I have written about some of my time in Houston, TX, and some about my experiences ironworking. As previously stated, it was a crazy crowd that I worked with, consisting mostly of alcoholics and drug addicts. It was hot, grueling work where tempers flared and cuss words continually exploded out of the mouths of everybody. This is one of those stories that is true, and you have some reservations about it being a good story, but will admit it’s at least a little bit funny. Being there, it was really funny, and just happens to be part of my history, so I felt compelled to document it as such.

Ed was our foreman, and he was a real rounder. Ed grew up with several brothers, and they fought continually. Ed wasn’t afraid to mix it up with anybody on the crew, and no one could match up, so what Ed said was the law. Most of the time this didn’t translate into really bad things, but there was always the exception.

This story took place down in Galveston, TX, when we were working on a couple of jobs down there. I already mentioned that EVERYONE had substance abuse issues. We were all functioning addicts of some kind, and most of us with multiple issues. Everyone drank beer, and scraping together money for beer at the end of the day was common practice.

Most of the time we went somewhere to eat at lunch, which Ed finally determined was really hurting our beer drinking budget. Someone had the bright idea that if we pooled all our lunch money and bought a loaf of bread and a bottle of mustard and some meat, it would be much cheaper. THEN, someone decided lunch meat for 7 or 8 people would be too expensive, and that one person would go in for the bread and spread, and one person would get the lunchmeat on a five-finger discount. Then we would have enough for our beer that day. Well, if you ever read my story about my early episodes of stealing, you KNOW I just didn’t cotton to this at all. I told them I would buy whatever, but I wasn’t about to steal any lunch meat.

That day, we piled into the truck at lunchtime, and headed to a small convenience store in Galveston where we were working. It was one of those stores that never seemed to get a lot of business and you wondered how in the world it ever stayed open. It was run by some oriental people, I’m guessing that they were Vietnamese. We had pre-determined that I would go in and buy bread and spread, Larry would go in and head to the cooler to find a couple of packs of meat.

I was to enter first with Larry close behind me then splitting off, and someone was going to give it a few seconds and come in to get a pack of cigarettes to distract the cashier. Even after discussing who should do what, Ed, who was driving the truck, ended up coming in for the smokes. He was originally supposed to just drive the get-away vehicle.

I was nervous as I entered the store anod smiled at the cute little Vietnamese gal behind the cash register. I headed back to the bread as Larry made for the meat cooler. I heard Ed enter the door a few seconds later, giving Larry time to begin the deed, and distract the cashier. I grabbed a loaf of bread and found the mustard quickly, and turned for the counter, hoping that Larry had had enough time to do his thing. I had no idea how long it took to shoplift meat.

As I turned, I noted that Ed was still at the counter, trying his best to flirt with the girl as a distraction. Suddenly this horribly shrill voice is screaming, “MEAT IN PANTS!! MEAT IN PANTS!! MEAT IN PANTS!!”. My GOSH, I think it was worse than any alarm could ever have been! It was so loud and shrill …. like a Pterodactyl Mina bird. And it just kept shrieking!

I was heading towards the counter. I couldn’t see what Larry was doing, but I thought I had a pretty good idea. The girl was still shrieking, “Meat in Pants!!”, and when I looked at the counter where Ed still was, I noted that he had given up on distracting the Pterodactyl, and he turned towards Larry, and hollers, “Pull down your pants Larry, she wants to see your meat!”, then turned and headed out the door.

Even in all the excitement, and the tension of being involved in a situation like this, I almost fell out laughing. Even Larry was laughing as he headed out the door.

I watched as the company truck zoomed out of the parking lot to a pre-determined spot half a block down the road. The girl nervously took my money for the bread and spread, and I left quickly. It was really nerve-racking being the last one on the scene and watching your crew speed away down the road without you.

I was still giggling about the mayhem inside the store, and Ed adding fuel to the fire. It was just like him to do something like that. I turned off the sidewalk down to the part of the bay that we had decided to meet at. The boys were all howling about the story. I flung the bread and spread up in the truck and climbed in, looked at Larry and said, “Pull up your pants Larry, I don’t want to see NOTHING!”.

We decided that a different plan might be in order for saving our lunch money from then on. Galveston was small and it wasn’t worth going to jail over a stolen sandwich. No matter, because I can still hear a Pterodactyl screeching, “MEAT IN PANTS!!, MEAT IN PANTS!!”