About Me

I feel the wanderlust and the call of the open highway. Which is good, because I drive cars for a living. But I'm a writer, and someday hope to once again make my living using my writing skills.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

'TIS BETTER TO GIVE CHRISTMAS

As I drove through Colorado on Christmas morning, I was full of joy.  This is the day Santa visits all the kids around the world, whether they were naughty or nice.  This was the day that Jesus was born in a manger.  This is still the one day that most people go out of their way to be kind to others, and friends and family find forgiveness for past mistakes and rejoice in love for each other.

The snow covered the ground, and it was in fact a White Christmas.  I would be spending it alone on the road, and that did leave a little bit of sadness in my heart.  But I had finally pestered my boss Riff enough and he had sent me a check for what he owed me, namely $3500.  It wasn't enough to make me rich, but it was the first time in a very long time that I could remember being ahead financially.

My cell phone rang, and the one thing I was sure of is it wouldn't be my boss on the line.  He was no doubt three sheets to the wind celebrating this magical holiday.  "Hello, this is Bill," I answered.

"Bill-dog, this is Jenny on the ranch."

"Hey girl, Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you, too.  Tom and I were just wondering if you might make it by here to share some turkey with us."

"I would love to, but I'm up in Colorado and headed west."

"So that's a no?"

"Unfortunately."

"Damn it.  We miss you.  And you've been here several times in December over the past few years."

"I know, and I wish I could.  But duty calls."

"Yep.  Just know that we love you and are praying for you."  We chatted for a minute, then hung up.  I had received several calls over the last hour from friends who were thinking about me.  Friends who had let me stay in their homes many times when I passed through their city. 

I thought about how lucky I was to have all those friends.  Then I remembered the family I grew up with, and what Christmas was like when I was a kid.  It was all about receiving, not giving, and I could not wait each year to see what I was getting.  It was an exciting and exilhirating time for me, and it was only as an adult that I enjoyed giving special things to each person and watch their faces as they open them. 

Sometimes I feel like I don't have the lifestyle that I wish I could, living in a nice house, driving a nice car, taking vacations to Hawaii.  But on this day, all I could think about was the less fortunate, folks who don't have enough to buy presents for their kids or even afford a decent Christmas dinner. 

I scrolled through my cell phone and decided to call Pastor Rex, my old friend and confidante.  "Merry Christmas," he said as a phone greeting.

"Merry Christmas to you, pal."

"Bill, so good to hear from you."

"I need some important advice."

"I can always give you advice, important or not."

"I just got some back pay that I've been waiting for two years.  I feel strongly compelled to give $2500 of it to a charity for Christmas."

"Go right ahead, I think that's an excellent idea."

"Well if I'm going to do it, I want to be sure that I choose the very best charity where the money will stretch and do the most good."

I could practically hear Rex smiling on the other end of the phone.  "You came to the right place."

And he gave me all the information I needed.  Then I was able to share my money with those who really need it the most.  And it felt really terrific.  You should try it.  Merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A GRUMPY RAY-RAY

My old buddy and attorney John Hazzard was telling me on the phone the other day that one of the paralegals at his office had been reading my blogs and saw them all as an allegory for how I am mistreated in life.  That it reflects that everyone I meet is a bully whose mission in life is to harass me.  I don't see it that way at all.

A Driving Fool is all about my travels around the United States, all the many places I see and the often unusual people I meet.  I don't feel victimized by any of them, mostly I just feel amused that so many odd people find their way to me.  Everyone passes these strange people I write about, but most folks choose to simply ignore them.  I engage, and therefore have experiences to write about.  But these blogs are also meant to reflect how I try to help other people wherever I go, and how sometimes they help me right back.

I was in St. Louis where a new Drivers of America office had opened.  I dropped a car off and the St. Louis office manager told me he had a car for me to take to Sacramento, CA.  But it would not be ready for two days, and I was asked if I would help out with some local work, which I was happy to do for some more money.  When I arrived early at the office on the cold December morn, there were two other drivers already there waiting.  One of them was Danny, a tall skinny retired man with white hair.  The other one was an older black man named Ray, who wore a jaunty beret on top of his bald head.  He was a very loud and animated man.

"Hi guys, I'm Bill Thomas" I said.

Ray started to do what looked like a little jig, and said,  "Well this here is Danny, and I'm Ray, but you can call me Ray-Ray."

"OK."

"What you mean OK?"

