This past Friday, I was driving a car to Akron, Ohio. After many years of driving all around the United States, I had never driven in snow. Somehow I had been blessed to avoid it, and I was thankful for that. I was born and raised in the South, and while I know how to drive in hard rainfall, snow and sleet and ice present all kinds of challenges I felt unprepared for.
When it snows it pours, and this was one heck of a snow storm. At times I was having trouble seeing. My boss Riff called at a most inconvenient time. "How ya doing up there in the snow storm, cream puff?"
"I really need to focus on the road right now, Riff."
"You really are one pathetic pussy willow. Do you have any idea how much you disgust me?"
"What do you need?"
"Did you find a way out of there?"
"Not yet. These people live 20 miles outside of Akron, and there is no bus, no taxi, no nothing."
"So how are you getting out of there?"
"The man who I am delivering to said that as an absolute final resort he would give me a ride."
"Take it, you fool! Accept the ride!"
"But Riff, you told me just last week to never accept a ride from a customer."
"That was last week. Take the ride."
The Ford Explorer I was driving began to slip and slide. "Riff I have to go now." I dropped my cell phone and put both hands on the wheel. I only had ten more miles to go, but it took me 45 minutes to get there due to poor driving conditions.
As I drove up to the address, an elderly man came running out into the driveway waving his arms and whistling at me. I rolled down the window, and snowflakes blew in on me with a fervor. "This is the Jonesboro place, you found us. Park it in the garage." I did as the old man told me, and when I was inside he closed the garage door behind me. I got out of the car with my paperwork.
"Are you Charles?" I asked.
"Nope, I'm his father, Wally. Charles had to go to Chicago for the weekend, but he said that I could accept delivery of the car. Is that correct?"
"Yes sir." My heart sank, because I now guessed the offer of a ride to the Canton airport was off the table.
"Now my son told me that you might possibly need a ride."
My hopes were rekindled. "That would be great, if you'd be willing."
"Oh heck yeah, sure, I mean why not? But you'll have to pay me for the ride."
"Gladly. How much were you thinking of?"
"I'd say $30 ought to do it. My wife and I are on a fixed income, but if you pay us then we can go out to the Chinese buffet tonight. We'll eat like kings!"
We took care of the paperwork, then I moved my bags over to his 70's era Chevy van. His wife Pam stepped out into the garage. "Who is this, Wally?" she asked.
"This is the fella who delivered Charley's new company car. And we're gonna give him a ride to the airport."
"All the way to Cleveland?" she wondered with worry in her voice.
"No honey, the Canton airport."
"Oh." She smiled. "That's much closer. That's better." She seemed sweet but sounded ditzy.
Wally turned to me. "What's your name again?"
"Pam, this is Bill Thomas. Bill, meet my wife Pam."
I nodded. "My pleasure."
She squinted at me suspiciously, then waddled toward the driver's side of the van. She was an extremely plump woman, and did not seem overly fond of me. Wally got the shotgun seat, and I climbed into the back.
As we rode along, I noticed that the weather was getting worse. I began to fret about how my plane was going to take off in this kind of heavy snow. Not only have I not driven in such harsh conditions, I have also never had to fly in it. Wally turned and smiled at me. "Bill, would you mind if I smoke?"
Pam shook her head. "Oh no, you're not going to smoke that wacky weed in the car, are you?"
Wally looked startled and tried to hush her. "Shh. Pam honey, you don't know what you're saying."
"Sure I do, you like your weed."
"No, no, you're confused." He turned to me again. "Pam is confused. She fell and hit her head last week." He pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
Pam looked genuinely confused. "I did? I don't remember that."
Wally smiled. "Of course you don't, the Doctor said you would have trouble with your memory."
"He did?" she asked. "Well, all I know is that you do love to smoke your pot. Every single doggone day."
He turned to me and shrugged sheepishly. "Only once in a while. I've got the glaucoma pretty bad."
Pam seemed surprised. "You do?"
Wally seemed to want to change the subject. "So I bet you have a lot of adventures on the road."
I grinned. "Yes, I call them my driving fool adventures. I write a blog."
"Really?" he asked.
"Oh yes. In fact, I--"
I was interrupted by a car behind us honking non-stop. Long bursts, short bursts, it sounded like the driver was mad as a hornet and wanted us to know it. "Wally, why are they honking at me so?"
"Probably because you are hogging the road."
She looked hatefully at her husband, as if she was about to burst into tears. "How could you call me a hog, you know I have been on a diet. And I'm really trying."
"No Pam, I mean a road hog."
"Oh, so I'm only a hog when I'm on the road. What about when we're at the house, am I just a piglet then? Is that what you think?"
"Sweetie, its a four lane road. You are driving right down the middle lines, taking up two lanes. The man behind you wants to get by."
"How do you know its a man? It's snowing too hard to see who is driving that car."
Wally turned to me. "Sorry about Pam, she got hit in the head with an iron skillet a few days ago. It just fell off the shelf and BANG!"
"I did?" she asked. "I sure get hit on the head a lot. Why can't I remember it?"
"Asked and answered." He looked at me and winked. "It has been affecting her judgement."
Pam got over to the far left lane, and the car behind us when zooming by on our right. Even through the heavy snowfall, I could see it was a man driving, and it was a middle finger he saluted us with. "I don't like this weather. No sir, not one little bit. This looks like a whiteout to me. I don't like our chances of getting back home." Right about then is when Pam turned onto a One Way road going the wrong way into the airport. "And this is all because of you, Bill Thomas. We could die in a horrible crash on the way home, and it would be all your fault. Can you live with that on your conscience?"
"Pam, he's paying us $30 for giving him a ride. We are going to the Chinese buffet for dinner tonight."
Pam lit up like a Christmas tree. "Really? Well that makes everything OK." Several cars came head on towards us, slipping and sliding sideways to get out of our path. "You are a good man in my book. I love the Chinese buffet. I am going to stuff myself like a pig. Not a hog, Wally, I said a pig."
He nodded. "Understood."
I got the $30 out of my wallet and handed it to Wally. Pam pulled up to the Departure area from the wrong direction. A police officer came hurrying over to the car. I got out and got my bags out with me. "Thanks for the ride, folks."
The police officer ran up and knocked on Pam's window. She stepped on the gas and took off in the wrong direction. I stepped into the airport ready to see how well a plane could fly in a blizzard.