We were the nicknamingest group of people I’ve ever been associated with. I know that many groups of people do a lot of nicknames and it’s not my intent to compete for an unwinnable title, but I will share some of our prizes now and again. This installment is Jim Peiper. Jim was a big guy and had been around for a while when I got there. I guess he was an okay controller—I really don’t remember working with him very much. But Jim was one of those guys whose brain didn’t always have a real good connection with his mouth and he wound up saying really stupid things occasionally. His grandmother may have been Mrs. Malaprop. Someone tagged him with the nickname BDK—Big Dumb Kid.

BDK had finished a distant second in a fractious divorce proceeding and was living practically hand-to-mouth in a local short term housing establishment (might even have been the place I was staying in my first few months)—what came to be known as the Heartbreak Motel, as it was often used by controllers experiencing bouts of marital discord, hopefully of a temporary nature.

His car was an old beater. It was a tank, such as an Olds 98 or Pontiac Bonneville—one of those ‘60s cars which had an aircraft carrier hood, tractor tires, and an engine displacement which could be measured in cubic feet. To add insult to injury it was a nondescript brown of some kind. Not a color you would order on a new car, but the sort of brown a car turns when the original paint is finally giving its last vestiges of pigment over to subterranean rust. I said beater, meaning it had definitely seen better days. Someone dubbed it the African Queen. For all I know, BDK might still be driving it.

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