I was confused.  "I meant... OK.  Can I use the restroom before we head out?"

Ray shouted.  "First thing in the morning and you gotta take a piss?  Or is it a crap?  Tell me which one."

"I'll be right back," I said, disregarding Ray and headed for the public restroom across the parking lot.  I took care of business as quickly as possible, frustrated as always that my ulcerative colitis rules my actions especially in the morning time.  I tried hard to manage it best I could, and tried even harder not to share the news about my condition with anyone.

When I got back to them, Danny and Ray were in a minivan with the engine running.  I hopped in and Ray said,  "That sure took you long enough.  Yes sir, sure did.  We ain't got all day."  I just chose to keep my mouth shut, but Ray spoke to Danny non-stop about all the girls he had flirted with and got phone numbers from over the past week.  He was bragging and really stretching credulity.

We arrived at a rental outlet that puts older rental cars out to pasture.  We were to drive them over to the Car auction center.  I found my car and did the paperwork, then was ready to drive out of the lot.  But the only opening to exit was blocked by a car with a beautiful girl in her early 20's, and she was being delayed by Ray.  He was leaning on her car window trying to make time with her.  After five minutes, I tapped my horn, and Ray responded by giving me the finger.  That's when I got out of my car and walked up to them.  "Pardon me ma'am, but could you please pull your car up or over so I can get by?"

"Sure," she said.

Ray was very displeased.  "Oh no, uh-uh baby, you ain't going nowhere.  Ray-Ray still got a lot to say-say."  There were 20 other drivers there from various car companies, and Ray's volume level was getting their attention.

I sighed.  "Is there any reason you couldn't say it to her after she pulls over, she's kind of blocking the only exit."

He took in a deep breath, obviously put out with me.  "What's your problem?  What is wrong with you?  You never rush a lady."

"It's OK, I gotta go, Pops," said the pretty girl, and she rolled away.

"Pops?  Pops?  Girl I could have shown you what sweet love really tastes like!"  He turned to me, furious.  "We ain't in no hurry."

"Well, I am."

Ray got extremely loud and started pointing as he spoke, to the left, then to the right, then up, then down.  "Oh, he in a hurry!  He in a hurry!  He in a hurry!  This man is in a big hurry!"

I nodded.  "Thank you for understanding."

"What's the matter, you gotta go crap again?  Do you crap all day long?  You got a crapping problem?"

I felt my face growing warm and was sure that it was bright red.  All those other drivers were hearing Ray announce my restroom problems, so I hit the gas and drove away.

Once we had dropped our cars off at the Car auction, we headed back for more.  And all day long, Ray kept on giving me hell about going to the restroom.  I did not understand his animosity towards me or his dedication to riding my butt and giving me a hard time.  I don't consider most of the people I meet to be bullies, but he sure was.  I tried to just keep my head low and my mouth shut.

At the end of the day as we were driving back to the office, we went through a fancy neighborhood with some huge fancy houses.  Ray looked at them and said to Danny, "One thing for sure, ain't no poor people livin' up in there."  Then he turned to me.  "What is your major problem with women in general?"

"My problem?  There's no problem."

"All day long I was trying to make time with some sweet young things and get me some numbers, and all you want to do is work and go go go."

"I thought I was here to work."

"Don't be a smart ass, man.  I am 69 years old, and I am asking out girls no older than 22 all day.  What do you think about that?"

"I have nothing to say."

"Because you judge me?"

"Nope, because I have nothing to say."

"You're a first class jive turkey."

We got back to the office, and went inside so we could turn in our paperwork.  I went to the restroom, and then came out and was told by the manager that my car was now ready to go.

"Ray-Ray's gotta go tinkle.  That's right, me, Ray-Ray, I use the restroom too."  He went inside, and I spoke to the manager about the car I was going to deliver to California.  When Ray came out again, he did not look at all happy.  "You low down stinking bastard."

I turned to him.  "You talking to me?"

"Who else would I be talking to.  There is a brown smear in the toilet bowl, don't you even know how to clean up after yourself?"

"I only pee'd, that stain was already there."

"You dirty liar!"

Suddenly I felt like I had had enough, and then some.  "I don't lie, and I don't appreciate you calling me a liar."

"All I know is what I know, and that's all I know."

"What do you know?"

"Ray-Ray knows that you are one nasty ass boy, and you ain't got no home training."

The manager Jack spoke up and said, "Ray, I'm the guilty party.  Sorry, I should have taken care of it."

