told me dump the contents of it into the cup after I had placed it on the table. Bob went to the other side of the restaurant to do the same thing.

Words cannot describe the rancid odor that engulfed the restaurant. These were stink bombs that were disguised as ordinary soft-drink cups. They emitted an invisible stench that pierced your nose like being hit with a sledgehammer. Try to imagine the horrific odor produced by a pool of chunky vomit baking in the summer heat, only a hundred times worse.

We sat in Bob’s truck and watched as people streamed out of the restaurant. The workers propped the doors open and cleaned up the mess. It was at least 25 to 30 minutes before people went into the restaurant. Meanwhile, Bob and I had a good laugh. It was worth the tacos that we had been shorted.

NOSE TO NOSE WITH A KENWORTH
by Joe Kievit, Rolando
Most over-the-road truck drivers are invariably known to their peers by their CB radio call signs or “handles.” “Bad News” was no exception, and if ever I saw someone who fit their nickname, this guy was the one.

We both worked for a now-defunct trucking company that was based in San Diego. This company was a fairly berserk place to work, and Bad News fit right in when he hired on as a driver. He was definitely a strange bird. He talked in CB lingo when he was talking to people in person and introduced himself by his handle as if he were Clint Eastwood introducing himself to a fan. I have never figured out whether we were friends or enemies.

After a few weeks at work, it became apparent to his fellow drivers that Bad News was going to be a real pain in the ass to work with. In addition to a lot of annoying habits, Bad News was an inveterate practical joker. Everyone at the company was sooner or later made a victim of his attempts at humor, myself included. The only way he kept his job was the fact that he was a fairly good driver, and management was too dumb to figure out who the joker was that put the dispatcher on an X-rated mailing list, signed the secretary up with a dating service (she was married), or who kept mailing potatoes to the owner. (No note or anything, just potatoes.)

The first time Bad News got me was at a frozen-storage place near the convention center. Bad News and I were there loading at the same time. I finished first, secured my trailer doors, and got in my cab to check my paperwork. Bad News finished, hopped in his truck, waved, and took off. Satisfied my paperwork was right, I fired up and headed onto the freeway. About a mile later, cars started driving by me and pointing and honking. I checked my mirrors and, to my great horror, saw a door was open and was swinging in the wind. I pulled off to the shoulder and ran to the rear. Bad News apparently had unlatched my door, and I was now short four cases of frozen fish that were undoubtedly all over the freeway. Ha-ha. Naturally Bad News denied it. The next time, several of us were getting ready to take off out of our yard for a trip to Washington state with several van loads of military freight. I checked my truck, got in, and got ready to go. Bad News and two others took off, and I started up and put it in gear. Little did I know that Bad News had pulled my fifth-wheel release lever. As soon as I moved, the trailer slid off the tractor and dropped on its nose. Naturally, the owner, the mechanic, and the dispatcher were watching. The owner walked over and asked me what I did for an encore. I was so shocked, I just sat there with a weak smile.

The final straw was the mouse he put in my truck. I kept finding chewed-up papers and mouse turds, and I damn near had an accident one day when the little bastard got caught under the seat and started shrieking. I eventually caught him in a box and threw him out at a rest stop. I had had enough.

Evening the score with Mr. Bad News was not ever really planned, the opportunity just presented itself to me one day. I pulled over at the Union 76 truck stop at Buttonwillow one night, and who should be there but my old pal Bad News. He was asleep with his head resting on the steering wheel of his truck. A truck-stop parking lot is a fairly noisy place, and he didn’t wake up when I put the nose of my conventional Kenworth about ten feet from the front of his cabover. I had heard old timers talk about the following stunt, and now it seemed like a pretty good idea.

To those not familiar with the terms, a conventional tractor is one with a hood in front of the driver’s cab, and a cabover is a tractor where the driver sits up high over the engine, and the only thing separating him from the outside world is about a 1/4-inch of glass. Anyway, I turned off all my lights and crept forward very slowly until I was maybe four or five feet from his windshield. I reached up and yanked the air horn, flipped on all my lights, and while I rolled very slowly forward, I pumped the brakes hard for maximum effect. Bad News awoke from a sound sleep and believed for a split second he had fallen asleep at the wheel and was about to have a head-on collision. He stood straight up in the cab, jamming down on the brake pedal with all his might. I definitely saw him hit his head on the roof, and I strongly suspect he ruined his underwear. After he realized he wasn’t dead and was in fact stopped in a parking lot, he flew out of his cab, cursing.

