Last night was my last night as a "late crew" member. For a year and a half, I was a low seniority crew member, thinking that I would never be promoted to an "early crew." I've seen dozens of people come and go, some I still think about, others it takes awhile to remember.
In April 2009, I was a "new hire." I didn't know how to do much so I just stood back and observed with my mouth shut. Yellow Tony, as we call him, asked me a little about myself. Alex welcomed me to the crew. Kevin and Black Tony (again, affectionately named) wanted to know more about me and offered advice. Chris, Michael, and Anthony were quiet at first but Anthony warmed up pretty quickly and we realized we shared a similar sense of humor, and he always left me with a belly ache by imitating people or exaggerating his work frustrations.
Chris would always be on these weird diets, like only bananas and tuna, that lead mysterious smells to appear in the airplanes and shouts of "OH MY GOD CHRIS" as he started laughing. Black Tony always packed a lunch box full of stereotypical food of the African-American persuasion. He couldn't ever wait to go on break so he could get him some greens and chicken with hot sauce. Alex always talked about the places he and his girlfriend went and asked what I would being doing with my significant other on the weekend (who is no longer significant, haha). Yellow Tony would always chew on his bottle caps and Alex would yell something like, "You have the biggest f***ing mouth of any person I have ever seen." Kevin and I would often talk with one another and he would always greet me with a "What's up Lauren?" and try to bum cigarettes off of Anthony. Chris was obsessed with working out and eating. Michael was our resident trouble maker. He would always fight with our supervisor about being late and loved to quote Tyrone Biggums and had so many signature phrases it was hard to keep up: "Aaaaayyy liiiilll boday," "we got planes comin' in from Japan," "Gary mama pac-10" were just a few that to explain, would take days.
Our supervisor Gary's mother was apparently a part of the athletic division PAC-10 so one day some guy from a different crew said, "GARY MAMA PAC-10!" And it just sort of stuck and the crew adopted it as an insult and fodder to scribble on the fogged up cans that came from the planes.
There were days we were all interrogated by the full time supervisor. Anthony threw a few Skittles up in the air and freakishly, one stuck into the blade of the plane's engine, which sent the maintenance crew into a fit. Food was later banned on the ramp because of this instance.
Michael was the first to go. He hated the job so much that it was only natural that he would quit. Then Chris got frustrated with Gary one day and just left. He eventually came back but it was decided that he would be fired due to "crew abandonment." Thanks to the union, Chris got his job back on a different crew. Then Alex got promoted to an earlier crew. For the longest time it was Black Tony, Yellow Tony, Anthony, Kevin and I. Then came a new hire, Aaric, who I met after I came back from getting my wisdom teeth removed. At first we all hated him because he was lazy but one day he brought in Krispy Kreme doughnuts for everyone and things got better. Aaric and I got really close during that time and we would both talk about our boyfriend/girlfriend issues. Around this same time, a girl named Estelle got hired but she didn't last very long before she quit. At this point, we obtained a very annoying character named Brad. I was later informed by Alex that Brad told him that he was going to "try to get with me" when he first started on the crew. I'm fairly certain my belligerence and name-calling deterred him. This May Aaric moved back home and quit. I didn't think I would ever have a friend like him again. A few days before Aaric quit, Kevin also quit because he found a better job. Our crew was getting smaller and smaller.
Earlier this year, Gary moved to an earlier time so we got a new supervisor named Tony. Yes, another Tony. We called him Sup Tony. Everyone was a lot happier with Tony as a sup because he actually used his head and didn't bark orders at his crew members. At the end of every night he would thank us and tell us what a good job we had done. I always appreciated that. And plus, he was just way nicer.
After Aaric left we got two new hires, one named Josh and one named Lorenzo. Josh was always willing to work his butt off and Lorenzo refused to get in the plane, claiming that he was too big or sick. I had just went through my breakup when they got hired so I didn't really talk to them at first. Josh and I really hit it off when I drove him around in a tug on cleanup one night. Lorenzo and I didn't always see eye to eye because he was so lazy.
Maybe not even a month or so later, we got two more new hires, EJ and Clare. EJ was this old guy with a weird shoulder slouch, molester drawstring pants, and gardening gloves. He would always say bizarre things so oftentimes he would end up as the butt of our jokes. Clare and I started talking about where we were from one night and pretty much couldn't stop. We became inseparable and I still consider us to be so. We had many of the same interests in music, movies, and a similar sense of humor.
At this point in time, we had another sup change. Tony moved up to an earlier crew and we ended up with Jae. Luckily annoying Brad got moved to an earlier start time as well.
With EJ and Clare as additions to our crew, Yellow Tony and Black Tony moved up to earlier crews. We had an older guy, named Chris work on our crew for awhile, but he ended up getting transferred too.