"Don't try to cover for this waste of space, he ain't no good and that's for sure."

I'm usually even tempered, but Ray had pushed me too far.  "Listen Ray, you have been riding me all day long.  I've tried to be nice, I've tried to stay out of your way, but you keep coming at me."

"All I know is what I know."

"But it wasn't him," said Jack.

"I'm just keepin' it real cuz that's how I feel."

"Seems like you hate me, any reason for you to hate me?" I asked him.

"Because you are you, and I hate people like you."

"What kind of people is that?"

"If you need me to tell you, then you already know."

That statement baffled me, but I chose to blow him off.  "Fly away, little bird, fly away and leave me alone."

"What you mean calling me a bird?" he said menacingly.

Now I was seriously dazed and confused.  "Fly away."

"What you meant to say is fly way, Ray-Ray, fly away like a jailbird.  Why you gotta be bringing up my criminal record?  Yes, I sold drugs for thirty years, and got caught and spent ten years in prison."

Jack's brow furrowed.  "You were in prison?"

"Shut up Jack, this don't concern you.  I'm talking to this little punk ass, thinks he owns the world and has all the answers man!"

I grabbed my keys and paperwork and headed for the door.  "Bye guys.

"Wait, no, oh no you don't!  You ain't leaving till I get a few things said."

And I walked out the door.  I still believe that most of the people I meet are eccentric or oddly unique, but often need my help.  This guy was proof that there are bullies out there who will try to push you around just because they don't like you.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

MR. PUSSYKINS

"You will do as I tell you and transport both of them in their car to New Orleans.  Am I clear, you stupid sonuvabitch?" came the bellow from my boss Riff.

"I get it, but I don't understand."

"Don't try!  Don't strain your brain!  Just do as you're told."  Riff hung up first for a change, and I pondered his instruction.  He had told me to pick up an SUV and drive it and the lady who owned it to Louisiana from New Hampshire.  And she would be bringing her cat.  I love dogs, but I don't have the same loving relationship with cats.   Over the years, I have been bitten and scratched deeply by many of my friend's cats, and they can seem content being petted, then spin and surprise you with all claws and teeth.  The thing of it is, Drivers of America is not licensed to carry passengers.  Riff was getting a very good paycheck for this, and I was sure I wouldn't see any of it.  Nothing but the 40 cents per mile he normally paid me.

When I arrived at her house in New Hampshire on the day after Thanksgiving, she came out the front door and seemed very much in distress.  "Are you Bill?  You are late, we need to get going."

I checked the time.  "My boss told me to be here by noon.  It's ten till now."

"Don't be ridiculous, you're wasting time."  I followed her into the house.  "I am Doris Ooglerupe, and I will thank you to call me by my name."  She had a shock of red hair and a deeply wrinkled face.

"OK, Mrs. Ooglerupe."

She spun around and her eyes narrowed.  "That's MISS.  I earned that right by outliving my husband, the dirty bastard."  As I walked through her home, I saw huge piles of magazines nearly as tall as me everywhere.  There was also a very strange smell, and it wasn't a good one.  "You may notice that I save a lot of stuff, and some might be tempted to call me a hoarder.  But I hate those people.  Now I'm going to pack, why don't you go wash the dishes in the kitchen so we can get going."

"You haven't packed yet?" I asked, fearing it would heavily delay our departure.

"Don't be so nosey, and get yourself into the kitchen, those dishes won't wash themselves."  I went into the kitchen and saw dirty dishes stacked high in the sink, on the counter, everywhere.  I rolled up my sleeves and got started, because it would be better than sitting and twiddling my thumbs.  An hour later, I was just getting finished when Doris came in and told me it was time to pack the car.  I began the process, having no idea that she would have so much stuff.  After all of the bags and boxes had been loaded, she handed me a pet carrier with her precious cat inside.  "Your boss said he insists that Mr. Pussykins must stay in her cage while the car is moving.  Which is just silly and ridiculous, she does what she wants when she wants."

As we began our long journey, Doris began to poke me in the shoulder peridodically, sometimes saying "Slow down" and other times saying "Speed up."  I did not enjoy the poking one bit, but when I tried to politely tell her she began telling me stories about her years as a nurse in Viet Nam, and all the men she helped to save, and all the intestines she saw falling out onto the floor, and having to saw someone's arm off when they were out of anesthesia.  They were truly horrifying stories, full of blood and gore and human suffering, but she had a way of telling them that made them even more disturbing.

