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, June 17, 2018


On June 3, 2018 I found myself in Mason City, Iowa.  I had read that it was the inspiration for River City, where Professor Harold Hill created a boys band in THE MUSIC MAN.  I'm Bill Thomas, a driving fool, and I had never spent my birthday in Iowa.  Although I can say that almost every year since I've been driving I spend my one special day in a different city.  Just depends on where the car I'm delivering is headed.

The car was set to be delivered the next morning, so I checked into a cheap motel and asked where I could find the nearest coin laundromat.  I was given directions, and chuckled as I drove there thinking how cleaning my dirty laundry was certainly a fun way to celebrate turning 39.  I am not really 39, but decided some years ago to just stop adding years on when people asked.  Hey, it worked for legendary comedian Jack Benny.

I found the place with no trouble, and grabbed my sacks full of smelly used clothing.  I had to get change and detergent from the attendant on duty, who quickly reminded me that he'd be closing in two hours and I had to be gone by then.  That seemed like ample time to me.  I picked two top loading machines and poured the powder boxes of Tide in and pushed the coin slot.  Then I sloshed the water around before I started loading my clothes in.

"Rookie mistake," I heard a woman behind me say.

I turned with a smile.  "Who, me?"

"I don't see any other rookies in here, do you?  No honey, I'm just trying to help you out.  Next time, you want to put your laundry in first, then pour the powder on top, and then push the coin slot.  Trust me, I know what I'm talking about."

"Thank you, I will try that."  Actually, I had tried that years ago in college, and discovered that after the clothes were washed and dried, there were patches of residual powder sort of baked into my clothes.

"You promise?"

"Of course."  I hated to lie to her, she seemed like a nice woman.  I would guess that she was 5 feet tall and weighed around 350 lbs.  She wore a sort of tight muumuu that was cut very low at her chest, making her ample breasts heave outward.

"Can I tell you a secret?"

"Sure," I said.

"I prefer Gain to Tide.  But don't tell anyone."

"Oh, I won't."

"You promise?  Do you swear?"


"I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but my sister just got a bad case of the VD.  Its a STD, do you know what that is?"

"Yes I do."

"Well if you don't mind me saying so she deserved it.  She's the biggest whore in Mason City, Iowa."

"She's a prostitute?"

"No honey, prostitutes get paid.  My sister gives it away for free to any Tom, Dick or Harry.  Mostly dick, though.  I don't know if I should share this with you, but my boyfriend just got laid off his job."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."

She cocked her head sideways and gave me a look of gratitude.  "You really mean that, don't you?  That is so sweet.  Most folks don't give a tinker's damn about him.  They think just cuz he drinks too much and likes cocaine and watches TV all day he's some kind of bum.  Can you believe that?"

"How long had he been working there?"

"Working where, honey?"

"The place where he got laid off."

"For about one week.  And they got rid of him just because he called in sick three days in a row.  I mean, he was hungover, but they didn't know that."

"I'm sorry for him."

"You keep calling my man 'him', he does have a name you know.  It's Bubba."

"What did Bubba do before that?"

"He was unemployed for two years and I had to support him.  And if you must know, we live in a trailer park.  And yes, in a trailer."

"Nothing wrong with that," I told her.

"Who ever said there was anything wrong with that?  I'm a proud woman, and yes I am a little plump, but Bubba says more cushion means more pushin'.  Bubba is always coming up with clever lines he makes up like that.  I don't really want to tell you about my problems."

"You really don't have to."

"No, since you insist, I will tell you that I come from a broken home, I was raped twice as a child but I'm not going to tell you his name.  I got married young cuz I got pregnant, but my husband ran away and I ain't heard from him since.  My kid got in with a bad crowd, started selling drugs and getting into serious fights, and now he's living in juvie hall."

"That's rough."

"Mister, don't even try to pretend you understand how I feel or what I'm going through."

"I won't, I mean I don't."

"Damn straight.  I have lived a hard life, but I keep on rolling.  And no wisecracks about me rolling just because I'm overweight or I will kick your ass to the moon and back."

Sometimes I say simple things that I instantly regret.  This was one of those times.  "What are your dreams and goals?"

"Okay, now you gone too far.  You are getting into my personal life and I won't have it.  You hear me?"

