This was an article published in the Chicago Tribune way back in 1991, two years after I hung up the bungee cords and moved to Los Angeles. I thought the dockporter scene might be an interesting idea for an article and I needed money so I "blind queried" the editor of the travel section and told him I had written an entertaining article with a "midwest travel angle." He wrote back a week or so later (yes, kids, he wrote back) and said "let me see the article."
Since I hadn't actually written it, there was a tense week or so, but I knocked it out, pulling quotes (okay fine, making up quotes) from my buddies, including my future co-author Jim Bolone whose name I misspelled (BA-lone).
Three weeks later I was sent a check for 1,500 dollars and a proof of the article. It ran in the paper shortly after. The publication of the article probably planted the seed that this was a subculture worth exploring and led me eventually to writing a script, which was then adapted into a novel.
It just took awhile.
MILDLY INTERESTING TRIVIA: we've decided as former dockporters to make the job name one word and that's how it appears in the novel. But back then I was going with the two-word approach, which is grammatically correct but, according the MIDPA Facebook Group, boring.