Just a couple of miles to the east of my home town (Mullinville) is a Northern Natural Gas station. At the time we were growing up there was always at least a 10 man crew for all three shifts.
A lot of my friends Dads worked out there and their shifts changed every week or so. They worked three shifts; 8 to 4, 4 to midnight or midnight to 8.
The men came from Mullinville, Greensburg and even some from Bucklin to work there. Stories abounded about the crew at the plant and the fun that they had together.
They became a family that was overflowing with jokesters. I have wondered how they came up with some of the jokes they pulled on each other. Was there something in the water in the area or there wasn’t much else to do in our small town but think up jokes to pull on each other.
Most of the men carried the old metal lunch box that was rectangular on the bottom and the lid was rounded with a handle bolted in the middle of the lid. The lid allowed for a thermos to be suspended in it and the meal was placed in the bottom of the lunch box.
One man loved to steal the men’s sandwiches from their lunch boxes. He would sneak into the break room while the men were working in the engine room. Once alone in the break room he would open each and every locker and look in the lunch box.
He searched each box looking for the best sandwich. One of his favorites was meat loaf and it was what he was looking for everyday, but would settle for something else if meatloaf was not available.
He usually managed to get the sandwich and eat it before any one caught him but once in awhile a man would come back to the break room for something and catch him in the act of stealing a sandwich. If it wasn’t his sandwich that was being stolen he didn’t bother the sandwich thief and probably didn’t even tell anyone.
The man that lost the sandwich never knew until he opened his lunch box and his sandwich was gone. Then the yelling began but if the sandwich was already gone and had been eaten there wasn’t much he could do about it.
One of the crew decided to teach the sandwich thief a lesson and made a special sandwich for him to find. It looked just like meatloaf between the pieces of bread. He wrapped it up in wax paper just like all the sandwiches and placed it in his lunch box. He conveniently left his lunch box sitting on the bench of the locker room for the sandwich thief to find and went to work.
They had the man working closest to the locker room keep an eye out for the sandwich thief to go in for his morning search for a sandwich. They didn’t have to wait long before the he entered the locker room to search for a sandwich he wanted to steal.
When the man that had brought the sandwich was alerted that the sandwich thief was in there, he made a mad dash for the locker room. The man who owned the sandwich entered the locker room watching the sandwich thief’s every move.
The owner of the sandwich watched as the sandwich thief opened the lunch box and discovered what he thought was a meatloaf sandwich and grabbed it up and shut the lid on the box. At the instant he unwrapped the sandwich the owner jumped out and shouted at the thief to put his sandwich back.
The surprised sandwich thief started to run with the sandwich in his hand; he left the locker room and ran down through the engine room where all the other men were working.
The sandwich thief was gulping down the sandwich as he ran through the engine room and the owner of the sandwich was yelling at the thief all the way to give him back his sandwich; but allowed the thief to stay just out of reach. When the sandwich thief was down to the last bite the owner of the sandwich grabbed him from behind.
As the sandwich thief swallowed the last bite of the sandwich he was informed that it was not meatloaf that he had eaten but the sandwich was made from dog food.
The other men had managed to keep a straight face until then but the look on the sandwich thief’s face was too much and they could not hold back any longer. All the men, except the sandwich thief, began to laugh at the joke. It took him a long time to see the humor in the joke but after a few years he also thought it was funny and would tell the story and laugh at himself.
There was also a young skinny kid that liked to grab the whole lunch box and run with it to get the guys to chase him. I don’t think he ever ate their lunch but just liked the thrill of the chase.
One man got tired of chasing the young man to get his lunch back and decided to teach the kid a lesson. He brought in an old lunch box that he didn’t use any more, because the screws that held the handle on were loose. He placed the box with his name on it in front of his locker.
Then he went to the shop and brought back a huge log chain. It was almost more than he could carry but he managed to get it stuffed in the lunch box. It filled it all the way to the top.
Since the other men put their boxes in their lockers that day the only one the kid could grab and run with was the one on the bench. When the crew came in for lunch the kid ran and grabbed the handle and started to run off with it.
The log chain was heavy enough that the lunch box didn’t move but it pulled him up short before the handle came off in his hand and the force threw him onto the floor. I can just hear the raucous laughter from that little stunt.
So whether it was meat loaf, ham, dog food, or a log chain lunch the jokesters at the booster station never had a dull moment at work. To contact Sandy: [email protected]