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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I was having a really bad week.  Really, truly awful.

Two of the customers I had delivered to cussed me out for no good reason, and although that happens from time to time, this time it got to me.  Plus both of them called in formally complained about me.  Which was out of left field and completely undeserving.  Then my boss Riff chewed me out and told me that he didn't have enough to pay me for the back end of my last three car deliveries.  And my teeth hurt terribly, I think I may have an infection, but who has money for a dentist?  No dental insurance on my job.  It just seemed like the sky was falling on my head, except there were concrete blocks instead of clouds in the sky.

It was noon, and I was getting ready to deliver a car to Odessa, Texas.  The landscape was so sparse that it added to my feeling of frustration and depression.  I really needed something good to happen real soon to give me a positive shot in the arm.

I had to stop and get gas.  Stopped at a little Mom & Pop convenience store called the Gulp & Chew.  Tried to use my credit card at the pump, but no luck.  So I went inside and stood in a very long line just so I could prepay for gas.  We have to deliver all cars with a half tank of gas in them.

The man in line just ahead of me set down a 12 pack of beer.  The skinny cashier behind the counter sneered at him and yelled,  "Hey dude, its Sunday, you can't buy beer now.  Ha Ha!"  I watched how much the cashier enjoyed this.  He was covered in tatoos, had unkempt facial hair, and had more piercings on his face than I've ever seen before.

I stepped up to him and put down a $20 bill.  "Twenty on pump 3," I said.

"What pump?" he asked.

"Pump 3."

"How much?" he asked.

I held up the $20 bill.  "Twenty."

"Which pump," he asked.  Now I knew he was messing with me, and I just was not in the mood.

"Twenty dollars prepay on pump 3, please."

I walked out the door as he yelled at me.  "Yeah, but on which pump?"

Carefully I pumped the gas, aiming to be judicious and get just enough in the tank to register one half a tank.  When I had reached that goal, I stopped the pump.  It showed $14.33.  So I had to go back inside to get change and a receipt.

Inside, there was another long line to wait in.  I noticed that the cashier was being very rude to every customer.  When it was my turn, I told him I needed change and receipt for pump 3.  He looked at the register, then a machine next to it.  "Says here you pumped the entire $20.  Next!" he called for the next customer in line.

"No, no, there's a mistake.  I gave you $20, but I pumped only $14.33."

"So what?"

"So I need change and receipt."

"Sorry, my info says you pumped the whole $20.  Next!"

"No, I'm not done yet.  I need my change and a receipt."

"Now you're beginning to really piss me off," he said to me.

"Am I?  Well then, why don't you just do your job and I'll be out of your hair."

"Don't tell me my job.  We're done here.  Next!"

"No!  No next!  You aren't through serving me.  I need change from my $20."

"You spent the $20."

"No sir, I did not."

He leaned towards me, challenging.  "Prove it."

"Not a problem, just come on out to the pump with me and you will see that it says $14.33."

"I don't have the time or the interest to come outside."

"Then give me my money."

"You want your stupid damn money.  Here!"  He slapped a five and a one dollar bill on the counter.  I picked them up.  "Now get the hell out of here, ya dumb faggot!"

"As soon as you give me a receipt."

This made the gent behind the counter puff up to try to look tough.  "Don't you make me come over the counter.  I will jump over this counter and kick your ass."

I guess that was the last straw.  All I know is that something went "pop" in my head, and I used my hands to propel me up on the counter so that I was leaning in his face.  I spoke softly but firmly to him.  "Please come over the counter, I'm begging you.  And then be prepared to spend two weeks in intensive care at the local hospital, because I will mess you up beyond all recognition."

It was obvious that he was not prepared for this.  He felt that he was the king in his little fiefdom, and I was the one person who was standing up to his nonsense.  "Geez bro, you don't have to get all bent out of shape.  'Course I'll give you a receipt, no problem."  And he did.