Doris began fiddling around in the back seat, and I thought that she was getting something out of a suitcase.  Then I looked over and saw she was holding her cat.  "Hey listen--" I tried to say.

"Somebody was lonely and wanted to come out to play."  She spoke in a nauseating baby talk.  "Mr. Pussykins wants to join the party.  She likes to have fun, too.  Let's have some music, shall we?"  She turned off the radio and began singing the cat food jingle  "Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow."  The cat moved her head.  "Oh look, Mr. Pussykins is dancing.  She loves to dance."  Doris picked up the cat and began to make it dance.

I did my best to ignore them both, which was easier to do as we drove by New York City and down the Jersey turnpike, both swamped with traffic.  The cat crawled into my lap and put its paws on the steering wheel.  "Hey, this is dangerous" I protested.

Once again, baby talk from Doris.  "Oh look.  Mr. Pussykins thinks she can drive.  Isn't that just the most adorable thing you've ever seen in your life?"

"The cat must be put away," I said firmly.

"But Mr. Pussykins thinks she's a person, she wants to be out with us.  And I think we have to afford her all the rights and privileges of every other human being."

"But she is not human."

Doris looked thunderstruck.  "How dare you!  What a terrible thing to say."  She hugged the cat for a while and remained very quiet.  I was relishing this quiet time, and wondered just how long it could possibly last.  After an hour, Doris poked me in the shoulder and said,  "Mr. Pussykins has decided to forgive you.  You hurt her, but she has a sweet and forgiving disposition... lucky for you!"  The cat began to crawl all over the car, then got up on the dash and dropped some kitty crap.  Doris got very excited.  "Oh look, Mr. Pussykins brought you a very special present that she made all by herself.  She loves you!"

"Can you please clean that off the dash?"

"What's your rush?  Don't you want to appreciate your gift?"

"No, not at all, not for one more second."

"Somebody is a grumpy gus, isn't he, Mr. Pussykins.  Say, did I ever tell you that I was originally going to name my cat Morris, like the cat on the TV commercials.  But since my cat is a girl, Morris seemed like a silly name.  It's all wrong, it's a boy's name."   She suddenly stopped speaking and closed her eyes. I didn't know if she was just so tired she passed out, or if she was doing some type of meditation.  Either way, I was just glad for some peace for a while.

Two hours later, she sprang to life shouting "Mr. Pussykins!"  She didn't have to look far, the cat was in her lap kneading her woolen pantsuit.  It was scratched up beyond repair, but that was between Doris and her cat.  "Oh, Mr. Pussykins, I just had the worst dream about you.  We were surrounded by at least one hundred rabid dogs, and they were hungry for cat, but I wasn't going to let them take you.  I began to fight, and then Underdog and Mighty Mouse flew in and helped me, and we saved you my sweet little Pussykins."

"Are you OK?" I hesitantly asked Doris.

"Fit as a fiddle.  Did I ever tell you about my husband Horatio?  He was quite a character, and he hated cats.   None moreso than Mr. Pussykins.  He hated that cat since she was just a kitten, and he'd kick her out of the way and never ever pet her when she climbed up into his lap.  I kept on telling him that people who treat cats wrong sometimes wind up with poison in their apple pie.  He argued that he only liked peach pie, so I made him a peach pie."  She got a strange smile on her face.  "God rest his soul."

"What did he die from?"

"Undetermined.  Let's change the subject and talk about something merrier.  Like when Mr. Pussykins got pregnant and had to have an abortion."  That is when I stopped listening, and continued being tuned out all the way to New Orleans.  She kept right on talking, but I wasn't listening.

When we got to her place in New Orleans, she wanted me to unload the SUV that I had just loaded two days before in New Hampshire.  I did the work, and then walked far enough into her house to see it was just like the house up north.  Sky high stacks of magazines everywhere, newspapers from twenty years before, all matter of junk and paraphenalia.  A hoarders paradise.

Once I was done, Doris told me it was time to clean the kitchen and the bathroom.  "No," I said.

"No?"

"No ma'am, its not my job.  I did it in New Hampshire, but now the job is done."  I turned and walked out the front door..  I could hear Doris shrieking for me to wait, wait, please wait.

