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.

Monday, December 31, 2018

JESUS MEET SANTA

I had driven a car from South Carolina to Phoenix and was supposed to deliver there the day after Christmas.  My boss Riff had been calling me constantly harrassing me, but now that it was Christmas Eve I knew he'd be drunk and the calls would stop.

I found a mall near Goodyear, AZ and went inside to see what movies were playing at their theater.  There was a Starbucks when I first stepped inside, and I got a coffee and sat down to make a plan.  There was Christmas music playing in Starbucks, and I busied myself looking up showtimes on my phone.

"Mind if I sit here?" I heard a voice say.  I looked up and it was Santa Claus, the one who works in the mall I assumed.  It was easy to see that there were not any seats or tables available.

"Who am I to say no to Santa?  Please sit down."  And so he did.  "I bet you've been working very hard."

"Not half as hard as I will tonight."

"Well I am off the clock until the day after Christmas, so I can relax and eat and catch some movies."

"Alone?"

"Yes sir, my home is in Alabama and I haven't been back in a bit."

"No one should spend the holidays alone.  But then again, you're never alone."

"I'm not?"

"No.  The reason for the season is Jesus, and he's always with you."

"Oh right, of course."

"Don't be dismissive, I'm serious."

"Not dismissive, not at all.  You just caught me off guard."

"In what way?" he asked.

"I was surprised to hear Santa talking to me about Jesus."

"And why is that?"

"I guess I always grew up thinking of Santa as the fun part of Christmas, and baby Jesus being the serious part."

"You miss the beauty of the situation-- we are both the good parts.  There's plenty of room for goodwill especially during the holidays, and we both provide."

I smiled.  "This is really intereseting, its a religious-Santa crossover."

He stroked his beard.  "Why do you assume that old Santa isn't a God-loving man?"

"I mean, I guess I don't, I just never considered it."

He winked at me.  "You need to talk to God more often, and maybe listen to the Bible on audio books
while you're driving.  Lots of good life lessons in that book."

I felt a little bit awed.  "OK Santa, I will.  Can I ask you something?"

"Sure, anything."

"Have you ever met Jesus?"

Santa let out a good jolly laugh.  "Of course I've met him, I carry him with me in my heart every day.  If more people did the same, it sure would be a better world.  I've got to get to work now, Merry Christmas, Bill."

I had a sudden sense of deja vu, like meeting Santa had happened to me before.  But the man who is the spirit of Christmas talking to me about the spirit of God was pretty inspirational.

Friday, November 23, 2018

VIKING CAT FUNERAL ON THANKSGIVING

Death was heavy on my mind on Thanksgiving day 2018, and I didn't know why.  I was pulling into Hattiesburg, Mississippi to deliver a Ford Escape to a lady named Billie.  I called her Miss Sullivan on the phone, but she kept on insisting that I call her Billie.  She was not the first customer who wanted the car delivered on the holiday, it was becoming more common than I liked.  But a lot of drivers want to be with their families for Thanksgiving, and I have none to be with.  My plan was to drop off the car, then rent a car at Hattiesburg airport and drive it home to Birmingham.  I was so happy that my great friend Frank had invited me to share a turkey dinner at his home.  They were eating in the evening, and so the timing was perfect.

When I got to the address, I saw that there were a lot of cars parked out front, as if some type of event was taking place inside.  A short, chubby woman waddled over to me and took me by the hand.  "Welcome, and please come with me to the service."

"Service?"

"You are very late, you know."

"No, I think there's a mistake--"

Her eyes narrowed into slits and she jutted her stubby finger at me.  "It's always a mistake when a precious feline dies!"

"Feline?"

"Come, come," she said as she rushed me around the house to the backyard.  And I was amazed when I got there at the sight.  Dozens of people stood around looking solemn and reverent in the huge space behind the house on the edge of a lake.  A woman resembling an older version of actress Jessica Lange came out into the backyard, moving with a great deal of style and grandeur.  She was wearing a red kimono and she glided dramatically across the spanse between us.  "Welcome to Billie's place, I am so glad you could make it to our little affair," she said, with a cigarette burning in her left hand and a glass of red wine in her right.  "What was your name again?"

"Bill.  Bill Thomas.  I'm the driver you spoke to on the phone, I have your new car here."