"Loud and clear."

She pulled her dress up, causing her bosom to heave so high I thought they would fall out of the dress.  "Let me tell you a thing or two."  Now she was getting mad and I mean fast.  "People like you are the problem with the world.  You are so nosy you just think you have to know everything all the time.  Ever heard the term mind your own business?  Or keep your nose out of other folks business?  You're one of those guys who has to worry about everyone else, like you got no problems of your own.  Well, I'd say you've got plenty of problems, and let me start right here-- "

I quickly cut her off.  "I think I may have left something in my car," and I hurried out the door.  I ended up taking a long walk, and by the time I got back she was gone.  I don't expect presents or cards or even good wishes on my birthday.  But I was not in the mood to hear about all the things that are wrong with me from someone who just met me.  I quickly opened the washers and put my things in the dryer.  Then I got on my cell phone and looked for a nearby Japanese restaurant.  It was my birthday and I was going to treat myself to a delicious dinner.  And not worry about anymore laundry or disgruntled laundry customers.  I call them Bill's people.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


I had just driven a white utility truck to Richmond, Virginia, and it was no fun at all.  It was loaded down with heavy equipment from stem to stern, it had big ladders hanging outside on both sides.  And it kept on beeping at me constantly like it was scolding me as I drove on the freeway.  But I don't know why, it was hard enough getting the speed up to 70mph.

I'd spent the day pondering.  When I just finished college and moved to L.A., I had a huge crush on Kristy McNichol.  I actually met her and got a chance to ask her out to a movie.  She came along with her girlfriend, and they made out all through the film.  Next I fell for a comedian named Paula Poundstone, and only later learned of her preference.  I had the biggest crush ever on this comic actress I first saw on a show called OPEN HOUSE.  She was Ellen DeGeneres, and my crush was crushed when I saw her on the cover of a magazine proclaiming YEP I'M GAY.

I decided I had poor judgement, and it has been quite a while since I dared to have a crush.  Then I saw GHOSTBUSTERS (girls edition) and was attracted to Kate Mckinnon.  I soon discovered that she was the hottest rising star on Saturday Night Live.  And not too long after, that she is gay.

As I've written about many times before, my first ever girlfriend Karen decided that she was gay.  So it begs the question, what in the hell is wrong with me?  Why am I attracted to all these women who prefer the company of other women?  Is it something tomboyish?  I don't know if I want to go too far down that rabbit hole.  But the simple fact is that its happened to me multiple times, and I can't quite figure it out.

I suppose it all came to mind because I was going to Richmond, and felt a need to see Karen.  It had been well over a year since I had seen her, but not from a  lack of trying.  Every time I went through Richmond, she was gone.  The last time we had seen each other we shared intimacy, but after it was awkward and she seemed eager to leave.

When I called her cell number, she picked up on the first ring.  "Bill Thomas, where have you been you sneaky bastard?"

"Where have I been?" I asked with a chuckle.

"I know, I know, you've been traveling the highways of America."


"But no time anymore to stop in Richmond and see old Karen."

"Bull crap, I have been through at least a dozen times since we were together, and I called each and every time."

She busted up laughing.  "You never change do you?  I'm yanking your chain, pal.  I am in a new place, you got a pen?"

"You mean I'm invited over?"

"Depends on if you can find my address.  And how bad you want it."

"Oh, I want it," I said.

"You want it?"

I found myself nodding.  "I want it."

"You really want it?"

"Really, really.  Wait, what are we talking about, I've lost track."

She snickered.  "Well I know what you're talking about, your mind is always in the sewer."  She gave me her address and told me to meet her at 5pm at the house.  After dropping off the truck I delivered in St. Louis, I rented a car which I would use to get up to Chicago the following day.

When I arrived at her front door at 4:55pm, I reached to knock and she pulled the door open quickly before my knuckles could make contact.  "Special delivery for Karen from a driving fool."

Karen jumped into my arms.  "Come here you driving fool."  As she hugged me, she was pecking me with kisses all over my face, playfully but bringing me full satisfaction.  "Let's get inside and start drinking."  I could smell bourbon on her breath. 

"I think you got a head start."

She spun around and said, "So what if I did?"