She came out the front door holding the cat in what looked like an uncomfortable position.  "Mr. Pussykins wants her kiss goodbye."  I held my hand up and waved as I continued heading for the sidewalk, where I'd make my way into downtown New Orleans and pick up my next car.  But as hard as I try, I still can't get that cat jingle out of my head...  "Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HALLOWEEN ROAD TERROR

Halloween 2017.  I just picked up a car in Plano, TX, on the northern outskirts of Dallas.  It was getting close to rush hour, and the customer strongly suggested that I stay off Central Expressway (75) if I was heading downtown.  He said that Hillcrest would be a much better path for me, so as not to sit in bumper to bumper traffic.

I started thinking about trick or treating as a kid, and how excited I was each year to dress up in a new costume.  Then I remembered my old friend Tony Vitale, a detective with the Tampa Police who I had known for years.  He said that Halloween looks fun from the outside, but there is truly a whole lot of crimes that go down on this scary night.  He always said stay home and stay safe.

Perhaps I was too deep in thought, because I pulled up to a light and noticed that the outside lane I had been traveling in was a right turn only lane now.  I slowly crawled the last fifty feet to the red light, and then it turned green so I hit the gas and shot over one lane to the left as I sped through the intersection.  I wasn't proud of this move, but I had left myself little choice.  I hated it when I saw other people do this move, but it was done and over.  Or so I thought.

I could see a car in my rearview mirror maneuvering wildly to catch up with me.  Apparently I had pissed him off with my unorthodox move, and I have discovered that often people who don't like your driving will chase you down to chew you out with a good tongue lashing.  I kept driving along steadily, and said a little prayer that God would send this person peacefully on their way.

When the other driver caught up and was right beside me, he swung his car over at mine, and I had to react quickly to swerve out of his way.  The car swerved at me again, and I had to go so far to the right that my tires skidded against the curb.  I started to speed up, and the guy quickly got in front of me and slammed on his brakes.  I turned my wheel hard left and went two lanes over to the left, confusing and no doubt frustrating this man who seemed to be trying to teach me a lesson.  He came after me, continuing to swing his car over at me.  I was convinced that if I didn't swerve out of his way each time, he would have happily smacked into me.

I'm no stranger to road rage, but this man seemed diligent and determined.  An old tactic I've used before is to go real slow, then the angry driver simply gets bored because you won't play with him.  Not this fellow, he sat right on my back bumper, and then he zoomed around in front of me and kept on tapping my brakes to irritate me.  Frankly, I was a lot more concerned than I was irritated.  This was getting interesting.

It seemed like this gentleman was going to get payback one way or the other.  But payback for what?  I hadn't been anywhere near him when I cut through the intersection, he had to catch up with me to start this misbegotten chase.  I sped up, and so did he, and then I could see through peripheral vision that he was leaning out his window, yelling and waving his arm.  I tried to ignore him, pretend I didn't notice him, but he wouldn't stop.  As much as I've learned to avoid eye contact with road ragers, I was so curious I just had to look over.  And that's when I saw him holding up a police badge. 

Suddenly I felt a sense of dread fill me up inside, and I felt like I was in big trouble.  I wondered why the guy wasn't in uniform and wasn't in a cop car.  I know there are unmarked undercover vehicles, but this looked like a 1990's model Pontiac which had not been taken care of, and that gave me further doubts.  I have heard lots of stories about innocent people being pulled over by a car carrying a badge or blue lights, only to discover that it wasn't a real police officer.  People have been robbed, raped, and killed in these situations.  Unless maybe this was an off-duty cop. 

It was time to take action and end this situation before it got worse, one way or the other.  As we got near the LBJ freeway, I hit the brakes hard and made a right turn on the feeder road and the other car flew by me.  Then the crazy driver made a U-turn and came back towards oncoming traffic so that he could follow me on the feeder road.  I saw in my mirror that he nearly slammed into two cars in an effort to catch up with me. 

"This guy wants me bad," I murmured to myself.

As I saw the Valley View mall on my right, I saw a big intersection at the entrance.  And then I saw
a boomerang lane, and I had my escape plan.  I call the boomerang lane and special lane to the far left where you can make a U-turn at freeway interchanges from the feeder road on one side to the feeder road on the other side of LBJ freeway.  There were three lanes as we approached, I got into the middle one and my pursuer was in the far right.  As we neared the intersection, at the last possible second I shot over two lanes into the boomerang lane, which is separated from the other lanes by a large concrete divider.  I looked in the mirror and saw the maniac climb on top of his car, waving his arms and screaming.  He looked like he was about to have a seizure. 

