By Trent Rosser
Last week, I had to go to the store to get supplies for work. I work in Pampa, but I live in Amarillo. Pampa is where the main headquarters for my job is located. We do have a yard here in Amarillo, where we store some of our heavy machinery, but if we are not working on a specific job (Amarillo, Lubbock, Odessa, Oklahoma), we go to the shop in Pampa. As some of you know, I used to live in Pampa when I was 15 and lived there about a year or so. My grandmother lived there and I moved in with her. Now when I walked into the store last week, I was flooded with memories. We had to go to Tractor Supply, but I will always remember it as the old Safeway grocery store. Walking into the store was shocking to say the least. There was nothing that even resembled that a grocery store was there. Working at Safeway as a sacker was my first job. I still remember my first day there. Most of the cashiers knew who I was because, Jason (my cousin) and I were always there playing the games. Trust me, they saw us there! We were told that they would start providing plastic bags as well as the old brown paper sacks and when they come in, we are to ask the customer, “Would you like paper or plastic bags?”
My first day was almost over as the craziness started. As a cashier was showing me how to restock the paper bags, we heard a crash, then a little kid cry. We both thought that a glass bottle fell and hit him on the head. When we rounded the corner of the aisle that the sound came from, I saw a sight that I would never forget. A woman was crying and holding her nose as blood was gushing out like a waterfall. She looked at us, pointed to a man next to her and yelled, “HE HIT ME!”. The young cashier looked as if she seen a ghost. The man looked at us and said, “She hit me first.” as he stormed past us. The manager was called and they took the lady up the stairs to the offices. About 15 minutes later an older man walked in with a shotgun and asked, “Where is my daughter?” He was mad. The police showed up and did reports; the whole nine yards. Again, this was my first day at my first job. Welcome to the workforce!
My cousin Jason was out in the parking lot the entire time. He was suppose to pick me up and we were going to go cruising in his truck. When I did get off work that night, he was gone. I had to walk home. When I called him to find out what happened, his reply was priceless. "I was sitting there, waiting for you, when a man walks in with a shotgun. A few minutes later the cops show up." Again, I’m 15 years old, with no license, no tags, jamming out to Iron Maiden. "I was sure you smashed someone's bread and they came back and shot ya. No use me getting in trouble for underage driving!"
Jason and I cruised just about every street in Pampa back in 1987. We chased girls, and sometimes, we chased people that we thought were girls. We once chased a small car called a Yugo. The windows were tinted and we thought that there were some girls in the car. After about 3 hours of playing “Tag” with them in my Camaro against their Yugo, they finally pulled over in the high school parking lot. Jason was starting to get excited to meet a couple of girls and find out who they were. After all, both of our teenage hormones were raging by this time. When the passenger door opened up, the largest leg I have ever seen stepped out. We were partially right. There were 3 people in the car. They were the largest people I have ever seen. You could hear the shocks of the Yugo sigh a relief when all three giants was fully out of the car. Both our jaws dropped and all I could hear Jason say, “DRIVE, DRIVE, DRIVE!!”. It was about this time that the old Camaro overheated and died on us. We were dead. Turned out, that they were defensive lineman for West Texas State University (before it became West Texas State A&M University). They were friends and visiting one of their relatives. We chatted with them for about 30 minutes and everyone had a good laugh. We then went our separate ways. When Jason and I took off, he looked at me right in the eye and said, “Those were some pretty big guys. I thought that we were going to die!”
Having to go get supplies in Pampa lately has really brought back some good memories with my cousin Jason and living in small towns. I talked a little about Rogers last week, and how I miss the small town values. Pampa is no different. Even though it is a bit bigger than Rogers, it still had the small town value. Working at the Safeway store taught me that in a small town, everyone knows everyone’s business. Jason and I once skipped class and went to the local burger joint. Afterwards, we went home. I got ready for work. At work, my math teacher came in and I had to sack her groceries: it was her class that I skipped. She knew what we did. It seems that Jason and I were always into some kind of trouble, even if we did not do anything. And then again, sometimes we did do things.
We had a small pile of little pebbles in our backyard. One weekend, we are outside and notice that cars are speeding down our street. It was usually the same pizza delivery guy. So, under the cover of darkness, we made a “Speed bump” that stretched across the street. It was just pebbles, but it looked real. Sure enough, the car came around the corner and hit the gas. When he saw what looked like a speed bump, he hit the brakes hard. Skidding to a near stop, he slowly passed over the pebbles as they spread out from the weight of the car. Neighbors came out to see what happened as they watched the car slowly drive away. It worked great, until the same neighbor told my grandmother the next morning. Jason and I had to sweep the street to get all the pebbles off. Then there was the time that we were just walking back from Allsups getting a coke when we a policeman came running up from nowhere. He asked if we were in the street. We were not, he said okay, and asked if he could use the phone at the house. We walked into the house and he said, “Now wake up your grandmother.” He told her that we were in the street dodging cars. We were not. We were simply walking home, 3 blocks from the store, with soda’s in our hands. Looking back, we were blamed for quite a bit of things that we did not do. But it is all right, we got away with a lot of things that we did do.
All this came flooding back into my mind when I walked into my first job after over 3 decades. Amazing how one thing can bring back so many memories.