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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

SUNRISE DOG CHASE

I got the chance to deliver a car in Birmingham, my old home town.  It was great to be back, and my boss Riff had called to say there was another car to pick up headed for Boston.  So my long time buddy Frank picked me up when I dropped one car off and took me to get the Boston car, and then I went to his place to spend the night.  He cooked out on the grill, we had his world famous cocktails, and then I crashed on the couch because I had to get an early start.

I got up at 5am the next morning and showered and ate a bran muffin.  I was dressed and out the door at 6, and the first thing I noticed was a beautiful sunrise and the mist in the air.  Frank lives up on a hill, and it is a steep grade down to the street.  I was hurrying down on the grass, which was covered with dew and quite slippery.  Then I hit a super slick spot and had to run to keep from falling on my face.  Momentum always seems to keep me on my feet in those situations.

As I neared the car by the curb, I heard something from behind rushing towards me.  It was two large Rottweiler dogs, and they were open for business.  They were growling, snarling, and rushing towards me at alarming speed.  I absolutely love dogs, but when they look a tad vicious and are rushing me, I can get a bit nervous.  I jumped on top of the car, and they both jumped on the car, their claws scratching the paint pretty thoroughly.  The dogs' owner came ambling down the hill from the house next door.

"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded.

"I think your dogs are upset."

He grabbed both of them by the collars and yanked them back.  They fought him and still lunged for me, whining as they did so.  "Can you blame them?"

"I didn't do anything."

"Didn't do anything?  Bubba, let me give you a slice of advice for the future.  For one thing, next time you are getting up to leave, wait another hour before you come outside."

"I've got a long trip ahead and need to leave now."

"Well, I don't think waiting till 7am is gonna make that much a difference.  This is the dog's time of day, time that they can come outside and roam free in the neighborhood and do as they please without worrying about human people.  See what I mean?"

I nodded.  I also noticed that from this angle, I could see for the first time their yard was strewn with junk.  It would make any junkyard envious.

"Now here's the other advice for you.  Whatever you do, don't run outside.  It inflames the dogs."

"The grass was real slippery, and I was running to avoid falling on my face."

"Much better to fall on your face than to piss off these dogs.  Now go on, get, and remember the lessons I taught you.  And you are welcome."

I got into the car and left as quickly as possible.  Later that day when Frank called to see how far I'd gotten, I told him about the incident.

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Frank told me.

"I'm telling you the honest truth."

"Oh, I have no trouble believing it.  That guy has been a thorn in my butt since we first moved in here.  Did you see all the junk laying in his yard?"

"Not until this morning.  I couldn't see it from your house because of that new wooden fence you put up next to the driveway."

"And why do you think I put the fence up?  To block the ugliness when I walk out my back door or look out my kitchen window.  And it still isn't high enough.  I wish that fence could be so high that I could only see his yard using Google Earth."

I chuckled.  "Well, he sure did think he was giving me good advice."

"Oh wonderful.  The junkyard hillbilly neighbor is dispensing wisdom.  That guy has some nerve to let those dogs run free and tell you that you shouldn't come outside when they do."

"I don't blame the dogs at all.  I think this is bad judgement on the part of the owner."

"Bill, I couldn't agree more."

And I continued my long drive to Boston.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WALKING DEAD FOOL

I was driving into New Haven, Connecticut to deliver a car.  My cell phone rang and caller ID told me it was my never cheerful boss Riff.  "This is Bill," I answered.

"That's your opinion," he grumbled.

"How can I help you?"

"Did you deliver the car to Seattle yet?"

"I'm in Connecticut."

"What?  That's the whole other side of the country."

"I'm not taking the Seattle car.  Remember?  You reassigned it.  I'm delivering to the man who has been on vacation for two weeks."

"Maybe you're right.  But still..."

"Still what?" I asked.

"Still birth, that's what your Mom should have done when she had you."

"What does that even mean, Riff?"

"It means get the car delivered, my little jelly filled donut."

