I had my underwear stolen once.
It wasn’t really just my underwear; it was my shower bag. I used for showers at truck stops. The thief didn’t steal it at a truck stop though; some prick stole it at a Greyhound bus station in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I was at the Greyhound station in St. Paul because my mom’s car broke down on my way home from a weekend in Duluth. I was on the phone with my mom, kind of keeping an eye on the bag. The call was a plea to get my mom to pick me up from the bus station. But my plea went unheeded and I quickly became an expert on the city buses that would get me from St. Paul to Minneapolis where my mom worked.
All this was the culmination of an awesome weekend in Duluth. It was the early days of my truck driving career. I was still driving a company truck and didn’t own a car. Actually, I did own a car, but it was in the Eagan impound lot. The Minneapolis Park police impounded the car in hopes of getting restitution for the trees my buddies and me ran down one drunken night using said car.
That tale is for another time.
I went to Duluth that weekend in my mom’s car with the intent of exploring the possibility of moving up there. A guy I used to work with bought a house up there and had a room for rent…if I was interested. I met a sweet little girl that weekend whose name was Dana Little. Long raven hair, great smile, and a nice body.
She was sweet!
My joke after it was clear that she was into me was, “If anyone asks how my weekend was in Duluth, I can always say…I got a little.”
Nope, it wasn’t funny then either and I didn’t get shit.
We spent the evening together and most of the next couple of days. The whole time I kept noticing that my mom’s Ford Tempo did not like the hills. If you have ever been to Duluth, you know what I mean by “hills”.
Finally, it was time to return to my mom’s little rambler in Coon Rapids and then the open road. As I climbed the hill coming out of Duluth on I35 the car was acting like it was having a seizure. It coughed and sputtered, hiccuped, stalled and forced me to shift into a lower gear at times.
That crappy grey/gray car was sucking in its dying breaths!
Why were all Tempos some shade of grey/gray?
However, that crappy old car made the climb and I was sailing along on a cool crisp pre-dawn winter morning in my mom’s Ford Tempo. Dana was in the rear view mirror with promises of the two of us getting to know each other in the coming months…life was good.
Until the next hill climb. Man, that car hated hills at this point in its life.
Every time I had to pull something, more than a one percent grade the car bitched. Finally, as I was pulling a particularly steep hill I saw an orange glow at the base of the windshield. Alarmed, I pulled over and popped the hood.
The area around the carburetor was on fire!
My first thought was that the car was a total loss and it was going to burn to the ground. Then I remembered it was my mom’s car and I should probably do something. There was pockets of snow from a late fall snow storm and I grabbed handfuls and tossed it in the area of the fire. To my surprise, it didn’t take much to extinguish the flames.
I waited a few minutes to see if the fire would reignite, but it was out. The sky was starting to lighten to the east and I was stranded out in the middle of northern Minnesota on a cold fall morning with no car. I looked to the south and saw a familiar sight. As a newly minted truck driver, I was learning that the big orange globe with the numbers “76” emblazoned on them meant salvation.
The exit was about a mile to the south, I walked the whole way without a single person inquiring as to whether I needed help.
I walked down the ramp, to the left and the half mile to the truck stop. Not a single person stopped to see if I needed help. So much for “Minnesota nice”!
It was a tiny truck stop, but I knew my element. There was phones, a bathroom, and cash if I needed it. And I did. I called Nick, my landlord and friend. He couldn’t come get me until later in the day. Great, a whole day of watching cable TV in a truck stop lounge. I called my mom, there was no way she could drive all the way to Carlton Travel Stop much less Duluth to fetch me. I had to find my own way home.
For the second time in my life, I called Greyhound. The first time was to escape a bad deal in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I never booked that trip, but this time there was no escaping the obvious. I had to take a Greyhound to get home. It wouldn’t be my first time riding a Greyhound, but it would be the first for personal reasons.
The first time was a trip from Minneapolis to Mankato to pick up a truck for the leasing company. That trip seemed like it took forever. The Greyhound from Minneapolis to Mankato stopped at every fucking town on the way down! That along with some blonde lush sitting in the back sipping her cherry schnapps made for a long trip. Thank god, I didn’t have to pee.
I spent eight hours at that truck stop waiting for Nick to come and get me. I booked a ticket on the Greyhound for the next morning…I needed to get to work…make some money…and not lose my truck because it was sitting for too long.
Did you know Greyhound started in Hibbing, Minnesota? Look it up. The company started as a ferry for minors from Hibbing to Alice, MN, at 15¢ a trip. The name greyhound comes from a certain bus built for them that was painted grey/gray.
The run from Duluth to St. Paul was a single stop. The stop was in Hinckley, at the Amoco station. The station is closed now, but before the casino, it, Tobies, and the fire museum were the places to visit if you had time while passing through.
Before long, with one stop for a stretch at the half way point, I was in St. Paul. I was in a Greyhound bus station, in the sordid part of town, wondering where to go from here. All I had on me was a few bucks, my shower bag, and a need to get to Eagan, Minnesota so I could go to work.
In that shower bag was a couple days’ worth of clothes, a hair dryer, my shaving stuff, and yes underwear. I turned my back on it for just a couple of seconds, literally. I saw the shady characters watching me everywhere I looked, but it was a small bag. What the hell, how much valuable stuff can one man put in a tiny shower bag?
At first…I was upset…it was my stuff. A couple pairs of 501’s, toiletries, shirts, a hair dryer, and yes, my underwear. I replaced all those things with a nominal advance and a trip to Target. Shit, the most expensive thing was the bag.
Ever since, I have wondered. How desperate are people that they will steal anything. Even a small shower bag that contains nothing of value to anyone but he person carrying that bag. I recovered from that theft in a matter of hours, but how long did it take the thief to recover from the disappointment of scoring nothing more than a couple pair of underwear.