Sack of Peas

February 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

Ever cross paths with someone from your past and want to avoid them, even though you had no negative experiences or falling out? It happens to me every now and again. While I’m not anti-social, I’ve grown wiser over the years, and am good at staying out of trouble. Part of ‘staying out of trouble’ is knowing whom to be caught associating with.

An old acquaintance has resurfaced, and his family is all over the news these days. This is about my old co-worker. His name is John, but we called him Sackapeas…

I spent the majority of the ’90s working for a Nationally Recognized Chain of convenience stores on a notorious NE Portland corner. It was full of sketchy characters, inside and out. I worked with many colorful folk: Timberly, the kid who did way too much meth and once called 911 because “aliens had landed on the roof.” Sam, whose social retardation made him a star candidate for Jerry Springer. (He once had to go home because his “girlfriend was wearing his cowboy hat.”) They were tame compared to Sackapeas.

Sackapeas got his nickname from The Bookkeeper. She’d count money and balance books on the weekend. She once told me that she hated talking to John, because as he approached she could see him practicing a clever line to lay on her. Then he’d start talking, and “it was like a giant sack of dried peas with a corner cut off. You can never stop the dribble…” Henceforth John became known as Sackapeas.

The biggest drawback (and benefit) to hanging out with Sackapeas was his drinking. I loved to drink, was well into the heavy stages of alcoholism, but was a lightweight compared to Sackapeas. He took drinking at work to a new level.

I was happy to sneak a couple beers throughout the course of the night. While it was not condoned, it was tolerated. At three, five and seven hours into the shift, if I dipped into the bathroom or to the bar next door for five minutes? Nobody cared. Or noticed. I was good at covering my tracks. Altoid?

Sackapeas, on the other hand, had to have a can of St Ides about every half-hour to remain functional. He’d get the sweats and shakes, get crabby as fuck and have to go home. I’d look the other way and give him cleaning details. He’d spend hours making the store purty, plus he’d be out of earshot from me, because the more he “cleaned” the more obnoxious and annoying he got. Word got back to the boss, who scheduled him for shifts when he could keep an eye on him. He didn’t last long.

Sackapeas may have lasted a year. We hung out once in a while. One late night as I got off shift, Sackapeas invited himself and Owen to my place for beers. Since he was buying and I was off the next day, WTF. Let’s party.

Owen looked like Nic Cage with a ’70s porn star mustache. After five cans of St Ides he got his head stuck in my garbage can while throwing up. Sackapeas was looking through my photo album, and puzzling over a closeup of a very recognizable part of the female anatomy. He could not figure out what it was.

“C’mon, dude! You’ve got five kids! You should know what that is…”

“I have no fuckin’ clue,” said Sackapeas.

“Let’s ask Owen.” I helped pull the trashcan off his head, and pointed. “Owen? What’s that a picture of?”

He glanced at the black and white mound of hair. “That’s a pussy!” He pronounced it pushy.

We would bring that up every time one of his kids did or said something smart. “Must have got the brains from their mom. Or their dad…”

Sackapeas was a propagator. He had five kids at the time, four daughters and a son. He was married, but theirs was a tumultuous relationship. Mrs Peas was in the military, an up-and-comer, and had a speech prepared while bucking for promotion. Sackapeas, drunk as usual, thought it’d be funny to remove her speech from her briefcase and replace it with sex toys. When she reached the podium and saw what he’d done, she ran out of the room crying. Her military service ended shortly after that.

That’s the kind of thing that makes you wary of being someone’s friend.

Eventually he was fired from the Nationally Recognized Chain, and we lost contact. I was glad, because I knew associating with him was a losing proposition. I kept my job about six years longer than he did, and since he left in a rage of drunken fumes, we didn’t have to deal with him hanging around all the time.

And now he has resurfaced. In spades.

While riding the bus last week, I saw him. I boarded, flashed my pass and headed for the rear of the bus, hoping he hadn’t recognized me. I plugged in headphones, put on sunglasses and stared out the window. Am I lucky?

Nope, he saw me.

He followed me to the back, and sat across the bus. I pretended to be oblivious, and he sat quietly. As we approached the end of the line, I got up and moved away quickly. I paid no attention after deboarding, and hurried home. Dodge a bullet?


The next morning I decide to take the train to work, and there he is at the MAX stop. Shit! As I’m trying to think of a polite way to say “Dude, I don’t want you at my house, or knowing where I live…” he made it easy. He left the platform and walked down to where the buses were. Phew.

And now I’m seeing his family members everywhere. Not in person, but on the internet. In the news. Those cute, smart kids of his? Two have been arrested; one for theft, the other for prostitution. And now one of his other daughters has been involved in a car accident, and his ex-wife, the military gal, was on the news. The family’s fifteen minutes of fame are ticking away this week.

After all the shit that’s happened to him the last week or so, I’m almost hoping I run into him again, but sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. I’d love to hear his colorful explanations, maybe catch up a little.

Do I really want to open up a brand new can of worms?

Not until I learn how to shut down a dribbling sack of peas…

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