I hung up and consulted my GPS.  I knew that I was getting close, and I had a genuine concern.  I had spoken to Mr. Clarkson the day before and told him that I would be delivering today.   But I had called as promised today to give him 30 minutes notice and he didn't answer or return my call.

I found the house and pulled into the driveway.  I saw that the man was hard at work in his yard, being industrious and building.  I parked and jumped out of the car.  "Hi sir, I'm Bill Thomas.  I tried to call but you didn't answer."

He didn't even look at me, but kept hard at work.  "Can't you see I am busy?  Been busy all morning getting ready."

I took a good look around, and noticed that what he had completed thus far looked like a strong fortification of security.  There were sharpened spikes jutting out at a deadly angle all the way around the front yard.  And there were booby traps and snares galore.  "Ready for what, sir?"

As I stepped forward, he yelled  "Stop!  Do not move another inch."

I froze, scared and unsure why it was so imperative that I stop.  He tiptoed over to a large pile of leaves spread out in front of me and kicked a few back, revealing a pit he had dug deeply.  The leaves provided cover that hid it well.  "Thanks."

"Watch yourself," he warned.

"Are you expecting company?"

"We all are."

"We are?  Who?"

"Zombies.  Walkers.  The living dead."

I chuckled, but the man looked at me contemptuously.  "Don't laugh.  Don't you dare to laugh."

"I'm sorry, were you serious?"

"As a freakin' heart attack.  The apocalypse is upon us, and most people will die or be converted into zombies themselves.  But I will be prepared and I will survive."

"How?"

"Preparedness.  Ready to do whatever it takes, whatever is necessary.  Get it?"

"Sure."

"No sir, they won't be eating my brains anytime soon.  The traps I'm setting will help, but eventually I will be trapped inside my house.  I'm convinced that I can hold out indefinitely on the second story of my house."

"How will you do that?"

"As you well know, zombies can't climb.  That's a given.  So I just sit up there with my rifle and pick them off one at a time."

"Don't you think that the gunshots would attract the other zombies and then your house would be surrounded by hundreds of zombies making escape impossible?"

"Bring it on!" he bellowed.  "Clearly you know nothing about the walking dead.  You should watch THE WALKING DEAD."

"The TV show?"

"More like a documentary to prepare us for the inevitable."

"The inevitable zombie apocalypse?"

He glared at me.  "You scoff, I can tell you're a scoffer.  But you'll be laughing out the other side of your ass when they start munching on your brain.  You are incredibly naive, I got no more time for you."  He marched off down the street.

"But sir, what about your car?"  I stood and watched him walk away from me.  I guess I had said something wrong, but I didn't know whether to let him walk and have his personal space or if I should follow him.  While I was waiting to decide, a minivan pulled into the driveway.  A large man climbed out and stared at the yard.

"What the hell..." he mumbled.  "Who are you?" he asked.

"Bill Thomas, I'm here to deliver a car to Mr. Clarkson."

"I"m Tim Clarkson, we spoke on the phone."

I was very confused.  "You're Mr. Clarkson?"

"Yes I am, and I know exactly who did this to my yard.  Ralph Edison, my neighbor behind me.  He has been bugging me for months to fortify my house along with him for some zombie apocalypse.  Then he waits for me to go out of town and does it himself?"

I shrugged.  "I just came to deliver your new car, and I can tell you its a nice one."

"Did Ralph bother you?"

"No, he was somewhat informative."

"Yes, in a very insane way.  You got paperwork for me to sign?"  I handed it to him and he signed.  "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go have a conversation with Ralph."  He started to march across his yard, and I shouted a warning before he stepped on the leaves covering the pit.  He shook his head in disgust.  "This is just crazy!"

I felt the same way as I picked up my bag and walked away.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

POLAR POP NEW YEAR

I was getting tired as I neared Tallahassee, Florida on Interstate 10. I had driven all the way from Dallas, Texas and was feeling burned out.  I still had 200 miles to go, and decided I need some refreshment.  So I got off at the Thomasville Road exit and soon found a Circle K mini mart.