Once I got calmed down, I called my old buddy Detective Tony Vitale and told him about what happened.  He laughed and asked,  "What are you so upset about?  You got away didn't you?"

"Well, yes."

"He doesn't sound like a cop to me, and I know what I'm talking about."

"But what if he was by any chance?"

"Off duty means off duty.  A cop can't engage you in a high speed chase because he saw you do something he doesn't approve of when he's off the clock."

I found a party downtown and am about to go in and enjoy myself.  Happy Halloween!



Monday, September 25, 2017

LITTLE SHOP OF PORNO

I was driving, tired and dangerously distracted by my boss Riff yelling in my ear for so long.  "And another thing, pudgeball.  Why don't you ever get me a gift?"

"A gift?"

"What's wrong with a gift?"

"We don't have that kind of friendship.  I've never met you.  What would I get you besides Jack Daniels?"

"Are you insinusinuation that I drink a lot?" he slurred.

"I'm in Georgia on my way to Atlanta, and--"

"Lesbian erotica."

"Beg your pardon?"

"Books with stories about lesbians.  No pictures, just stories, so I can read them with my lunch.  Tell 'em that Riff sent ya."

"I'll call you when I deliver in Atlanta."  I hung up and put in a George Strait CD to listen to.  I had noticed a lot of the newer cars don't have CD players, so I guess my collection will become obsolete.  One half hour later, I felt the pressing need to find a bathroom, and began searching for an exit.  There were none, and I tried to recall on I 75 where the next one would be.  When things became more urget I saw an exit with one large establishment. I pulled off and pulled in, and saw the sign ADAM & STEVE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT.

I quickly jumped out of the car and walked in.  When I stop someplace just to use the restroom, I normally spend a little time looking around to be polite.  Or often buy a little something, though I had no idea what that would be here.  A very short man with a club foot came aggressively toward me.  "Hello hello, welcome to the Adult store, I'm Eddie, short for Edward, some call me Ed, and the ladies' choice is Eduardo."

"Hi, Ed."

"I prefer Eddie.  Now what can I get for you today?"

I saw the restroom in the back corner of this huge warehouse size store, and began to slowly move in that direction.  Eddie was right beside me.  "What city is this?  Just curious."

"We're not really a city here, just a dot on the county map.  In fact, we just opened up this store."

"It's your store?"

"Oh no, no, I just work here.  If it was my store it wouldn't be called Adam and Steve!  Sounds a little too homosexual to me, if you know what I mean."

"There's a chain called Adam and Eve, so maybe this is just a play on that."

"Yep, but I don't like gay play.  Or homo hijinks.  None of that!"

"So you don't sell gay material?"

Eddie shoved his hands deep into his pockets and sighed.  "Yessir, we do, but I don't like to talk about it."  My tummy started to rumble and I knew I needed to get to that restroom real soon.  The phone at the front desk rang, and Eddie began to rush for it.  "You just look around, I'll be back with you in a minute."  I walked quickly to the restroom, went inside, and took care of business.

I came out with a plan.  I was going to buy Riff the book he wanted and mail it to him, just to shock him.  He wouldn't be expecting that.  Or should I be buying porn?  Supporting the smutty industry?  Eddie came running up behind me as I came upon a wall full of magazines.  "Hey Eddie, there you are."

"Here I am, ready to serve."

"I wonder if you have any books about lesbians.  Oh, and I hope that doesn't offend."

"Offend?  Me?  I love lesbians.  I don't like those homo men, I don't trust them to stand behind me.  But lady lesbians, mmmm-mmmm!"

"Great."

"So you want a picture book?"

"No."

"Picture magazine?"

"No, a book, just writing, with a story."

Eddie rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  "No, nothing like that.  But if you like lesbians--

"It's for a friend."

Eddie winked at me.  "Yeah, right, so if your friend likes lesbians, you should get him a couple of these blow up girl dolls.  Then he can make them play and do whatever they want to each other."  Eddie's ears perked up, like a dog hearing a siren in the distance.  "I think I hear the toilet running."  He ran to the restroom and came out pointing a finger at me. shouting, "You used the restroom, didn't you!" It wasn't a question.

"Yes."

"You even admit it!  It is against Georgia state law to use a restroom in a porn establishment."

"I used one at the Lions Den up the road once before.  It was no problem."

"That's another part of Georgia.  Down here its a city ordinance."

"You said this isn't a city."

