I have been running all over the state of Florida the past two weeks, dropping off cars here and there.
A few days ago, I had an assignment to drive a car to a man in Tampa.
I called him the day before to see what time of morning he'd like me to arrive.
"Early," he told me. "Very, very early. Is that a problem for you, Bill?"
"Oh, no sir. But just how early would you like me."
"7am. Not 7:01, not 7:02, but 7am."
"No problem sir, I can be there at 6:55am."
"Not 6:55, not 6:59, but 7 sharp. Are we clear on that?"
"Very clear, sir."
So, I got up extremely early so that I could drive to the far Northwest
side of Tampa, and got to his neighborhood 5 minutes early. It was a gray
and overcast morning. I parked down the street out of sight, for I didn't
want to arrive one second too early. Or too late for that matter.
When I pulled into the driveway at 7am, he walked out into the yard.
He stopped short, and put his hands on his hips and shook his head
with disgust. "No, no, no."
"Good morning sir, here is your new company car."
"And I'm supposed to live with this? You expect me to just accept this? "
"It's a nice car, I just drove it here from Orlando."
"Says you. Come here, look at this." He pointed out a tiny scratch on
the front bumper, and another one on the rear bumper. "I'm supposed
to drive a car like this?"
"I did note those marks on my condition report."
"I don't give a damn about your condition report. I have to drive a car
around town with nasty scratches on it. How do you think that makes me feel?
What do you suppose people will say?"
I shrugged, unsure what to say.
He pointed into the back seat, where somehow a single small brown leaf
had flown in and rested on the seat. "Look, the seats are filthy. They're
covered with leaves." I picked up the single leaf and tossed it out. "And
how am I supposed to fit my kid's car seats back here, there's so little
leg room?" While I said nothing, what I was thinking was 'your company
does not provide you a car to drive your kids around in.'
Right at this moment, his wife came out to the car. You could say that she had
a bit of an attitude. Or a chip the size of Texas on her shoulder. When she looked into the car, she said to her husband
"This is totally unacceptable, tell the boy to take it back."
"What's wrong, ma'am?" I asked.
"I was speaking to my husband, not to you. But since you ask, this has a single CD player in it. We prefer a 6-loader."
I had visions of a recent encounter with a woman named Nora, and only hoped that this
woman wouldn't produce a baseball bat. "I'm sorry sir, but this is the car your company gave me to bring to you."
The man shook his head. "And you just do as you're told. How do you look yourself in the mirror each day? You ought to be ashamed of yourself, treating decent people this way."
"Do you want the car?" I asked.
He reluctantly signed for it, just as raindrops began to fall. I grabbed my bag, and he asked me, "How are you getting out of here?"
"I'm catching a bus at the corner of Linebaugh and Montezuma."
The rain began to fall hard. "That's a mile and a half away from here. I'd start running if I were you."
By the time I got to the bus stop, I was soaking wet. But the rain sort of washed away the bad taste this ungrateful man left in my mouth.