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, July 31, 2011


I had made a reservation to take a train after dropping off a car in Illinois. The agent I spoke to on the phone assured me that he would send an email confirmation, which was great because I was driving at the time and couldn't write it down. The reservation was made a full week before I'd be on the train so I felt good and secure about it.

But a few days before I was to arrive there, I still had not received that email. So I called the 800 number and waited on hold for a very long time until an agent answered. Finally, a lady answered "Yes, how can I help you?" I thought I detected a haughtiness in her voice, but ignored it and offered my usual cheerful greeting.

"Happy Saturday to you?"

"What did you say?"

"I said Happy Saturday. Just a friendly greeting."

"I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to do business. Do you have some business to take care of today?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'm calling about a reservation I made last week."

"Confirmation number, please?"

"That's the thing, I don't have it."

"You don't have it?"

"No, I'm sorry, you see --"

"How in the world do you expect me to find it if you don't have it?" She sounded bemused and not a little patronizing.

"That's the problem, ma'am. See, I made the reservation by phone, and--"

"Well then, you should have written the confirmation number down right then and there." There was most definitely a condescending tone creeping into her voice.

"The thing is I was driving at the time, and had one hand on the wheel and the phone in the other, so I couldn't write, and--"

"Oh no, you should never drive and talk on the phone. That's very dangerous. Next time pull over on the shoulder if you want to have a conversation."

I paused. "Well, you are right, I probably should not have been talking and driving, but--"

"You definitely should not have been. In many states, you'd be violating the law. Now we can't have that, can we?"

"No, I guess not."

"So, how can I help you today?"

"The agent I spoke to promised to email me a confirmation number, and--"

"He promised you? I sincerely doubt that. He may have told you that he would, and I'm sure his intentions were good, but that is no guarantee that you will receive an email."

"I promise you that he said he'd send it."

"He promised you, you promise me, where is all this leading, sir?"

I felt confused, for this woman sounded like my elementary school teacher challenging me on having understood the homework assignment. "He said he'd send it, but it never came."

"I'd say that's the fault of the Internet, you can't depend on modern technology. I'm quite sure that he sent it, but it's probably floating out there somewhere in the ether."

"OK, no argument there, but now I need to figure out a way to find my reservation number so I can confirm my trip."

"Well sir, you should have written it down."

"As I said, I was driving at the time."

"Remember sir, never drive and talk on the cell phone."

"Yes, right, OK, I will never do that again. But in the meantime, what information can I give you that will pull up my reservation?"

"I'll need your confirmation number."

I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Right, but I don't have that. I can give you my name, the date of travel, the time and place of departure and arrival."

She sounded sugary sweet as she said, "I'm so sorry, but none of that will help me at all. Without a confirmation number, I'm afraid you are out of luck. May I suggest that next time you write it down."

"I couldn't."

"Because you were breaking the law and driving while talking on your cell."

"Are you kidding me? May I please speak to a supervisor?"

"I'm sorry sir, but it's Saturday. No supervisors are on duty."


"Oh, I am always serious. I take my business very seriously."

"Can I speak to a department to make an appeal for unusual circumstances or special cases?"

"Now sir, you know full well that we don't have anything like that. No such thing exists."

I was frustrated beyond belief. "Can I just please speak to someone else?"

"I'm so sorry sir, but I'm afraid I am the final word on this matter. I have explained things to you, and you'll just have to accept it. My suggestion to you is to wait until the day that you're traveling and go to the train station, and hope that your reservation is still there. Don't forget your ID."

"But I need to pay for the ticket. I called to give you my credit card information."

"And I'd be happy to take it. If only you have a confirmation number for me."

"What if I get to the station and they don't have my reservation?"

"Then I guess you won't be riding with us. Life is a gamble sir, a roll of the dice. Sometimes we just have to leave things to fate. Have a nice day." She hung up.

I was beyond stunned. How could this have happened. I called the number again, was put on hold for a half hour, and when a man answered I told him the whole story. He was laughing throughout my tale, and when I was done he said, "You know, if this happened in a movie, it would be hilarious. But I believe you, this truly happened to you, and its sad and pathetic that someone should treat you that way. I don't know how we can trace down this woman, but karma will come back and bite her in the ass. The good news is that I can help you with your reservation." And he did.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


In all the years I've been driving, I've still never met my boss Riff. To me, he's just a very unpleasant voice on the phone who gives me my assignments. But I felt it was time to meet him face to face and confront him about his new idea to have me only drive up and down the east coast. From Miami to Maine, and all states in-between. I like traveling all over America, and was afraid that this limitation might mean I'd potentially make less money. Not that I make all that much already.

