I was told by my boss Riff to pick up a car from a lady in Florida. The car was going to her horse ranch up in Virginia, 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C. And he told me that she was the great niece of a famous former President of the United States.
Riff called me at the last minute to say that another driver would be meeting me at her Florida mansion. He said that she had two cars, and that we were to drive them north in tandem. When I walked up her driveway, I heard a male voice say loudly, “It’s you!” Out from behind a big tree stepped Andy, the paranoid driver who I had come across several times in the past. He was obviously high as a kite.
“Hello Andy,” I said.
“Don’t call me that. Do not call me Andy like we are friends. You always conspire against me.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean you to mistake me for being a friend. I was just trying to be polite and civil.”
“Don’t try any of that stuff either. Hear me? I’ve had just about enough of you, Mister. I know you and your game, you are out to get me!”
“Oh no, you can’t just blow me off like yesterday’s news. We are being forced to work together, to ride in tandem, to caravan together. So just remember that I’m in charge.”
“I’ll be going my own way, I suggest you do the same.”
“You will be subservient to me, you will follow my directions. You follow me? Cuz if you don’t, I will punish you. I will come down on you like the wrath of God, or worse, like the wrath of a woman scorned. God has no wrath like a woman scorned!”
The lady walked out the door. She seemed distracted and a little bit haughty. I tried to shush Andy. “Shh, quiet, here she comes,” I pleaded.
“Don’t you shush me, I will not be shushed.”
“I will not be shushed by the likes of you. Say, do you know who her father is?”
“Andy, shut up.” She stepped up to us. “Hello ma’am, I’m Bill Thomas and he’s Andy.”
“Fine. Who is driving the Escalade?” She held out a set of keys.
Andy stepped forward and snatched the keys from her hand. “That will be my honor. I am the best driver in our company, and proud of it. By the way, I loved your father. He was the best leader this country ever had.”
She let out a resigned sigh. “He was my great uncle.”
Andy winked at her. “I know he was, I just bet he was. You guys must be rich, based on what I’m seeing here. How much would you say you’re worth, total assets?”
The woman looked perturbed and not a little shocked. “That’s none of your business. Just do your job.”
Andy acted like he was trying to flirt. He leered at her and spoke suggestively. “You do YOUR job.” Much as I don’t care about Andy, I was feeling embarrassed for him. He was so clueless.
She turned to me. “So you’ll be driving my Mercedes?”
“Yes. I will be there day after tomorrow.” She turned and went back into the house.
Andy began to give me instructions about how we were going to drive, when we were going to take breaks. I completely ignored him, climbing into the Mercedes sedan and taking off. The car was so full that there was barely enough room for me and my duffel bag. She had loaded it beyond capacity, and I was worried that I couldn’t see out the back window.
It was a long hard drive up to Virginia. There were a whole lot of snowbirds going up I-95 from Florida to their summer homes in the northeastern states. The problem with all these many senior citizens on the road all at once is that some of them go 65mph, some 60, and some 50. It causes a whole lot of unnecessary traffic backups. Especially when the ones going 50mph get in the left lane and just stay there. Most people just line up behind them like there is no other choice. I personally get into the right lane and cruise on by them. The speed limit is 70, and that is what I intend to do.
I called the former President’s niece early on the day I was set to deliver. She was not answering her phone, so I simply told her voicemail what time I would arrive. As I neared her horse ranch, the roads got more winding and narrow, and following the Mapquest instructions became increasingly difficult. The final dirt road that led five miles to her property was one lane, and made things tricky when an huge truck came towards me from the opposite direction. I had to press the car on the side as close as I could snuggle up to a barbed wire fence. Even then, I was not too sure that the truck would get by me. There were literally inches to spare.
When I pulled up in front of her ranch house, she came marching out in a huff and put her hands on her hips. “Where is the other guy?”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“The guy driving my Escalade. He left a very strange message for me this morning saying that he was going to take some time and stop at Civil War battlefields along the way. He said my father would understand.”
“I think he meant your great uncle.”
“I know what he meant. I don’t care what he meant. Where is my Escalade?”
“I think you should call my boss Riff.”
“No, I’m asking you.”
“No disrespect meant, but I got your Mercedes here safely. I can’t be responsible for another driver.” Especially when it’s Andy, I thought to myself.
“Leave the car there, I’m going inside to call your boss. You may leave.”
“I have to wait for the airport shuttle to come and pick me up.”
“Honestly, I am not happy with you waiting here on my property.”
I looked around at the vast nothingness. “I’m not sure where else I can wait.”
“Just please make yourself scarce.” She stormed inside, very unhappy.
I walked up the driveway to the dirt road, guessing I could see the shuttle better when it came to pick me up. As I walked along, a large mocha colored dog came running up to me. He really wanted to be friends, and I really love dogs. So I bent down and petted him. He licked me on the face. After a few minutes, I continued up the driveway, and he followed me. The woman came out the door and began to shout. “Potus! Potus! Come back here.” The dog didn’t budge. “Potus, get down here right now! Potus! I will whip you if you don’t get down here.” I felt sorry for the dog. I would not want this woman to be mad at me, but Potus seemed happy to hang out with me. So I started walking back down towards the house, and the dog followed me. She pointed at me. “What are you doing?” she said, sounding confused and nervous.
“Why are you coming back into my yard?”
“The dog is following me.”
“The dog is coming because I called the dog. You can stay up by the road.” I stopped, and the dog stopped next to me. The woman seemed irritated. She turned on her heel and went into the house. Then she came back out onto the porch carrying a raw steak. “Potus!” The dog went bounding towards her, and she went into the house. The dog followed her, and she slammed the door hard.
As I stood waiting for the airport shuttle, my cell phone rang. “Hello, Riff.”
“I just got a very upset call from the lady you delivered to. She said you were molesting her dog.”
“I pet the dog, that’s all.”
“Why in the world did you deliver without Andy?”
“Because Andy is a flake. He called the lady and said he is stopping to tour Civil War battlefields on his way up. He may show up in the next two days.”
“Well then, your job is to back him up. He happens to be patriotic. If he delays delivery, then so do you.”
“No sir. I deliver promptly and responsibly, on time as promised.”
“You are a freakin’ boy scout. No one likes a good citizen. You need to get rough around the edges and learn to be a man!”
I hung up. Then I turned and looked at the house where Potus lived. Suddenly, I remembered having seen pictures of this particular President and his family in front of this house. Wow. With all the weird people I meet and strange adventures I experience, there is something pretty cool about this job sometimes.