"County law, its county law!  All I know is you broke the law and I'm calling the cops!"  Eddie ran for the front desk, and I rushed out the door and got in the car.  I hated to seem like a getaway driver from a crime, all I wanted to do was use the restroom.

Friday, September 8, 2017

HARVEY, IRMA AND ME

Hurricane Harvey had hit Houston very hard, and the long journey to getting back to normal has just begun.  Then I started hearing about Irma as I delivered a car to Florida, and was eager to get out of the state just as soon as possible.

I was in Fort Lauderdale, headed upstairs in a building to pick up the keys to the car going to Chicago.  As I stepped off the elevator, my cell phone rang, and I answered only to hear the voice of my eternally grumpy boss Riff.  "Where are you, loser?"

"In Fort Lauderdale, at the pharmaceutical company, about to pick up the car headed to Chicago."

"About to, you say?  Which means you haven't done it yet."

"I'm going to get it right now."

"I am so tired of your shoddy showmanship."

"Showmanship?"

"You heard me, cupcake.  You may fool other people with your rich creamy filling, but I know you for the scallywag that you are."  A woman stepped up to me all dressed in white and seemed eager to talk to me.  She inched closer and closer to me, anxious for my full attention, but I was still talking to Riff.  "Are you still there, you ignorant sumbitch?"

"Riff, I have to go."

"Why, I'm not through talking yet."

"Because the woman is standing right in front of me."  She tapped a finger on her watch indicating that I should hurry.

"Who's more important to you, your sweet savvy boss or some slut you've never met."  That was the moment I chose to hang up.

"You are late, now come on."  The woman grabbed me by the shoulder and led me back into her huge office space and then down a long hallway.  This woman reminded me a lot of actress Jane Lynch, who played the coach on GLEE among other things.  "I appreciate you being here, but I abhor tardiness."

"I thought I was early," I said, looking at my watch.

"Listen, the only thing I hate worse that tardiness is lying.  Please don't add insult to injury."  She clucked her tongue disapprovingly and shook her head.

"I am genuinely sorry."

She shrugged.  "I suppose I can't expect everyone to be as on-point as I am. I'm Maggie by the way. Most people I find to be slovenly and unpredictable."  I kept on walking down the hall, and she had her hand around my upper arm guiding me.  When I started to walk past the door which was her private office, she dug her fingernails into my arm and pulled me back.  "Whoa cowboy, what's your rush?  We're in here."

Maggie led me into the office, but it really looked more like an exam room at a Doctor's office.  This did not phase me, for I have delivered cars for all kinds of people in various professions.  As a driving fool, nothing surprises me anymore.  "Do you have the keys?"

"Roll up your sleeves, please."

"Ok, what?  I need the car keys."

"I have no earthly idea what you're talking about, but we don't have any time to waste.  I need to get your blood pressure, take several blood samples, and I will need urine and stool sample from you."

"Stool?"

"Yes, right, number two.  You know, doo-doo."

"Yes ma'am, I know doo-doo.  But I--"

"No buts, you signed up for the program and its too late to back out now."

"Back out of what?"

"The drug testing program.  We have a new pharmaceutical product that has wonderful applications and benefits, but has a side effect of hallucinations.  We need to monitor these, it may be sort of like having a bad acid trip."

"I've never had an acid trip."

"Well, I'm certain you've had mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms?"

I took a few steps away from her.  "I think I'm the wrong guy in the wrong place."

Maggie got very aggressive.  "Look here, Mr. Habib, I have had just about enough.  I've tried to be patient with you, but you agreed to all this when you signed--"

"No," I interrupted.

"No to what?"

I threw my hands up.  "No to so much.  No I'm not Mr. Habib, no I'm not here for your drug tests, no I'm not late..."

"But you are late."

"How could I be late if I didn't have an appointment?"  I wasn't getting anywhere, so I pulled out my driver's license and my paperwork to pick up the car.  Maggie examined my card.

"Wait, you're not Mr. Habib."

"Correct."

"Why were you pretending to be Mr. Habib?  Something doesn't smell right."

"I'm here to pick up one of your company cars to take to Chicago."

"Chicago?  The windy city?"

"That's the one."

She seemed convinced.  "Well if you're not Mr. Habib, why have you been wasting my time?"  Before I could answer, Maggie grabbed me by the arm again and led me out and down the hall.  Another woman came towards us, and Maggie shouted, "Jillian, I think this guy is here to see you about a car. I have to find Mr. Habib."