"Where?"

"Right out front," I replied.

"I can't do that right now."

"You can't?" I asked, holding up my clipboard with the paperwork on it.  "Just sign here and I will be gone."

"But we are having a funeral here for the dearly departed Felix the cat."

"Felix?"

She was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion.  "I can't talk about this right now.  I am in mourning."  She spun around and appeared to sort of float away from me.  I walked down to the edge of the lake and found some men securing a raft upon which they laid a small box.  Presumably Felix in his coffin?  I saw her again and tried to move towards her.  I needed to get done with this delivery and head for Birmingham.  Right as I was approaching, she walked away towards the raft.

"Uh, Miss Sullivan?" I attempted.  But she raised her voice to make an announcement.

"Excuse me everyone, can I have your attention?  We'd like to get this started and move along.  Felix was with me for 18 years.  Felix the cat was a wonderful, wonderful cat."  I smiled to myself as those were the lyrics to my favorite childhood cartoon.  Billie saw my smile and pointed at me.  "Don't be ashamed to smile, Felix would have wanted you to.  Felix the cat would have wanted you all to be happy.  Just like he was, as he tore my furniture, brought dead mice and squirrels into my house as gifts.  He really lived an enchanted life, and now he is going to kitty heaven.  As is a tradition in my family for generations, we will send Felix on to the next plane of existence."  She stopped to light a match, then began sobbing.  "No, I can't do it.  Will you help me, Rock?"

Rock was a huge man who looked just like his name.  He leaned over and blew out the match, then he pulled a small portable blow torch out of his inside suit pocket.  He lit it up, then used it to light the raft on fire.  Rock and several other men pushed the raft out into the lake.

Billie spun around, now looking thoroughly joyous.  "That's it, everyone inside for drinks.  Let's get wasted."  Everyone made a bee line for the house, I guess they were all eager drinkers.  I hurried to intercept Billie, and she said to me "Oh, you again?"

"Yes Miss Sullivan, Bill Thomas."

"My name is Billie, and you should call me that.  Have you ever considered going by Billie instead of Bill?"

"Not really," I said, offering her the paperwork again.

"Well, that is just ridiculous.  What else you got, my wine glass needs a big refill."

"Just the car for you."

"You keep saying that same thing again and again.  What did you think of the funeral?"

"I liked the part about Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat.  Just like from the TV show."

Billie gasped and looked completely shocked.  "A TV show?  They made a TV show about my cat and I didn't even know about it?"  She seemed to be a bit loopy from the wine.

"No, it's--"

"How did they even film him without me knowing?  I never saw any men with cameras around my house.  The very idea."

"Billie, if you could just take a look at the car and sign for it, I will be on my way."

"After you have three drinks with me.  Three is my lucky number."

"No thanks, no drinks."

"You are a wet blanket mister, and that's for sure.  I think I would rather have you call me Miss Sullivan than Billie."

"OK, Miss Sullivan."

"That's Mrs. Sullivan to you!  I'm a widow, have you no heart?"  She clucked her tongue and said "I think I want you out of here.  Tell you what, I will sign the paperwork, but I refuse to go look at the car until you're gone."

"If you don't sign for it, you're accepting it as is."

"No, you are as is.  You are as is!  As in, 'as is' get out of here."  She grabbed my paperwork and signed for it angrily, then dropped my clipboard on the grass.  "Now leave, please!"  She flowed back into her house through an open sliding glass door.  I turned and was startled that the short lady who had brought me here from the driveway was standing right behind me.

"Time for you to go," she demanded.

"Yes, sorry, could you give Mrs. Sullivan a copy of her paperwork and keys to her new car?"

"Maybe I can and maybe not.  I will do it if you leave now."

I handed her a folded copy of the paperwork and the keys.  "I'm gone."  As I walked away I looked out at the lake and saw the burning raft floating away, I thought to myself, If there's a rock and roll kitty heaven, then I hope Felix is part of the band.








Sunday, June 17, 2018

DIRTY LAUNDRY BIRTHDAY

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?"

"Absolutely."

"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

LESBIAN LOVE

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."

"Yep."

"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?"

"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?"

"What?"

"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

SUPERIOR SUPERBOWL

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."

"No?"

"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?"

"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

'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.