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.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I was driving south from Syracuse to Florida, taking an elderly woman's car for her. Staring out the window, feeling sort of lonely. It gets that way sometimes out on the road, when you are by yourself and driving hundreds and hundreds of miles. I try not to dwell on the fact that there is no one waiting back home for me keeping a candle lit in the window. For that matter, there is no home to go to. I'm just a wanderer.

My cell phone rang. "This is Bill."

"Hello Bill, this is Mrs. Sherman." Ha, I thought to myself, speaking elderly women. "How are you today, Bill?"

"I'm fine, Mrs. Sherman, and yourself?"

"Oh good, good, fair to middlin'."

"That's good."

"Bill, I'm about to bake a batch of brownies, and I can't seem to remember where I put the recipe for them. Do you know where I put it?"

"No idea, ma'am."

"I'm using the Betty Crocker batter."

I paused. "Is it a box mix?"

"Why yes."

"Then the mixing and cooking instructions are right on the box."

"What? Why I'm looking at it right now, and you just happen to be right. Isn't that something?"

"Sure is."

"Well, I wish you were here to share the brownies with me."

"Maybe next time."

"Will you come and drive my car down to Florida again soon?"

"Anytime you're ready, just call my boss Riff."

It sounded like she dropped her phone, so I hung up. I had been reading signs for a Diner that sounded very interesting. There had been a series of humorous signs for the last 30 miles. So I got off at the next exit and decided to give it a try.

It was called FRANK'S PLACE and it said "For Those Who Know." I parked and walked in. A cute, chubby waitress said, "Hey darlin', just sit anywhere you want, I'll be along in minute."

I sat in a booth, and almost immediately felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and a big fellow in the booth behind me stared at me with a goofy grin. He was nodding his head, as if in anticipation. "Can I help you?" I asked.

"Maybe. Maybe."

"How can I help you?"

"You like movies?"

"Yes, I do. A lot, in fact."

"You ever see that great movie THE GODFATHER starring Steve Martin.  Hey just kidding, just kidding."

I smiled and turned back to my booth. A minute later, he tapped me on the shoulder again. I turned to him. "Yes?"

"Hey buddy, did you ever see that movie JAWS starring Jerry Lewis. Hey just kidding, just kidding." He turned his back to me, so I turned back in my booth. Odd, but I'm getting used to odd.

It wasn't long before I felt a tapping again on my shoulder, and I turned. "Hey, did you ever see that great comedy AIRPLANE! starring John Wayne. Just kidding, just kidding."

The waitress walked up about that time. Thank goodness! "Hi, I'm Sharon, and I'll be happy to help you. Whatcha havin'?" There was a tap on my shoulder again, causing Sharon to shout. "Al, you leave this poor man alone."

Al got defensive. "Hey, I didn't mean nothin'. I was just kidding, that's all."

"Mind your business, Al," she warned him.

"Can I get two egg and cheese sandwiches, and can you put tomato on them. And ice water."

"That's it?"

"Yep, I appreciate it." I felt a tap on my shoulder again, and shouted, "Make it to go." Then I looked back at Al. He was grinning mischievously and bobbing his head.

"Did you ever see that classic movie RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK starring Lucille Ball. Just kidding, I'm just kidding you." Then he jumped up and moved to my table, sitting across the booth from me. "This is silly, we shouldn't be back to back, we should face each other so we can talk better. Right? Right? Am I right?"

"Yes, I guess so."

"Did you ever see the movie STAR WARS with Mr. Tom Hanks starring in it? Hey, just kidding."

Desperate to change the subject, I said "I saw a billboard that said FRANK'S PLACE For Those Who Know. And I wondered, for those who know what?"

"They just know."

"But what is it they know."

Al's eyes got very wide, as he said, "Oh, they know. They know. Believe me when I tell you, they really do know." Al kept talking, but I sort of tuned him out until Sharon got back with my food. I had the cash all ready for her, tip included, and I got up to leave.

"Well Al, it was real nice talking to you. Just kidding."

He looked stunned, and then he laughed and pointed at me. "Oh, you're kidding me. When you said you were kidding, you were just kidding. You are a kidder."