He didn’t realize it was me until he got to my side. I locked my door just in time before he grabbed the door handle. “Get the f--k outta that truck, you m----- f-----, I’ll kill you!” he screamed. “What’s the matter, man? Can’t you take a joke?” I offered as he was about zipping the door handle off. I put my truck in reverse, and he just stood there glaring at me. As I backed up and then went around him, I rolled down my window and called to him. “Hey, Bad News! What’s that saying? Payback’s a bitch?” “F--- you!” was his snappy comeback. I started thinking on the way back that maybe I had gone a tad too far with Bad News and that now I was probably going to die, or at least have to fight when we got to the yard. I didn’t see Bad News back home. (I didn’t know he was having brake-valve problems.) As a matter of fact, I didn’t see him again until the following week.

Instead of the confrontation I was expecting, he totally ignored me. This continued until Bad News quit a few months later in a pay dispute. He came in to pick up his last check, and we passed each other as he was leaving. “See ya on the road,” I said. “Yeah,” he said, “whatever.”

Originally published in the Reader on November 23, 1994 (Some of the names in these stories have been changed.)

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THE FAKE MEMO
by Josh Board, Rancho Peñasquitos
I used to work on a morning show for Magic 102, a former classic rock station here in San Diego. I usually got to work before the other DJs, and I’d spend a few minutes talking to the overnight jock. One morning he was asking me questions about a DJ that worked with us. I thought it was a little unusual because we’d never talked about this person before. We usually just talked about basketball or the weirdos that call in at 2:00 a.m. requesting things we’ve never heard of. Usually songs from local bands they’re in or some obscure live Deep Purple tune that was only released in Guam.

Well, when I went to my mailbox, I saw a personal note from this DJ he had just asked me about. I thought it was a weird coincidence, but then it hit me. Here’s a DJ that works overnight, the one time nobody else is around. Maybe he was playing Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” and during the ten-minute drum solo, he went looking through other people’s boxes reading their notes. So I asked him if he looked at the stuff in my box, and he said no. But he hesitated just long enough to make me realize he actually had. So I pressed him a little, and he admitted it, giving some lame excuse about thinking my box was his. I really didn’t mind that much, until I realized — nobody really has privacy from this guy.

We had a boss who typed memos all the time, so I decided to get revenge by typing a fake memo — complete with a bogus signature of my boss. It basically said, “We are going to fire ‘Jerry’ next week, but we would prefer he quit on his own. I know that you’re usually the first person to see him in the morning, so why don’t you tell him to send résumés out because there isn’t much job security in radio. Make sure you’re very subtle…”

After I typed the memo, I put it in my own box. I figured, if he didn’t look in my box, he wouldn’t see it, and no harm done. If he is nosy again, he’ll be s*%#ing bricks. When I came in the next morning, I made the usual small talk and went to see the messages in my box. After I re-read my bogus memo, I started tearing it up in front of the trash can. Jerry said, very innocently, “What’s that?” I acted nervous, purposely, saying, “Oh, that. It was nothing.” I walked into another studio, and he followed me. He said, “So, anything interesting going on?” At this point, I assumed he had looked in my box again. I was ready to gut him. I said, “I’ve been thinking about sending out some résumés. Have you ever thought about…” Before I could finish my sentence, he said, “No. Why should I? Do you know something I don’t?” I replied, “No, but it’s always a good idea to see what jobs are out there.”

All morning I felt like the mission was accomplished. I figured I’d let him go a few days being scared, and then I’d let him off the hook. Well, when my boss got there in the morning, he yelled, “JOSH!” I walked into his office, and he was holding a copy of this fake memo, with a note from Jerry that said, “If you don’t want me to work here, tell me yourself.” My boss asked me to explain, which I did. He laughed, although I don’t think he cared for my forging his signature. Jerry never admitted to looking in my box this second time and tried to say some other DJ must have made the copy. So for the next few months, I’d occasionally leave notes in my box that said, “Still haven’t learned your lesson, have you?”