I parked and got out of the car, stretching my legs and doing some squats, and hearing some cracking noises in my body as I did so.  I walked inside and could immediately see the massive soda pop station, with a wide variety of choices of sugary drinks.  Filled my styrofoam cup with crushed ice and Dr. Pepper, then headed for the counter to pay for it.

The Cashier was a bright and cheerful little spark plug of a woman.  "Hi, how are you this evening?"

I smiled.  "Just fine, thanks.  And you?"

"Can't complain, can't complain.  Well, I could, but nobody would listen."  She howled with laughter.  "Carol's the name, and Circle K is my game."

"OK Carol, just let me buy this large Dr. Pepper and I'll be out of your hair."

She waved me off.  "You're not in my hair, and you're not a bother.  But what does bother me is that you got a Polar Pop."

I looked down at my cup, confused.  "Why?"

"Because there is nothing in that cup that's good for you.  Sugar and chemicals and God only knows what else."

"I'm tired, and I can use a boost."

She put both of her hands palms down on the counter and leaned towards me.  "A temporary boost!  An artificial boost!  And then you will come crashing down."  She picked up two handfuls of M&M bags and threw them down hard on the counter to demonstrate a crash.  "Do you want that?"

"I don't know," I said, unsure what was coming next.

She looked at me knowingly and smiled.  "How about a banana instead?"

"No thank you."

She pointed to the basket with several fruits just to the left of her counter.  "Fresh fruit, it's God's natural laxative."

"Nope, not today."

"How about an apple?"

"No, no apples."

"You don't like apples?'

"I love apples."

She grinned.  "You ever had an apple fritter?"

"I sure have, they are delicious."

"But have you actually tasted one?"

"Yes Carol, and that is how I know they are delicious."

"I'm not kidding you, they are so good.  Try a bite."  She reached below the counter and pulled out an apple fritter with a large bite taken out of it.  "Come on, try some."

"No, none for me."

"Don't be shy, have a big old bite."

"Not really hungry right now."

"Don't be silly, it's not like I have some horrible STD or something."  She looked at me very slyly.  "We hope."  She winked broadly at me.

"I'll pass."

"What is your name, sir?"

"Bill."

"Your momma didn't give you a last name?"

"Thomas.  Bill Thomas."

"Well Bill, you are being ridiculous and missing out on a real treat.  This might have been your one chance to find out what an apple fritter tastes like.  And you blew it."

"I didn't mean --"

"You blew it.   You'd rather pour poison soda pop down your throat than eat a healthy and nutritious apple fritter.  All I can say to you is please pay and get out of here."

The drink was 79 cents, so I put a dollar down and started to walk out of the store.  I figured she could keep the change.

As I reached for the door to go out, I heard her say  "The kind of guy who thinks he can just put his money down and walk out the door.  The kind of guy who thinks I want his charity.  Low down bastard."

And that's the life of A Driving Fool in 2017.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

CHRISTMAS GIRL

I had just driven a BMW to Houston and was set to deliver to a Dr. Martin.  I called him and he said he would need me to deliver it to him at the hospital rather than his home, and I agreed completely.  He also wanted it on Christmas Eve, and I was happy to make that work for him.  And he told me he worked in the cancer ward, and that is when my heart sunk.  Just having learned a few weeks ago about my friend Smokey's upcoming demise from cancer, I guess I am still real sensitive about it.  Not dealing well with a close friend who is terminal, and not good for a Christmas I was going to spend alone.

I got to the hospital and went to the fifth floor where Dr. Martin said to meet him.  I asked for him at the Nurse's desk, and they said he was busy and just to please wait.  I stood against a wall just outside a room and tried to stay out of the way.  And then I heard a small voice call out to me.

"Hello?  Hey mister?"