"So nothing.  Make me one, too.  I thought you were a beer girl."

"Been dating a new girl named Greta, and I sort of took up Jack Daniels because that's what she drinks."  She made us both a Jack and Coke. 

I noticed that the hair on the right side of her face was partially covering it, so I gently reached up to brush it back and see her entire face.  She recoiled momentarily, and I could see a bruise on the far side of her face.  "Jeez, what happened here?"

She shrugged.  "I'm the ultimate klutz at the Cafe, I slipped and hit my head on a freezer door."

"You used to be so coordinated, I was always the klutz."

She had a faraway look in her eyes.  "Greta helps out at the Cafe."

I sat down and sipped my drink.  "Is that a good thing?"

Karen seemed lost in thought.  "Mostly.  She's just so crazy jealous, its hard to hire any girls to work for us."

"That sounds a lot like Cheryl."

Susan shook her head firmly.  "No way, Cheryl was nowhere near this bad."  I found this news disturbing, because Cheryl was pretty darn bad.  "Greta had followed me and really gone too far."


"So I gotta keep her under control and remind her of my boundaries."

"And does she comply?"

"Sometimes.  Most times.  Right now she is out of town.  And I have a huge favor to ask you."

"Name it gal, I'm all yours."

"Good.  Bill, I'm just very lonely right now, and need some loving comfort."

"You came to the right place," I said as I leaned in towards her, but she put her flat hand hard on my chest to stop me.

"Whoa boy.  Do you think it would be possible for us to get in bed together in loose fitting clothes and just cuddle while."

"Just cuddle, nothing else?"

"No nothing."

"I guess its possible, but..."

"Good."  She grabbed my hand and led me to her bedroom.  I kicked off my shoes and pulled off my shirt then climbed in bed.  She went into a big close and came out wearing a large football jersey.  We held each other and soon fell asleep.  I guess we both needed it.  When I awoke, she was giving me butterfly kisses on my eyes.  It is times like that when I feel like I love her and want to be with her forever.

"Hey you," I started.

"Hey what?"

"Can I just have one really good kiss, like the old days."

She raised one eyebrow very high.  "Oh you want an old days kiss, huh?"

"I don't know, kid, whadaya think?  You think a princess like you and a guy like me--"

She put her hand over my mouth to shut me up.  "Don't you dare quote STAR WARS to me."

"But you like STAR WARS."

She nuzzled her nose into the nape of my neck.  "I adore STAR WARS."

I held up a finger to make a point.  "Not as much as I love STAR WARS."

She suddenly began to kiss me passionately, and a hundred memories from high school and college days flooded through the canals of my brain.  "Bill, have you been getting training on the outside?"


"Don't play innocent with me, you are a much better kisser than the last time I kissed you."

"Maybe I got a  little practice in."  I started to kiss on my arm, and she giggled.  And then all of the sudden I was overcome by an overwhelming desire to be with Karen.  Just the two of us.  Forever and ever.  "Listen Karen, there's something I've got to say."

"You know you can tell me anything." 

I sat straight up.  "I love you, and I always have.  I know you like girls, you but you liked me first and still seem to like me from time to time."

Karen looked at her pillow with a defeated expression.  "I don't know what to say, but--"

"What the freaking hell is going on here?" came the roar of another voice from the door to the bedroom.  There stood a very butch-looking woman who for just a moment I thought was a guy. 

"Greta!" shouted Karen.

"Greta?" I asked in a half whisper.

"Answer me Karen, who is this, what's going on?  Tell me right now, right damn now."

"Honey wait, don't be mad.  It's Bill, he doesn't mean anything to me."  My heart has never sunk so low.  I grabbed my clothes and headed for the front door.  I had to get by Greta, who shoved me a little bit, but mostly she had her focus on Karen. 

"Bill, Bill, don't leave," pleaded Karen. "I will be in so much trouble."

"You play you pay."

"No, but its, no, you don't understand, its--"

"You need me to call the police?"

Greta turned on me with a deadly glare.  "No!"

Karen looked frightened.  "Oh, God no.  That will just make things worse."'