I TOLD THEM THE BABY WAS MINE
by Marcelle Lige, University Heights
In 1988 I got involved with a man who was only out to use me. I cared for him so much, I was blind to the game he and his mother and family played on me. He acted like he cared for me, and his mother and other family members really acted like they cared and accepted me. He used me for everything. I gave him anything I could. His mother lied to me, saying she was receiving a large lawsuit settlement very soon and she would repay everything I did for my boyfriend, and her, and her family, plus more, because “I was like family.”

No settlement ever came, and as I got broke he no longer wanted me, and the mother had no need to be involved. I found there was no settlement ever, and this wasn’t anything unusual for them…so…I faked being pregnant. I also took them to small claims court during this faked pregnancy. I won in court, but they didn’t pay. During this fake pregnancy they kept in touch because they wanted my “baby.” I moved to Phoenix during this time. My best friend in Phoenix really was pregnant and had the baby around the time I would have been due. So I used her baby, who fit perfect because her baby was half white and half black, which would have been what ours would have been if it was real. So he and his family believed I had his son, as I would use my godson and bring him with me to San Diego, and they really believed the baby was mine. I was able to get money, and lots of baby clothes, etc., for him.

I did this for a little over a year and recovered all my money plus more and kept my godson in gifts. The money they sent was for the support of the baby, not my credit cards. They thought I was going to let them have the baby after he was a year old, then they could draw welfare…they thought! After that I thanked them for repaying my money and asked them how it felt to be lied to and used!! They didn’t like it! A family member advised me her family had done this to several trusting people before, especially using the “settlement con,” to get people to do things for them. And my ex-boyfriend only used women anyway.

I feel we are even!

THEY FOOLED WITH A PRO
by Richard M., Spring Valley
During the summer of 1967 I traveled with my father, who at the time was an umpire for the old California Pacific Coast League, a minor league division of the American League.

My father was doing a three-game series in Bakersfield, the temperature was in the hundreds, the fans were barbaric, the ball players were bush league, and so was the management. By the third inning of the third game of the series, there had been two player fistfights, at least one bean ball, and my father had thrown out both managers and four players. It was a miserable series.

After the end of the third game, we had to leave immediately for the next series in Modesto with two new teams. When my dad and I got to our car, we found all four tires flat. Apparently someone had just let the air out. Needless to say, my dad was furious. He called the auto club and waited. While the tires were being inflated, a couple of guys walked by and told my dad that they saw two of the players letting the air out. My dad was livid.

He packed his umpire gear in the trunk and immediately drove back to the hotel. We went straight to the room, and he went straight to the telephone. Grabbing the local Bakersfield phone book, he looked up a number and made a call.

He called a prominent restaurant in Bakersfield and introduced himself as the manager of the visiting team. In honor of having a winning series, the manager [my dad] wanted to make reservations for 20 top sirloin steak dinners, champagne, and the works for his winning team. The owner of the restaurant was more than happy to take the reservation, stating that the red carpet would be rolled out for the team; he was looking at a high-dollar tab.

After my dad had finished the call to the restaurant, he called the motel where the home team was billeted. He asked to speak to the team manager. The following conversation went on: “Hello, I’m the owner of the so-and-so restaurant, and in honor of your three-game series in our city, I’d like to invite you, your coaching staff, and your team members to a free top sirloin dinner with salad, dessert, and complimentary champagne.”

After the conversation was over, my dad and I packed, loaded the car, and got out of town.

Two days later we had finished our umpire duties and were spending the night just outside of L.A. My dad came back to our hotel room with a copy of the Los Angeles Times. In the middle of the front page of the sports section it read, “Major Brou-ha-ha in Bakersfield restaurant — 13 arrested.”