He gave me the address of his office, so I got there very early in the morning. I waited for him to arrive, and suddenly a large cube van came bouncing up into the parking lot moving way too fast. The vehicle looked like it was out of control, but it came to a screeching halt just short of hitting the building.

The door opened, and out came Andy the crazy driver. The last time I had seen him he was in his underwear galloping around a Bob Evan's parking lot, shouting out dialogue from the movie TRUE GRIT.

"So its you again," Andy said with malice in his voice. "My old adversary. My nemesis. Number one on my hit list, and that's number one with a bullet."

"Hi, Andy."

"Don't try that 'Hi Andy' crap with me. No sir! You left me out in a parking lot, and I don't forgive that. I may forget it, but I won't forgive it."

"I left because you were acting like a maniac, and I wanted to get to work."

"Maniac? You're calling me a maniac? Well let me tell you something, the police showed up soon after you left, no thanks to you. How do you feel about that?"

I shrugged. "Honestly, I don't feel much at all. You made your bed."

"I don't sleep in a damn bed, I sleep on the hard cold ground like a man, like the men of the old west, like pioneers who made our country great."

I nodded. "Whatever you say. I'm just here to see Riff."

"I knew it! I knew you were trying to stab me in the back. Well it won't work, Mister."

"What won't work?"

"It. You. The plan." Andy pulled out a prescription pill bottle and poured several into his mouth.

"What plan, Andy?"

"Oh you are good, you're very, very good. You look at me like a friend, but you plot against me like the most cunning enemy. It reminds me of that movie... uh..."

"Which movie?"

"Any number of movies where the bad guy has it in for the good guy!"

"I'm supposed to be the bad guy here?"

Andy snapped his fingers. "STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, that's one of the movies that has the theme I speak of. Khan wants to kill Captain James T. Kirk so bad. So very bad. But guess who prevailed in the end?"


"No, the good guy, its always the good guy. Now listen good, I've had about enough of your plethora of chicanery."

"Gee Andy, your vocabulary is increasing."

"Don't tease me, don't you dare."

"Calm down, I'm just going to speak to Riff and then I'm going to leave. Is that OK?"

"No it is not OK. Riff explained to me that you want to take my routes, and that he's putting you exclusively on the east coast. Well two can play this game."

"What game?"

"The game of life, butterball. I'm gonna take your east coast route, and then you'll have nothing. Nothing! You hear what I'm saying? You are an interloper, and I'm going to cut off your lopes and feed them to you for breakfast, with a side order of sausage gravy." Andy stopped and got emotional. "No one could make sausage gravy like my dear old Aunt Bessie." He wiped the tears from his eyes. "You bastard, why did you have to go and mention Aunt Bessie. Damn you to hell." Andy jumped into the cube van, started it and revved the engine. Then he backed into a building and knocked some plaster loose, and then drove off a high curb onto the street.

By now I should be used to encounters with Andy, but he can still shake me up a bit with his odd behavior. My cell phone rang. It was Riff. "I am waiting outside your office, Riff."

"I know you are, my little plum dumpling. But I'm on vacation elsewhere."

"Why did you tell me to come here, then?"

"Oh, it was you who wanted to come and meet with me. So I called Andy and told him you were out to take his territory. I told him he could find you at my office this morning. Has he arrived yet?"

"Yes, he was here. Why in the world would you tell him that?"

"Because I can. Because its fun. Now he wants your head for lunch."

"I think Andy is more of a breakfast guy."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Never mind. Riff, I don't need that crazy SOB having some kind of vendetta against me. I'll be looking over my shoulder all the time."

Riff giggled with glee. "Oh thank you, that image just made my day. You are so right, Andy will hound you all the way to the gates of Hell and back. You are now number one on the top of his shit list."

"So you just wanted to pit him against me?"

"Yes I certainly did. Gotta say, feels great." Riff hung up.

As if I don't have enough to worry about with road rage drivers, thieves, vagabonds, and 'Bill's people' out there on the highways, now I have nutty Andy gunning for me. Oh well, at least I know I can seek refuge at Karen's Natural Cafe every week if I'm driving the east coast route.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Today I got a call from Karen Robbins, the girl I am still very deeply in love with and probably will be for the rest of my life. I was driving north on I-95, and traffic was unusually thick and congested. So it made my day a whole lot brighter when I heard the cell phone ring and saw her name pop up.

"Hey you driving fool, what's up?" she said with a bounce in her voice.

"My blood pressure, it always shoots skyward when my heart skips a beat. When I hear from the girl of my dreams."