Jillian stepped up to me and smiled as Maggie walked away briskly.  "Hello, you must be Bill Thomas."

I smiled and nodded.  "Yes, that's me.  Hope the car is all ready to go."  We walked into a lobby area where a TV was playing a news update.

"The car is ready, but don't be in too much of a hurry."

"Well, I just want to get on the road before major evacuations begin."

Jillian smiled sadly and pointed at the TV on the wall.  I looked and saw traffic cams showing both Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike.  Both looked like parking lots, full of cars that were not moving.  "Looks like Irma may slow you down a bit."

"Or a lot.  No worries, that's my job.  I'm a driving fool."

I am actually writing this blog entry as I sit on the Florida Turnpike.  I've moved 5 miles in the past two hours, and so I wanted to share this story via talk to text.  Think a good thought for me and wish me luck!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RHINESTONE COWBOY RIDES AWAY

It had been a pretty rough day driving.  I ran into a lot more traffic than usual as I drove through Tennessee, and my boss Riff kept on calling to chew me out about absolutely nothing.  Sweet old Mrs. Sherman had called me multiple times asking for the recipe for homemade ice cream.  And my counterpart driver Andy was making threatening calls to me, once again angry about the fact I pulled him from a burning vehicle and probably saved his life.  Andy is an odd duck.

Then I heard the news on the radio-- Glen Campbell had died.  My mind immediately went to my old high school buddy Steve, who loved the music of Glen since forever, maybe even more than I love George Strait songs.  I decided to sidetrack over to Kentucky because I thought for sure he could use a good friend right about then.

Two hours later, I walked into his little General Store, and when he saw me come in he broke down in tears.  I sang, "I've been walking these streets so long, singing the same old song."   Steve rushed over to give me a bear hug, and I said "I heard about Glen, and my car sort of headed in this direction."

"Thank you so much, buddy.  I can't believe you're here."

"Believe it.  Accept it.  And then move on."

He put his massive hand on top of my head and tousled my hair vigorously.  "Glen is gone, Bill."

"Yep."  He led me into the back room so we could sit down and talk.

"I feel like I've lost a member of my family."

"I completely understand."

"Do you remember on my 18th birthday when I came to your Mom's house, and you took me back to your room and played RHINESTONE COWBOY for me?"

"And then I gave you the cassette tape so you could wear it out in your car listening to it over and over."

Steve laughed.  "Yes, and I did wear it out completely.  I keep on thinking about all the milestones in my life that somehow were connected to Glen Campbell."

"You also wore out the LIVE FROM LONDON cassette tape I got you."

Steve had a faraway look in his eyes.  "I miss cassette tapes."

"I did too, but I got used to CDs."

"Yeah, but I read they are soon to be obsolete because of streaming and such."

"Is that right?"

Steve shrugged.  "That's what I read."

"Do you remember the prilgrimage we made together to Galveston when we were in college?"

"Yes, you knew how much I loved that song and you suggested late one night that we drive there.  We left home just before midnight and drove all night."

"I remember.  And I will never forget when you kept on hitting rewind, play, rewind, play on my cassette player and chewed up Glen's tape.  It was a goner."

Steve beamed and laughed out loud.  "Yep, and you buried him at sea."

"We were on that long bridge that goes for miles over Mobile bay, and I just tossed it ceremoniously out the window."

"And I screamed Gleeeeeeen!"  We both chuckled at the memory.  "Gosh, its good to see you, brother.  You're my only friend in the world who would drive to Kentucky to see me because you knew I'd be hurting."

"Well stop hurting, we shouldn't mourn Glen, we should listen to his music all night and sing along."  Just then the front door open, and the bright setting sun shining through made the man standing there nothing but a sillouhette.  But he was built exactly like Mr. Campbell, and he was wearing a cowboy hat that sparkled in the sunlight.  Rhinestones, perhaps?

Steve stared and his jaw dropped.  "Glen?"

"Yes?" came the voice of the man we still could not see.

Steve got very emotional.  "Glen?"

"Yeah, what?" said the man impatiently, walking inside so we could see him.  He looked nothing like Glen Campbell.  "I'm Glen Perry, have we met?"

Steve shook his head.  "No sir, my mistake.  How can I help you today?"  Steve finished with the customer and then we put on some Glen and sang our hearts out.  It's really good to have such good friends in the world to share the good times and the rough times.