Apparently what my father thought would happen did happen. The supposedly invited team showed up, ate, drank, and became merry and then was presented with a check for over $400. The team manager made a stink, a fist fight broke out, the restaurant was trashed, the cops were called, 13 players were arrested, along with the manager. I read the article, laughed like hell, looked at my dad. His comment was, “They shouldn’t screw around with a pro!”

End of story, we packed, loaded the car, and came on home to San Diego. I forgot all about what happened until six months later when an article appeared in Sports Illustrated recounting the whole incident, with the bottom line being the team, as a whole, was fined $1000 and had to pay for all restaurant damage.

Revenge is sweet!

A STINK BOMB AT TACO BELL
by Alex Rynant, Rancho Bernardo
Bob and I were in a hurry to pick up his wife at the airport, but we needed to eat before we got there. We went to Taco Bell for some tacos and burritos that we could power down while driving. We got our order and sped away for the airport. Halfway through eating, we divided up the remaining tacos and realized that we were four tacos short. It was too late to turn back, the plane was scheduled to land in a few minutes, and we were half an hour away.

Bob ran off to find his wife, and I went to look for a pay phone. I called the restaurant and explained that our order was shorted. The manager was less than friendly, and we argued for a little bit. It was my word against his, and I finally gave up. It was only a couple of dollars, but it was the principle that counted. Plus we were still hungry.

I caught up with Bob and his wife, exchanged pleasantries, and then told Bob the bad news. Surprisingly, he was just as ticked off as I was. Bob and I had been shorted by fast food drive-through windows once too often. He cussed the whole way home, which made for a very long car ride. Later that night Bob called me with a plan for getting even.

Bob was a business major in college. Even though he never graduated, he did manage to pick up a few things, mostly from his fraternity brothers. One thing he learned to do was how to make a stink bomb. I’m sure it wasn’t in the university’s curriculum, it was just one of the important things you needed to learn in life.

It was just before noon on a Saturday when we decided to pay Taco Bell a visit. We pulled into the parking lot, and Bob grabbed a bottle of liquid out of the back of his truck. Once inside the restaurant, we each ordered a large soft drink. Instead of filling the cups from the self-serve soda machine, we took them to the back of the restaurant. Bob then filled each cup from the bottle he had brought with him. He then pulled two envelopes from his pocket, one for each of us, and told me dump the contents of it into the cup after I had placed it on the table. Bob went to the other side of the restaurant to do the same thing.

Words cannot describe the rancid odor that engulfed the restaurant. These were stink bombs that were disguised as ordinary soft-drink cups. They emitted an invisible stench that pierced your nose like being hit with a sledgehammer. Try to imagine the horrific odor produced by a pool of chunky vomit baking in the summer heat, only a hundred times worse.

We sat in Bob’s truck and watched as people streamed out of the restaurant. The workers propped the doors open and cleaned up the mess. It was at least 25 to 30 minutes before people went into the restaurant. Meanwhile, Bob and I had a good laugh. It was worth the tacos that we had been shorted.

NOSE TO NOSE WITH A KENWORTH
by Joe Kievit, Rolando
Most over-the-road truck drivers are invariably known to their peers by their CB radio call signs or “handles.” “Bad News” was no exception, and if ever I saw someone who fit their nickname, this guy was the one.

We both worked for a now-defunct trucking company that was based in San Diego. This company was a fairly berserk place to work, and Bad News fit right in when he hired on as a driver. He was definitely a strange bird. He talked in CB lingo when he was talking to people in person and introduced himself by his handle as if he were Clint Eastwood introducing himself to a fan. I have never figured out whether we were friends or enemies.

After a few weeks at work, it became apparent to his fellow drivers that Bad News was going to be a real pain in the ass to work with. In addition to a lot of annoying habits, Bad News was an inveterate practical joker. Everyone at the company was sooner or later made a victim of his attempts at humor, myself included. The only way he kept his job was the fact that he was a fairly good driver, and management was too dumb to figure out who the joker was that put the dispatcher on an X-rated mailing list, signed the secretary up with a dating service (she was married), or who kept mailing potatoes to the owner. (No note or anything, just potatoes.)