"Cut it out, knucklehead."

"How are things in Indianapolis?"

"That's why I'm calling you. There's been a big change in my life."

"Tell me more."

"I'm closing the Cafe here. Cheryl and I are quits, and we won't be living together or working together. Well, obviously."

"Obviously," I said, with relish and glee.

"I can hear you smiling on the other end of the phone, Bill."

"No, no, I'm sorry to hear the bad news."

"Yeah, I just bet you are." She laughed. "This doesn't mean I'm going to be rushing into your arms now."

"What does it mean? Seriously, what happened between you two crazy kids in love?"

"It's a long story, and I'll tell you all about it next time I see you."

"OK, so what are you going to do?"

"I'm moving, and I'm going to open my very own little place. All natural, healthy food."

"Healthy but delicious," I said.

"Of course delicious. And natural."

"Naturally. So where is it?"

"Richmond, Virginia. I found an existing place there I can buy."

I got chill bumps. "No way!"

"Yes way."

"You won't believe this, but I'm on my way to Richmond to deliver a car right now."

"No kidding?"

"I drive up and down the east coast now more than any other route I deliver."

"I know that."

"I'm up and down I-95 almost every single week nowadays."

"I know that, too."

"Karen, I'll see you all the time."

"Yes, that did cross my mind."

I began to feel a little bit cocky. "So, you want the chance to see me more often."

"Calm down, loverboy. The fact is that you are one of my closest friends in the world, and I miss you tons. You are my touchstone, my confidante, and someone I always know I can lean on."


"No 'and', Romeo. I'm gay, remember?"

I cleared my throat. "Yes, I know. But I also know that I had the most passionate sex of my life with you."

"That was years ago. Besides, I just got out of this long term relationship with Cheryl. It ended badly. The last thing I want to think about right now is getting involved with anyone. Right now what I need more than anything is a friend."

I chewed on my tongue for a moment, deep in thought. "And you've got one, right here. I'll be there for you."

"I know you will. This is gonna be fun, we'll see each other all the time, and you can tell me in person about the adventures on the road that I've been reading about in your Blogs. And I'll feed you and make sure you eat healthy."

"And hugs and kisses?"

"Lots of hugs, maybe a peck on the cheek."


"Maybe I'll goose you every now and then."

"Oh baby, talk dirty to me!"

"Shut up. Listen, I gotta go, but I just wanted to share this news with you. You are the first person I've told. I'll be seeing you real soon." She paused. "Hey, Bill?"


"I am so glad that I have a friend like you." I could swear I heard her voice crack. "I really do love you, you know that?"

"I know that. And I love you, too. Forever. Always. Deeply. Passionately."

"OK, that's enough of that crap. See ya." She hung up.

I drove the rest of the way to Richmond feeling mighty fine. This sounded like a new turn of events in the life of a driving fool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


After two weeks of nearly non-stop car deliveries, I didn't have anything set after dropping off the current car, which was headed to Boulder, Colorado. I was driving along and wondering what I would do, where I would go next, and how I might celebrate the 4th of July weekend. Then my cell phone rang, and caller ID told me it was my boss Riff.

"This is Bill," I answered.

"Knock, knock."

"What do you need, Riff?"

"Knock, knock."

"Riff, have you got some work for me?"

"I said 'Knock, knock,' dammit, now you have to say 'Who's there'."

I paused and quietly sighed. "Who's there?"


"Ass who?"

"You! You're an asshole." He roared with laughter.

"That doesn't even make any sense, Riff. Tell me you've got my next assignment."

"There is no next assignment, I just want to know when the hell you're gonna finish the job you're on right now."

"I should be in Boulder before noon."

"You shoulda been there already, Stay Puff. You been stopping along the way to choke your chicken?"

"Riff, I always make good time and you know it."

"I'll tell you what I know, you little pansy. You are lucky that I give you any work at all. You hear what I'm saying?"

"Have a happy 4th of July, Riff." I hung up.

Once I had delivered the car, I got my bag and caught the nearest city bus. I took it downtown and found a little Coffee Shop with free Wi Fi. I began to check my options for getting out of Boulder. Greyhound is no longer an option for me, every single time I've ridden it was a disaster. So I checked plane and train schedules, along with available rental car agencies. The big problem was, I really had nowhere to go. I usually have another car to go pick up, but not this time. And that wasn't likely to change until next Tuesday, when the holiday weekend was officially over. All I really wanted was to see fireworks on Independence Day.

