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Job Interview

Christopher John Korp

Going home for the holidays? It's a long way between here and there, but the journey starts with the baggage handlers. Christopher John Korp has been a baggage handler with United Airlines for longer than he cares to admit. Heidi Pollock caught up with Chris on his day off to find out about this oft-misunderstood job. And just what your baggage goes through while you're not looking.

Heidi: What is your job?

Chris: My job is to go to an aircraft that comes in and grab the passengers' bags that have incredibly tight connection times and bring those bags to the tight- connection flight. And then I go on break--I hide-- for about 45 minutes. You prolong it for a while by going to the smoking room or going upstairs and drinking coffee or whatever in the terminal. And then I go back and pretend I just got back from working hard. I'm union.

Heidi: Do you like your job?

Chris: Oh yeah. It's the best job. We get to fly for free. We get to give friends buddy passes.

Heidi: How long have you been doing this?

Chris: For a while.

Heidi: What kind of baggage do you hate the most?

Chris: The worst kind is the ever-zipping and extending luggage. It's a sack that you keep extending until it's like the size of, say, your grandmother. And they stuff it with canned goods. And the people that use them ship them either to Seoul, Korea, or Taipei. For Manila, they pack exclusively in cardboard boxes that say "balikbayan" on the side. It means "going home." If there are 400 bags on a trip going to Manila, 290 to 300 are "balikbayan" boxes.

Heidi: Do you hang out with the people you work with?

Chris: I went to high school with some of them. We have fun.

Heidi: What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen?

Chris: When I was working inbounds--that's right before you receive your bag on the carousel--this bag ripped open. It had this amazing dildo that had this turning fist on top of it. So we shoved it in the bag, turned it on, zipped it up so it stuck out on top and sent it up. We had to continue loading the flight, and by the time we went upstairs it was the only bag up there on the belt. I guess the person was too embarrassed to pick it up.

Heidi: What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

Chris: I'd be back working at Bobby McGee's as a costumed, singing waiter.

Heidi: Where?

Chris: At Bobby McGee's. They're all over. One's in Burlingame. Kato Kaelin is an alumni. I was a British Bobby, a Sherlock Holmes and a leprechaun--I think the ears helped. You can't give up your true identity. You have to stay in character the whole time, otherwise, you get in trouble.

Heidi: Do you believe in free speech?

Chris: Yes.

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From the December 1997 issue of the Metropolitan.

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