As you may know from a previous post, I spent a couple college summers in the sixties working at a large warehouse for a major tire manufacturer. It was a physically demanding job that was done by a handful of hard Jersey men. I was affectionately known as the “college puke.”
One of the things the guys did in order to deal with the fatigue and tedium that often were part of a day’s work was to mercilessly ride one another and to play jokes, which would be laughed about for days and which invariably provided the grist for future derision. Notably, the jokes, such as the following, were not limited to the employees.
We had a driver for a tire dealer in Pennsylvania who would drive the dealer’s truck to the Warehouse a couple times per week to pick up a load of tires. His name was “Baldy.” No kidding. That’s what he called himself, and he even signed the bills of lading as “Baldy” (Something I now know must have driven the lawyers nuts).
It was break time on a hot summer day, and everyone (including Baldy who had to wait for us to load his truck) had gotten something to drink from the lunch truck that made the rounds of the local factories and warehouses. Some guys also bought something to eat. As we were sitting on the shipping dock, the subject turned to good places to eat and good food, and to the best of my recollection, went something like this:
Baldy: “Hey, I know of a place in Jersey that makes a great sandwich.”
Frenchy: (A Jersey guy, but he had a French last name — ergo “Frenchy”) “What the f**k do you know, Baldy? You’re from f**kin’ Pennsylvania.”
Baldy: “F**k you, Frenchy. I’ve been drivin’ in Jersey for years. I probably know more about this f**kin’ state than you do.”
Frenchy: “OK Mr. Smart Guy. Listen, everybody. F**kin’ Baldy is gonna tell us all where to get a good sandwich.”
Baldy: “You know where Route 17 and Route 4 come together there around Paramus?”
The Guys: “Yeah.”
Baldy: “Well, there’s a guy there who sells food from a trailer. You know da guy I mean?”
Frenchy: “Yeah, I know the guy. He’s been there for years. Sells hot dogs and shit.”
Baldy: “He don’t just sell hot dogs. He makes a sandwich you guys gotta try someday.”
The Guys: “Fer Chrissakes, Baldy, what kind of sandwich is it?”
Baldy: “Da guy fries little pieces of green pepper, then he dumps a scrambled egg over the peppers and fries them up together, while he is toasting the hard roll. When the egg and peppers are done, he puts them on the toasted hard roll with a little butter. It’s f**kin’ delicious.”
Frenchy: “You mean he actually fries the egg and the peppers together and then makes a sandwich out of it?”
Baldy: “Yeah, and it’s f**kin’ terrific. You oughta try one.”
Frenchy: (with a noticeable gleam in his eye) “Waddya call that sandwich, Baldy?”
Baldy: “Waddya mean, what do I call the sandwich?”
Frenchy: “Just what I said. Waddya call that f**kin’ sandwich? A hamburger?”
Baldy: “No, it’s a pepper and egg sandwich.”
The Guys: (Massive guffaws, accompanied by calling Baldy a Pennsylvania asshole and much worse)
Baldy had stepped in the trap and paid the price.
The good news is that everybody liked Baldy, and he laughed along with us (of course, after calling us all “assholes”). For the rest of the summer, every time Baldy showed up, took a ration of shit about the gourmet delight, which, but for his “discovery,” would have remained unknown to the Garden State and quite possibly the rest of the world – the pepper and egg sandwich.
When it came to jokes, the guys didn’t cut the “College Puke” any slack, but that’s a story for another day.