I looked into the doorway of the room I was standing near.  I saw a little bald girl sitting in bed with a laptop opened on her tray table.  "Did you need something?" I asked her.

"Yes please, I dropped my pen and can't reach it."  She held up her arms attached to IV tubes to demonstrate, and I happily scooped up her pen off the floor and handed it to her.

"Thank you very much."  She smiled at me with what must be the brightest smile I have ever seen.  "My name is Heather, what's yours?"

I nodded.  "Bill Thomas, at your service."

"At my service?  Well, now I really feel special."  She giggled.  "What are you doing here?  You don't look sick."

"Just visiting."

"Oh," she said with understanding, "You must know someone here that has the Big C."

"Big C?"

"Yep, cancer."  I was very surprised that she had such an easy, flippant way of talking about it.  "That's what I've got, in case you couldn't tell."

"I, um..."

"Come on, you are on the cancer ward.  We've all got it, we're all fighting it."

I was really impressed by her plucky spirit.  I could tell right away that this girl had moxie.  "How long have you had it?"

"Years now.  I'm ten, and have had it almost as long as I've been alive.  They thought I was going to die, and then I had a miraculous recovery and went into remission.  But now it's come back again, so I'm ready to fight again."

"You're a fighter."

"Yes I am, you bet I am.  And I will win."

"I believe you."

"You better believe it.  Faith is my strongest ally, plus I have God on my side.  The only downside is that I used to get really bored sitting in the hospital.  TV can entertain you only so long."

I pointed a the laptop.  "You've got your computer, so the internet is yours."

"And that is what I do, all day every day."

"What do you do?"

"I use the internet to write a whole lot of other kids with cancer.  I've started my own network, and its growing every day.  I send messages of hope, humor and love to them all.  I tell them jokes, I offer support, and I relate to their pain and their situation.  And they all really appreciate it."

"I bet they do."

"Yep, I have literally hundreds of friends now all over the USA.  And I'm branching out to other countries now.  And you know what?  It feels really good."

"You're making me feel good."

She closed her laptop and looked at me earnestly.  "Were you feeling bad before?"

I felt some shame for feeling badly when this poor girl had it much worse off than me.  Yet she was upbeat and charming.  "It's not important."

"It is to me.  This is what I do, help people out.  Please tell me what's bothering you?"

"I... my close friend is dying from inoperable cancer.  It's very rare and can't be treated, and the doctors says he has less than a year."

"Sounds like he's got the very worse kind of cancer.  There's all kinds, you know."

"So I've heard.  I'm going to miss my friend, and I'm just not handling it well at all."

She sat straight up and said firmly, "Snap out of it!"

"Beg pardon?"

"Get over yourself.  I'm sorry to say, but you are just feeling sad for yourself.  Your friend needs your love and support right now, just like the joy I try to spread.  If you give me his info I will add him to my cancer pen pal list.  But what he really needs is a brother like you."

I was taken aback.  "He is a like a brother to me..."

"I had a feeling," she said.  "Where are you spending Christmas."

"Wherever it is, I'll be spending it alone."

"Oh no, don't do that.  Go to church, go praise God.  Or go find a soup kitchen and roll up your sleeves and help out those less fortunate."

"I've done that before."

"Great, then you know how its done.  Believe me, when you do good things for others, you will forget all about your own problems.  And you may find that your own problems aren't as huge as you thought they were."  She gave me her contact info and made me promise to stay in touch.

As I walked out of the room, I thanked her.  "You really helped me out."

"How?"

"You helped me put things in perspective.  You reminded me how valuable faith is, and that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it."

"See there.  And one more thing-- carry love in your heart and show kindness to everyone."

"Thank you so much."

She shrugged.  "It's what I do.  Merry Christmas Bill, and remember God loves you."

I left with a bounce in my step.  I had been deeply moved and inspired by this young girl who really brought home the spirit of Christmas for me.

