Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Rogue Link of Bob Evans

There are several airplane graveyards in desert locations out West. In one is, perhaps, an Allegheny Airlines DC-9, the plane I took my first business trip on after graduating from Bowling Green State University. I had only flown three or four times my whole life up to that point. Most of my traveling, as a boy, had been by Greyhound, leaving Defiance for Toledo where I would catch a different bus that stopped in Findlay, Upper Sandusky, Marion, Chillicothe, Jackson, Gallipolis, Charleston and finally dropping me in Beckley, WV, to spend the summer with my grandmother. It was a great way to turn a seven hour trip into 13-14 hours, plus I got to see lots of farms and forests in both states and sample various versions of egg salad sandwiches at bus stops.

It was a chilly April morning in Dayton when I boarded the Allegheny flight for New York. I had never been there, so visions of Broadway, Times Square, Central Park, muggings and crime had me sky-high before we ever lifted off. Younger readers will have to follow me here, and believe it, when I say that airlines used to serve a small, but adequate, breakfast to fliers. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it is true.

The stewardess wheeled the cart to my row and asked if I would care for the eggs and sausage breakfast, the hot cereal or the cold cereal. Well, DUH!, like in 1976 a young man would choose Cheerios or oatmeal over scrambled eggs and Bob Evans. I was savoring a bite of my lukewarm  toast with grape jelly when the whole trip took a different turn. As I stabbed my plastic fork into a sausage link it slid across the tray and plopped into my lap, where no man of any age wants a two inch sausage-shaped grease stain. Then it fell to the floor and before I could move my tray and bend down to get it, it rolled toward the back of the plane. 

I have no explanation for the rage it caused.  I wanted that link, not to eat, but to capture it, cut into little pieces and dump it into the vomit bag that I hadn’t used for airsickness.
Seated behind me was an elderly woman, every bit over eighty-five, covered with a knitted shawl and clutching her purse with every last ounce of being. I stood and turned, plastic knife in one hand, fork in the other, and barked at her, “Did you see my sausage?” The creamy pallor drained from her skin. “I know it rolled back here and it is probably around your feet.”

As I think back now, she likely thought she was in one of those nightmares where something bad is going to happen to you and suddenly your voice is gone. You open your mouth to scream and even the hiss of the escaping air has no sound. Lucky for her the stewardess returned, pulling the food cart, and ask if she could help. 

“I am looking for my sausage.”

“Sir, could you please take your seat? I am sure the crew can get it once we land.”

I hate it when people can be so forceful using only a smile and a nice tone of voice. The alternative was being the first person on the “No Fly List” thirty years before it was even started. Then there is that runaway sausage, probably nestled in a crack or crevice enjoying eternity in the warm Arizona desert, as a slab of parts-is-parts pork

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