"Bye, bye." I said.  And I got into my rental car and left the premises.  It took a while for me to shake the shock and awe I had experienced.  I never could get over my deep love for Karen, even when she claimed herself as gay and lived with girlfriends.  There were no realistic expectations for marriage or a long term relationship, but I always felt that if I hung around long enough, who knows?  Someday?

But I could see that Karen had dropped herself into another unhealthy relationship.  A girl with even stronger rage issues and jealousy, plus a drinker who was encouraging Karen to drink, which probably helped the bruises not hurt so bad.  I've seen abuse before, and that was obviously what was going on there.  I'm learning each day that to move forward I have to let go of destructive things in my life.  So as sad as it makes me, I guess its time to let Karen go completely so she can enjoy her chosen life of lesbian love.  God bless her.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018


The date was February 4, 2018.  It was a brutally cold day in Minneapolis, where I had just delivered a car and was waiting to pick one up from a wealthy man who was attending the Superbowl.  My assignment would be to drive his Porsche to the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills.  Ah, sunny California, that would be a nice chance to thaw out from this frosty winter wonderland.

I had nothing better to do, so decided I would go near to the US Bank stadium and mingle with the crowds on their way in.  Maybe find a nearby bar where I could watch the game on a big screen TV.  My basic problem was that I didn't have anyone to cheer for.  I'm not really a fan of either team playing, so how do you pick someone and cheer for them?  And would those cheers be sincere and heartfelt?  Not likely.

My cell phone rang.  "This is Bill," I answered.

"Bill, is that you?"

"Yes, this is Bill Thomas."

"Bill, this is Terry, I'm the guy whose Porsche you will be driving."

"I'm near the stadium and I'm ready to roll."

"Hold your horses, hot rod!  You'll get the car as soon as the game is over."  We made a plan about when and where to meet, then I hung up and took a seat at the bar I had entered.  It was really just too cold to be outside.

"Hey, psst.  Hey you!"  I turned to see an enormously fat man standing face to face with me.  "I got Superbowl tickets."

I smiled.  "Lucky you."

"Maybe," he said.  "But maybe lucky YOU."

"I don't follow."

"Well would you follow these tickets to your seats in the Superbowl?"  He waved two very classy looking tickets in front of me.  "In other words, these tickets are for sale."

"No thanks."

"I don't believe you heard me.  This is the freakin' Superbowl.  I have end zone seats in the nosebleed section.  Two tickets for $6000, and you'd better believe that's a bargain."

I shook my head.  "That's a generous offer, but no."



"Are you telling me no?  Is that what you're saying?"

"Correct.  I don't have nearly that much money."

"Oh."  He looked down at his feet, seemingly forlorn.  "Where's my manners, I'm Louie.  Happy Superbowl Sunday."

"Same to you, Louie."

"So how about these tickets?"

"I don't have the money, and I don't have a team to root for."

He scratched his chin.  "Well, just how much do you have?"

For some dumb reason, I pulled out my wallet to show him the limit of my funds.  "I only have $200."

"Sold!" shouted Louie.

"No that's all I've got."

"And a damn fine bargain for Superbowl tickets."

I smiled politely.  "I gotta stick with no thank you."

"Do me a favor pal, hold the tickets in your hand.  Feel them."

"I don't need to--"  I was interrupted as Louie shoved them into my open hand.  My thumb inadvertently rubbed the print on the ticket a little too hard, and it smeared.  I looked down at it, then up at Louie.  "I think the ink is still wet."

"What?  What did you say?"  He grabbed the tickets away from me and seemed more than miffed.  "You had your chance, and it was the chance of a lifetime.  You lose, loser."  Louie hurried away.

I ordered an orange juice and cranberry juice mixture.  Virgin.  No Alcohol.  I still had to drive.  Then an older woman with a very wrinkled face and a fantastic tan stepped up from behind and blew towards my ear.  I could easily smell her breath, and it was strong with booze.  "Hey honey, want to step into the bathroom with me and do some blow?"


"Tootsky.  Snow.  Cocaine."

"Uh, no thank you."

"It's premium grade. And if you come with me I may let you have your way with me."  I moved quickly to the far side of the bar to get away from her, and then I watched the game.  All I could think was how friendly the people of Minneapolis are to visitors when the Superbowl comes to town.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


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?"


"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


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."


"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


"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 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 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!