Friday, December 9, 2016

BRIGHT BLUE HOLIDAYS

I was driving through North Carolina when I got the news.  My friend Smokey was sick and dying.  I could not believe my ears when he told me on the phone, and I had no idea what to say.  This guy who had been like an older brother to me got a serious case of cancer and they found it too late.

As I was dealing with my many mixed emotions, I was also trying to pick up a car from a man who was being very uncooperative.  He had just been fired and was not ready to surrender his car just yet.  But I had been told to pick it up from him the night before, and waited for two hours to meet him.  Then he called to say to meet him at a house first thing the next morning.  So here I was, sitting in the driveway of the house, texting and calling the man but getting no answer.  I had knocked on the door, but he wasn't there.

My cell phone rang.  "Hey, this is Bill."

"What the hell are you up to now, you Pillsbury doughboy Christmas edition?"

"Say who?"

"This is Riff," bellowed my boss.  "Tis the season to get your work done and quit screwing up."

"I'm not screwing up."

"Do you have the car yet, my little crumb cake?"

"No, because--"

"I don't want to hear 'NO BECAUSE' you stupid moron.  I want to hear that the job is done.  And a Sir wouldn't hurt to throw in there."

"The guy is playing games with me, I will call you when I have the car."  I hung up, and my phone rang again almost immediately.  "What is it, Riff?"

"This is Henry Seltzer."

"Oh, hello sir, I am here at the house waiting for you."

"What house?" he asked.

"The house at 6440 Danbury Lane, the address you gave me."

He began to laugh.  "Well how about that.  I gave you my old address.  Why, I haven't lived in that house for five years."

"How about that," I said, not feeling very good about it.

"I'm at 1007 McManus Circle.  Can you get over here quick, I'm tired of waiting."  He hung up, and I looked up the address.  It was on the far side of Winston-Salem, and I was getting frustrated.

As I got close to the correct address, my phone rang again.  "This is Bill."

"Hey buddy boy, its Christmas Carol time."  It was Riff again, and he sounded drunk.  "Jingle balls, jingle balls, jingle in my butt!"

"Riff, put down the bourbon bottle and make a pot of coffee."

"Don't you tell me what to do, you little precocious jack ass brat mofo..."  It sounded like he dropped the phone, so I clicked off.  I pulled into the driveway of the house on McManus, and I saw the man run out the back door and jump into the car.  He started it and began to maneuver in the circular driveway to get out.  I deftly pulled over in a position to block him indefinitely, and he jumped out of the car as mad as a hornet.

"You bastard, you're blocking my way!"

"That's OK, I will get out of your way as soon as we've done the paperwork."

"I'm not ready to give up the car."

"My boss said don't take no for an answer.  The company you worked for wants their car back."

"It's not like its their property."

I squinted.  "Well..."

"This is your job, ruining people's Christmas?"

"No sir, I just have to get the car then go."

"But you have two cars.  How you gonna get both of them out of here?"

"Just leave that to me.  Sign here please."  I indicated the spot for him to sign, and he responded by shooting me the bird.  He held the keys out to me then dropped them on the ground for me to pick up.

Henry gave me a look like he wanted me to disappear.  And then he said, "I hope you get cancer and die."

I drove the car I had come in down the block and parked it on the street.  Then I drove Henry's old car a few blocks away, to a supermarket parking lot.  I walked back, got in the original car, and delivered it ten miles away.  I took an Uber back to the supermarket and got into Henry's car.  It was going up to Vermont, and I was afraid I might run into some snow.

Sadly ironic how Henry had chosen to wish me cancer when I just learned my friend Smokey is dying from it. What a cold, harsh reaction from the man when I was just doing my job.  But I don't want to be sad, I insist on good cheer.  Elvis sang about a Blue Christmas.  And blue is my favorite color.  And bright blue is my favorite shade of blue.  So I'm going to remain upbeat and happy and have a Bright Blue Christmas.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THANKSGIVING KILLER KLOWNS

I had just delivered a car to Brownsville, Texas and was wondering where I would spend Thanksgiving as twilight set in.  It would not be with friends or family, I had none that lived anywhere near me down on the southern tip of Texas.

