I was driving south in Maryland towards Baltimore just the other day. It was that time of year when I drive elderly Mrs. Sherman's car from there down to south Florida, where she spends the winter. I was nearing the tunnel that takes you underwater, when my cell phone rang.
"This is Bill."
"Hello Bill, this is Mrs. Sherman. I was just wondering what time today you are coming to get my car."
"Uh... well, I'm driving it right now. I just picked it up from you about an hour ago."
"What? You did? Oh yes, that's correct, I seem to remember now. Yes, in fact I'm looking in my garage right now and see that the car isn't there. So it's a comfort to me to know that you have it."
"I have a batch of cookies in the oven, they should be ready by the time you get here with my car."
"No Mrs. Sherman, I'm on my way to your home down in Florida."
"Oh, of course. Well, I don't know if I'll have any cookies down there to offer you."
"I would offer you a gratuity when you arrive in Florida, but I know you are a man of integrity and so I won't insult you by offering."
"I'll see you in two days, Mrs. Sherman. You have a safe flight." I hung up and chuckled to myself. She's a nice lady, but her 94 year old mind seems to be playing tricks on her. And she gives me that line about not insulting me with a tip every single time I drive her car south to Florida, or back north in the Springtime.
When I got into Baltimore, I exited so I could get a snack and find a restroom. After I was done and as I was pulling out, I came to a red light and had to stop. A large man wearing nasty looking clothes ran up and began to spit on my window and wipe it with the sleeve of his coat. I rolled down my window and told him, "Don't wash my window, buddy. I'm fine."
In a blink of an eye, the man had stuck his head and upper torso into my window and pointed a knife at me. It wasn't a big knife, but it looked sharp enough to do some serious damage. "Get the hell out of this car right now," he said in an extremely menacing tone. "This car is mine now. And leave your money behind."
Something inside of me just sort of clicked, and not in a good way. All of the people who have mistreated me, taken money from me, hurt me out on the road... and now this guy. My mind said ENOUGH! ENOUGH! Though I know in retrospect it was foolish, I rolled up the window quickly. As he realized what I was doing, he tried to back out, but the window caught him and trapped him. I slammed my foot on the accelerator and ran through the red light. He began trying to slash the knife at me, but I grabbed his wrist with firm determination and would not let go. I banged my head up against his. Then I began to weave wildly, with his feet dragging heavily on the pavement as we went. I made several very fast unexpected turns on streets, first to the right, and then to the left.
"Let me out of here! You crazy!" he screamed.
"Gonna take my car? Gonna take my money? No you're not, not today!"
"Please God, let me out."
"My name isn't God, its Bill Thomas, and you picked the wrong guy today! I've had it! You hear me! I've had it with you sons of bitches. You take and take and hate and..." I was furious and a bit irrational. I finally turned into an alley, and slowed down only slightly as I rolled the window down and aggressively shoved him out.
As I drove away, my ears were hot and ringing. I looked at myself in the rear view, and saw my face was bright red. There was a fire in my eyes. All I ever try to do is be kind to people, but today was another kind of day. I continued my journey to Florida, feeling pretty good about taking a stand.