"Goodbye Al."

"See you here tomorrow?"

"Doubtful." As I got into the car and drove away, I had to think that interaction with any human being was better than abject loneliness. Even if he was one of "Bill's people."

Friday, September 9, 2011


What is it about Truck stops? They seem to be a haven for "Bill's people," the wacky people who find me wherever I go and engage me in... well, you never can tell.

I was at a truck stop just north of Ocala, Florida the other day, and as I was putting gas into a Ford Fusion, a redneck gentleman approached me. "Hello, sir," he said to me very politely. He looked like a Florida cracker, but he spoke like a real proper gent. "I know you are going to hate me for this, but I have to ask you a question."

I anticipated his request for a handout. "What do you need?" I asked.

"Please don't think too badly of me, but my truck is running on fumes. I need gas to get back home to Gainesville. Home of the University of Florida. Home of the Florida Gators. Go Gators." He held up a fist to emphasize his love of the Gators, though he didn't seem too enthused. "Now I need $60 in gas to get back to Gainesville, but I just don't have it. I don't have a dime. I don't have a nickel."

I considered what he'd said. It was only 28 miles to Gainesville, and it should not take $60 of gas to get there. I mean gas prices are sky high, but come on! I shook my head and said, "Sorry, but I--"

"Now please don't judge me too harshly. I'm sure you'd like to slap my face right about now, but I'm not asking for you to give me money."

"You're not?"

"No sir, not at all. In my truck, I have something very special. Have you ever heard of Arnold Palmer? He was a golf player."

"Yes, I know who Arnold Palmer is."

"You may have heard that they named a drink after him. A very refreshing drink called an Arnold Palmer. One part lemonade, one part iced tea. Truly delicious."

"Yes, I've had an Arnold Palmer."

"Oh, you've had one? Well then, you know."

"Yes, I know."

"I'm sure you'd like to kick me in the balls right about now, but the fact is I have a putter in my car that used to belong to Arnold Palmer."


"Sir, this is not something that I would kid around about. And I'm willing to sell it to you for only $40. Now that won't be enough to buy me gas to get home to Gainesville, but I'll take what I can get."

"No thanks."

"Sir, I'm quite sure you hate my guts by now, but how can you turn down an offer like this? I'm selling it to you for $40, but you can go anywhere and sell it for $400. Maybe even $500."

"Then why don't you sell it for that much?"

"Alas, I have no gas to get to one of the fine establishments that would offer me such a sum. Sir, do you realize who Arnold Palmer is?"

"Yes, I'm well aware."

"Champion golfer."


"Refreshing drink named after him?"

"OK, yes, I know who he is, I know the drink, but I don't want the putter."

"Is it something I said? Was it my sales technique?"

"I don't need it, and I don't have the money to buy it."

He looked down at his feet, as if he couldn't bare to make eye contact with me. "I'm sure you would love to knock my teeth out right now, but I have to say that I think you are making a huge mistake. Arnold Palmer is a legend."

I finished pumping my gas and put the nozzle back on the hook. "Yep, and I'm sure that someone will want to buy it. You do have a note of certification, don't you?"

He glared at me. "How dare you." And he walked away.

I went into the Truck stop to use the restroom and get a cup of coffee. I was a little short on cash, but now I had a few loose singles and change in my pocket. When I went back out to my car, I could see the guy was trying his scam out on another customer. Only this new victim was not nearly as patient as me. He told the guy where to go, got in his car, and sped away.

I came up behind the guy, and pulled the money out of my pocket. "Hey there."

He turned, and looked at me with total disdain. "Oh, you again."

"Yep, me again. Here you go." I handed him 3 dollars and change. He took it and stared at it for a long time.

"I hope you don't expect me to sell you Arnold Palmer's favorite putter for this. That is totally ridiculous, you've got to be kidding me."

"No, I don't want the putter. I just thought this might help you out."

He snorted. "Yeah, right. I'll take your money, but I want to be on record as saying the amount you gave me is an insult. You need to look in your heart and try to find a little more kindness for your fellow man." He walked away from me shaking his head.

I try to help others. But sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.