Donald Trump was recently voted our President, and being so close to the Mexican border I couldn't help thinking about that big wall he promised to put up.  And all the other crazy promises he made, though I hope he is able to come through on some of them.  A lot of people were extremely unhappy about Trump's election.  As for me, I choose to think of the things I have to give thanks for.  It is that time of the year.

I am thankful for all of my friends all across the USA.  I am grateful to live in the USA, it is a privilege to live in a democratic nation where we have the right to vote for whoever we want.  I'm thankful to all the folks I meet out on the road, nutty and otherwise, who keep things interesting and lively for me.  And most of all I thank God for watching over me daily and keeping me safe as I travel.

As I walked down the streets searching for a restaurant that was open for Thanksgiving dinner.  I saw some clowns running down the block and into an alley.  It made me think about my experience with Bobo the bitter clown who I'd met nearly a year ago at a Waffle House.  These clowns looked a lot more energetic than Bobo.

Nearing the alley, I heard shouting.  I looked down the alley and saw the two clowns shoving an elderly couple and shouting threats.  This did not sit well with me, and I marched down the alley to see what was going on.  One of the clowns spun on me.

"Whassup, you son of a mother?" snarled one of the clowns at me.  "We are the Killer Klowns, with a K."

"OK," I said mildly.

"You gots to respect the Killer Klowns."

"Why?" I asked, trying to fully ascertain the situation I was in.

"Cuz we out here doing the Lord's work.  We are punishing everyone we find who voted for Donald Trump."

"Why is that?"

The other Klown turned to face me.  "Cuz we are true Americans.  Trump is gonna sell us out, it's all downhill from here."

Klown #1 pointed at the old couple, who were obviously terrified.  "These two admitted to voting for Trump, and now they need to learn a lesson about America."

"Land of the free, home of the brave?" I asked.

"You got that right."

"Do you guys understand what it means to live in America, and all the rights and responsibilities that go with that?"

"We gonna do what we gotta do," stated Klown #2.

"God wanted Hillary in the White House.  Trump landing there is an afront to God."

"Is that right?" I asked.

"Damn straight."

"I've been hearing about guys dressing up in clown costumes and terrorizing people on the streets for months.  Never heard any relationship between you and politics."

"Never was one till now," growled Klown #1 as he shoved the old man against the wall.

"Don't do that again," I heard myself say, with a threatening sound coming from me but not familiar to me.

"What are you gonna do about it?"  asked Klown #1.

"Too bad you don't have a gun to back it up, Trump is against guns," said Klown #2 as he shoved the old woman.

I pulled a gun out of my jacket.  "Too bad you're too stupid to know that Trump is all for guns.  And I'm going to empty this gun into you guys with pleasure if you don't get out of here right now."  I aimed it at them as if I'd done this a hundred times before and they made tracks fast.

The elderly couple thanked me profusely and even invited me to their house for Thanksgiving dinner.  And I said a prayer of Thanksgiving to God that the Killer Klowns couldn't recognize a starter pistol in the moonlight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

HURRICANE MATTHEW

Last week I was supposed to deliver a car to a woman in Jupiter, Florida on the east coast.  Then I'd ride the Amtrak to Orlando where my next car waited to be picked up.  As I was driving down the Florida Turnpike, I got a call from the lady.

"Hi Bill, this is Louise."

"Hello Louise, I was just about to call you.  I'm about three hours away, and--"

"Stop right there, Bill.  I called to tell you that I'm not at home."

"OK, when will you be there?"

"I won't.  Can you bring my car to St. Petersburg?"

St. Pete is on the west coast, a few hundred miles from her home in Jupiter.  I reluctantly agreed, then started calling for bus, train, and rental car schedules to get me to Orlando.  I ran into a lot of problems, because so many people had fled Hurricane Matthew, and now those who rushed to the west coast for safe haven wanted to get back to the east coast.  So travel options were difficult.