The first time Bad News got me was at a frozen-storage place near the convention center. Bad News and I were there loading at the same time. I finished first, secured my trailer doors, and got in my cab to check my paperwork. Bad News finished, hopped in his truck, waved, and took off. Satisfied my paperwork was right, I fired up and headed onto the freeway. About a mile later, cars started driving by me and pointing and honking. I checked my mirrors and, to my great horror, saw a door was open and was swinging in the wind. I pulled off to the shoulder and ran to the rear. Bad News apparently had unlatched my door, and I was now short four cases of frozen fish that were undoubtedly all over the freeway. Ha-ha. Naturally Bad News denied it. The next time, several of us were getting ready to take off out of our yard for a trip to Washington state with several van loads of military freight. I checked my truck, got in, and got ready to go. Bad News and two others took off, and I started up and put it in gear. Little did I know that Bad News had pulled my fifth-wheel release lever. As soon as I moved, the trailer slid off the tractor and dropped on its nose. Naturally, the owner, the mechanic, and the dispatcher were watching. The owner walked over and asked me what I did for an encore. I was so shocked, I just sat there with a weak smile.

The final straw was the mouse he put in my truck. I kept finding chewed-up papers and mouse turds, and I damn near had an accident one day when the little bastard got caught under the seat and started shrieking. I eventually caught him in a box and threw him out at a rest stop. I had had enough.

Evening the score with Mr. Bad News was not ever really planned, the opportunity just presented itself to me one day. I pulled over at the Union 76 truck stop at Buttonwillow one night, and who should be there but my old pal Bad News. He was asleep with his head resting on the steering wheel of his truck. A truck-stop parking lot is a fairly noisy place, and he didn’t wake up when I put the nose of my conventional Kenworth about ten feet from the front of his cabover. I had heard old timers talk about the following stunt, and now it seemed like a pretty good idea.

To those not familiar with the terms, a conventional tractor is one with a hood in front of the driver’s cab, and a cabover is a tractor where the driver sits up high over the engine, and the only thing separating him from the outside world is about a 1/4-inch of glass. Anyway, I turned off all my lights and crept forward very slowly until I was maybe four or five feet from his windshield. I reached up and yanked the air horn, flipped on all my lights, and while I rolled very slowly forward, I pumped the brakes hard for maximum effect. Bad News awoke from a sound sleep and believed for a split second he had fallen asleep at the wheel and was about to have a head-on collision. He stood straight up in the cab, jamming down on the brake pedal with all his might. I definitely saw him hit his head on the roof, and I strongly suspect he ruined his underwear. After he realized he wasn’t dead and was in fact stopped in a parking lot, he flew out of his cab, cursing.

He didn’t realize it was me until he got to my side. I locked my door just in time before he grabbed the door handle. “Get the f--k outta that truck, you m----- f-----, I’ll kill you!” he screamed. “What’s the matter, man? Can’t you take a joke?” I offered as he was about zipping the door handle off. I put my truck in reverse, and he just stood there glaring at me. As I backed up and then went around him, I rolled down my window and called to him. “Hey, Bad News! What’s that saying? Payback’s a bitch?” “F--- you!” was his snappy comeback. I started thinking on the way back that maybe I had gone a tad too far with Bad News and that now I was probably going to die, or at least have to fight when we got to the yard. I didn’t see Bad News back home. (I didn’t know he was having brake-valve problems.) As a matter of fact, I didn’t see him again until the following week.

Instead of the confrontation I was expecting, he totally ignored me. This continued until Bad News quit a few months later in a pay dispute. He came in to pick up his last check, and we passed each other as he was leaving. “See ya on the road,” I said. “Yeah,” he said, “whatever.”

Originally published in the Reader on November 23, 1994 (Some of the names in these stories have been changed.)

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Awesome stories! I have a bit of military humor tattoed on my upper left arm that the doughboys in WWI used to get:F 'Em All But Six. Basically, in a nutshell, what that means is simple-be careful who you f over...you never know who your pallbearers are going to be. It can also be construed as a type of karmic retribution as well. You can't exactly be a dick to everyone in your life because you never know who your pallbearers are going to be.

Dec. 16, 2009

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