Lorenzo quit very soon because he was working two jobs and the other one paid more. EJ quit as well, claiming the job didn't "fulfill his mental capabilities." The only person still on the crew that I got hired on with was Anthony. Then we had a new hire named Devin, who didn't last long because his attendance was terrible.
Not too long ago, we had yet another transfer named Chris come to our crew from an earlier start time. He was very proud of his seniority and willing to tell anyone about that was around him for a couple of minutes. This is hardly worth mentioning but we just got a new hire that worked on the crew for about three days before she was fired for poor attendance. Her name was D'Erica. Clare and I went on all night about how she was "d'fired" and "d'out of here," etc.
Working with Jae was really frustrating most of the time because he acted a lot like the first supervisor I had, Gary. He was all right to talk to as a person but not always the best boss.
Clare, Josh, and I were pretty much inseparable all summer long, especially Josh and I. He really made going to work worth it and I had a lot of fun talking to him every night and making faces. We had another new hire, named Brad, whom we affectionately refer to as "Wibs." Wibs and I have a love-hate relationship which is mainly more hate. Nearly everything we say to one another is an insult. Then one day there was a falling out between Josh and I and a very awkward period when we didn't talk. Then we patched things up and work was a lot better again. The crew now consisted of Anthony, Josh, Clare, Wibs, Chris, and I.
This Tuesday Jae said, "We're getting some new hires today so that means we need people to move up. Anyone interested?" I raised my hand, immediately. It was a decision I had made long before. I was ready. This was something I needed to do for myself. Everything on the crew was back to being fun again but I knew I couldn't let that hold me back.
The next day I had my new assignment: my old supervisor Tony! Of all the sups on the ramp, I wanted him the most. I never thought it would actually happen though. Yellow Tony is on his crew so going into it, I'll at least know someone. I now get to start at 11:45 instead of 1:45, don't have to do cleanup at the end of the night, etc. I was excited about it all last week and didn't really have a chance to sit down and think about it because I was so tired and busy with school. But last night was my final night as a "late crew" member. After a year and half, I'm the one making my exodus. All last night we spent laughing and talking, anticipating breakfast at Shoney's after work, and Jae was being cool because he knew it was my last night (and Anthony's too).
Clare, Wibs, Chris that loves his seniority, Chris that loves to work out and eat, Anthony, Josh, Jae, and I all went out to breakfast and spent the majority of the time making fun of Wibs. I was on fire with my jokes for some reason today. Why couldn't I be more funny when these people were around me perpetually? It was like now that I was leaving, I was allowed to be a different, more confident person. Albeit sad, I did feel confident and ready. Josh had been giving me looks all night and it really just summed up our whole relationship. We are defined by our looks. Clare was visibly sad all night and Wibs kept on insulting me.
It didn't really hit me until people started leaving that it would be the last time that things would ever be like this again. It reminded me of Drew Baylor in Elizabethtown who said, "I've become a secret connoisseur of last looks, you know, the way people look at you when they believe it will be for the last time."
The two Chris(es) got up to leave and Anthony. I realized that Anthony was the only one I hadn't been separated from the entire time I have been employed. "This is the first time we're going to be split up! I'm never going to see you again!"
"We'll see each other again," he said, his kind smile assuring me that he was right.
Josh again, kept staring at me all through breakfast and we all kept joking around. He had this fleece hat on that he had sticking up really high. "You look like a Russian," I said. He moved the hat down and rolled it up. "Now you look like you should be loitering outside of an Aldi." Everyone laughed and agreed he looked like a bum. It got real quiet when Josh just yells, "F*** ya'll! I'm homeless!" More bursts of laughter. When Josh got up to leave he came over to me and placed his hands on my shoulders. "Can I have a hug? I'm like never going to see you again..." We hugged, "Hit me up sometime." Deep down in my belly I felt a happy warmth, and I'm fairly certain it wasn't the scrambled eggs (though delicious).
Then the four of us were left: Clare, Wibs, Jae, and I. We eventually made our way to the parking lot and exchanged hugs. Clare was giving me the puppy dog face and we decided that my leaving the crew just meant that we would have to hang out in the real world more. I feel like I haven't seen the last of these people.
It's been a crazy ride and I feel all mixed up with different feelings. I miss the comfort of my old crew and the memories associated with it but know in my heart that this promotion is exactly what I needed. Some of these people I've only know a few months and already I feel a stronger sense of loss than when I got broken up with by someone I'd know for over a year and a half. We have all diverged into our respective new places and it will only be a matter of time before we're shaken up again. But isn't that what life's really about? Collecting stories, collecting friendships, and best of all, actually feeling something once it's all gone.