Louise had asked me to meet her at a Panera Bread location where she was set to have a business meeting.  I arrived and let her look over the car, and then she signed the paperwork.   "Where do you go from here?"

"Well, I'm trying to Orlando, but most forms of transport are booked solid."

"Exactly, that's why I asked you to come here.  I came on the train to stay with my parents until the storm passed us by.  But then I couldn't find any way to get home."

"I think outside the box, and I'm pretty good at travel arrangements.  I'll just go into Panera and find myself a way there on my trusty laptop."

Louise looked towards the entrance to Panera Bread and saw another woman.  "There's my appointment, thank you for everything, Bill."

I grabbed my bag and went inside.  Ordered an Asiago cheese bagel and hot green tea.  Opened up my laptop in a comfy booth and started looking for options.  As I began to find some possibilities, I overheard the family in the booth behind me.  They sounded a bit desperate, running out of ideas as to how to get home to Cocoa Beach.  After hearing them sound so worried about the condition of their home and being so anxious to get back to it, I popped my head over the back of my booth to face them.

"Hi, I'm Bill Thomas.  I don't mean to interrupt, but I think I might be able to help you."

"Help us get home?" asked the Mom of the family.

"Yes.  I'm good at making travel plans outside of the ordinary, if you're willing to give me a chance."

"More than willing," she said enthusiastically.

Her husband stood up and extended his hand.  "I'm Caleb, and this is my wife Stephanie. And these are the kids."  There were three kids, and they all looked bored and eager to go.

I shook with him.  "The pleasure is mine, Caleb.  Let me see what I can do for you."  I got to work on finding them a way back to Cocoa Beach, and Caleb came and sat next to me in my booth.  Twenty minutes later, I had them booked in a rental van for a one way trip.  It was pretty expensive for a car rental, but they didn't seem to mind at all.  They were just glad for a way back.

As Caleb and his family were getting up to leave, two women came up and introduced themselves.  "I'm Sandy, and she is Claire.  We saw that you were helping those people and wondered if you could help us, too."  And so I did.

This started the ball rolling, and before I knew it there was a small line of people waiting to be next for my travel services.  Anyone could look up travel sources, but I have developed a knack over time of finding unexpected ways of getting around by searching with unorthodox methods.  And it really felt good to help these people out.  Every single one of them was so nice and so grateful.

After I helped the last family, I went back to looking for myself.  Greyhound, Megabus and Amtrak were all booked solid to Orlando.  But I did find a rental SUV at four times the usual rate, which would cost about as much as I had just earned on the car I delivered.  As I was trying to decide what to do, Louise stepped up to me.  "You still here?" she asked.

"Yep.  How did your meeting go?"

"Fantastic, I think this is going to move me forward in the company.  At least I made a good impression.  Seems like you made an impression too, I kept hearing people talk about this guy who was booking travel for people on his laptop.  And I looked over and saw it was you."

"I like to help where I can."

"So do I."

"Hurricane Matthew caused enough trouble, I feel that we should all come together and help each other."

She nodded.  "When times get tough."

"Really anytime.  I keep trying to do good for others where I can, and keep hoping it will catch on and spread."

"I really love your attitude.  So did you find your own transport to Orlando?"

"Not yet.  Still hopeful, though."

"Then why don't I give you a ride?"

"That is very kind of you, but Orlando is going way out of your way from here to Jupiter."

She shrugged.  "So what?  Didn't you just say we should come together and help each other?"

"Yes, but--"

"No buts.  You just helped more than a few people get home, now let me do the same for you."

I wasn't actually going home, just to my next pick up, but I decided to shut up and accept her generosity.  While it took three hours longer than usual to drive the 100 miles from St. Petersburg to Orlando, I had a great conversation with Louise and found her to be funny and quite smart.  And I couldn't help having that feeling again that when times are rough, there's an angel on my shoulder.