So I decided I'd stay in Boulder. I walked down the streets looking for a local movie theater. Not a big multiplex, but hopefully an old-style single screen theater that had been around for years. I just love those places. Call it nostalgia.

I passed an alley and a cute girl caught my eye. She was smoking a cigarette, all alone. She was wearing white kitchen worker's garb, and had a hair net on. Not a raving beauty, but definitely alluring to me. Sort of reminded me of Karen Allen in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

"Hey you," she called.


"No, the other you. Come here." I noticed she had an Irish lilt in her voice.

I walked over to her, feeling intrigued. "What can I do for you?"

"The real question is what can I do for you."

"I don't follow you."

"No, but I bet you would. To the ends of the earth, if I asked you to."

I scratched my chin. "I don't know what you are talking about, but somehow I want to know more."

"I saw the way you looked at me when you saw me from over there. You stopped and took a good look."

"Didn't mean any harm."

"And I'm not complaining. I rather enjoyed it."

"Did you, now?"

"Yep. What's your name, sailor?"

"Bill, uh, Bill Thomas."

She stuck her hand out to shake. "Sheryl Finnegan, pleased to meet you Mr. Bill, uh, Bill Thomas."

I shook her hand, and I honestly felt a slight spark of some kind pass between us. "The pleasure is all mine."

"Well, maybe not all yours. We'll see how it goes."


She pointed to my bag. "Traveling man? Just passing through?"

"I drive cars for a living. Just dropped one off here in Boulder."

"And now?"

"Planning my next move. Thought I might hang out in Boulder for the weekend."

"Good plan. And do what?"

"That's the part I haven't figured out yet."

"I have an idea, and its a dandy. Will you trust me?"

"Uh, yeah, sure."

She held out her hand for me. "Then take my hand and follow me to paradise." She led me into a door from the alleyway. I found myself in a huge kitchen with other people dressed just like her toiling away, cooking what looked like enough food for an army. "Welcome to the Mission, we provide meals for people who can't afford their own. We can always use an extra hand. Are you game?"

A warm feeling spread through my body. "Yes. Yes I am."

"Hey everyone, we got a new helper here. Mr. Bill Thomas of..." She leaned into me. "Where'd you say you're from?"


"Birmingham in the U.K.?"

"No, Alabama."

"Mr. Bill Thomas from Birmingham will be helping us today." The group of people waved and said hello, and Sheryl took me to a back room to get me something to wear.

I spent the afternoon peeling potatoes, cutting vegetables, stirring stew, pulling large cookie sheets in and out of huge ovens, and sweeping the floors now and again. Then I was out on the serving line for a few hours, spooning out portions of the food we had all made to some folks who looked like they have it pretty tough in life. I lost my home and my car, but I make enough money to eat and get by. Seeing these people in need made me put my own situation in perspective. And to do something to help felt good, just felt right.

All through the day I kept on sneaking glances at Sheryl. And more often than not, she'd catch me looking and flash me a sweet smile.

At the end of the day, after I had finished helping wash the dishes, I looked around to find this charming girl and could not see where she'd gone. I took off my whites and grabbed my bag, heading out the door. As I walked down the alley, I heard her call, "And just where do you think you're going?"

"My shift is over, I'm dead tired, and I'm going to find a hotel room."

"Without even saying goodbye to me?" She walked nearer to me. "And thanking me for a fun-filled day full of frivolity."

"Thank you."

"No lad, thank you. Most fellas would cut and run when I took them into the kitchen. But you rolled up your sleeves and helped, and you even seemed to enjoy yourself."

I shrugged. "Weird thing about me. I've come to learn to enjoy helping people."

She got very close, completely invading my personal space. "Nothing weird about it. I call it nice. There's not enough nice in the world."

"So you think I'm nice?"

"I don't think it, I know it."

"Well if you'd like to know what I think, --" She interrupted me with a long, slow, soft kiss on the lips. It made the top of my head tingle. She pulled back and looked into my eyes like no girl has done for many, many years. "Thank you ma'am, may I have another?" And she gave me another, even longer and better, with a little tongue wrestling involved.

"So," she said when we came up for breath, "I propose that you come and stay at my place."

"All weekend?"

"For tonight, and then we'll see."

"You have a spare couch I can sleep on?"

"No, but I have a bed big enough for two."

"You get right down to business, don't you?"

"I speak my mind," she said. "And frankly, you stink from the kitchen. Let's get you home and let me give you a good scrubbing down in the shower." She slipped her arm in mine and we walked together down the alley. I don't know about her, but I know that I was walking on air.

And I got my wish for the 4th of July. I saw fireworks all weekend long.