Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Legend of ...........

I'm going to start a new series about "The Legend of......." This will be about mechanics that I have met and worked with who have made a lasting impression on me and others. Also since it is the holidays I have been away from the blog for a bit but I will try to keep it going and will resume with regular additions after the new year so thanks for your patience.

My buddy SkyWalker suggested this subject and even the person to start with!! Thanks brother!

The legend of Don Tripp.

Don Tripp used to work with us in Oakland. When I first got the job Tripp was already working there. He was a former Marine and you could tell he was a larger than life type of guy. One of my first memories of Tripp was one midnight shift when I was working at gate 17 doing an Service Check. Tripp was working all the way at gate 25 which is pretty far away in Oakland. I was outside doing something when I hear "FUUU@@@%%%", followed by sparks moving rapidly away from the tail of the plane on gate 25. Tripp was working on an APU, up on a stand and things were not going well. As per his character he was screaming and the sparks were his open end wrench which he threw in his frustration.

Tripp was the quintessential Marine. He told you what he thought and did not give a damn about what you thought. To be honest when I first started here I was intimidated by him. I knew he was tough and I was still new to this whole Line MX game.

For a while we Oakland Mechs were going to San Jose for one Service Check and any MELs and then onto San Francisco for any MEL issues. We did this with a bread truck stocked with parts and able to carry any additional things we would need for the trip. We all took turns going down to San Jose but after a while the same few guys would go. Tripp was one of those guys. He liked to travel and do the non-scheduled work involved in that type of job. Tripp had worked in San Jose at his previous job and had famously stood at the open R-1 door of an MD-80 as it was being tugged from the remote parking to the gate wearing nothing but his combat boots! (Since it was his last day there it seemed like the thing to do.)

Tripp would do things like pounce on crickets and catch moths and then shove them into his mouth and eat them, apparently they taste like peanut butter. Tripp wore old school marine corps shorts that were wayyy short and always a Hawaiian shirt for I.D. pictures.

Tripp was a pretty good mechanic but I'm not sure how he would survive in this day of computer-jet. He was definitely an old school, old-iron, hit and beat it until it worked type of guy. He went through Mag-Lites regularly simply because he beat them to death.

The man had no type of table manners and in fact often had a box of Entemanns chocolate donuts for lunch followed by a carton of milk. He chewed and talked with his mouth open and cussed like the marine he was. While he worked in Oakland he dated a woman who ran an escort service and lived in a condo with little furniture but for some reason it had a barbers chair in it. He collected frogs, and adult movies.

By the time the end came for Tripp he had become a close friend. I respected him and appreciated his I am what I am ways. The end was not very graceful for Tripp and it was full of controversy. He was put in a bad spot by a person he thought was a friend and that made him go over the edge. The early days at Oakland maintenance could not be considered complete without Tripp and I will not soon forget his honesty with everyone and his interesting troubleshooting methods (remember the Mag-Lites?).

I think that knowing Tripp during my early years of Line Maintenance helped to sculpt me and in many ways helped me to find my voice and realize that I could also speak up and say what I thought also. We miss having Tripp here and I wish him well wherever he may end up.