I walked out to the pump and found an elderly man who I had seen inside standing there.  He looked at me and said,  "I saw the whole thing, and he should not have treated you like that.  I just took a picture of the pump price displayed with my camera phone.  I know the manager, and intend to show it to her when she comes in and tell her what happened.  She will deal with him."

"Thanks sir, I really appreciate it."

"Stay safe.  And stay cool.  Don't let an asshole ruin your day."

He was right.  I left feeling better, and said a prayer for safe travels and peace of mind.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Last month on Father's day, I was once again focused on the father who I never met.  My mom always told me that he left us and never loved me.  Then he died soon afterward.  There has always been an empty space in my heart, and as I drive cars around America I often ponder what it would have been like to meet him.

My cell phone rang, and when I answered the familiar voice of sweet old Mrs. Sherman said  "Hello, Bill."

"Hi, Mrs. Sherman. How are you?"

"Oh my, why thank you for asking.  I am about to make a big batch of cookies.  Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter.  I just thought you'd like to know."  And with that, she hung up.  She is 94 years old and gets a little more eccentric with each passing day.

I was on my way to deliver a minivan to Albany, NY.  Trying to decide where to stop for the night as I drove through the garden state of New Jersey.  My cell phone rang again, and I saw my old friend Ed's name pop up.  "Ed, how you doing?" I said into the phone.  Hearing from him was just what I needed.

"Hey Bill, just wanted to let you know that Diane and the kids have gone to Oregon for two weeks.  So if you pass by anywhere near here, the door is open and you can stay."

"Ed, I'm in New Jersey."

"Right now?"


"I live in New Jersey, Bill."

"Yes, I'm aware."

"Where are you right now, right this minute?"

"A little over an hour from your house."

"Get a move on, the party won't start till you arrive!"

I hung up and drove with a sense of purpose.  I was so happy to shake off the gloom of missing my Dad and bemoaning another sad Father's day.  I arrived at Ed's one hour and fifteen minutes later, and he was waiting for me at the door.  He gave me a handshake-hug, and it felt really good to be back.  About a year ago, Ed had told me I couldn't come stay overnight for a while, due to his wife Diane's issues with me.

"Get your ass in here, pal," said Ed enthusiastically.

"Great to be here," I said.

"Great to have you."

"Great to be had."

Ed handed me a large glass of Coke.  My first sip told me it was heavily laced with Jack Daniels.  Then he offered me a large chocolate chip cookie.  I thought of Mrs. Sherman and chuckled to myself.  "I baked these myself," Ed said with pride.

I ate the huge cookie hungrily, and sipped some of my cocktail to wash it down.  I was halfway through eating it, enjoying every last morsel.  "This is delicious."

Ed pointed at me.  "Now drink your drink, and then let's go to the Deja Vu club."

"Deja Vu?  For gentlemen only?"

He shrugged.  "I don't see why women wouldn't be welcome.  But all I know is that I need a lap dance."

Well, maybe so did I.  I do not frequent gentleman clubs, but on rare occassions I have gone to them and enjoyed cutting loose a bit.  After all, I am a single bachelor, I have basic needs.  The way I had been feeling all day today, I needed a distraction.  "I'm driving," I told Ed.

"OK, but we are taking my new SUV.  And shotgun!"

"Sounds about right."

30 minutes later, we were at the Deja Vu club.  We walked in, and I must say that the women there were a cut above what I've seen before.  I was also noticing that Ed was getting beyond tipsy.  I knew that I had to stop drinking so that I could be the designated semi-sober friend.

We sat at the stage and tipped girls as they danced for us.  Then Ed paid several girls to take me into the back for private dances.  Oddly enough, my mind kept drifting to Karen, the love of my life.  But truth be told, she likes women so if she were here she'd be getting her own private dances.

After an hour or so, Ed started telling me that he thought he was in love with one of the dancers.  "I don't know Bill, I sorta kinda feel like we made a connection."  Experience has taught me that this is the time to pack up and leave.  When Ed talks about a connection, he's had enough.

I was driving us home, feeling a bit of the effects of my cocktails.  Even though I had been drinking only water and coffee for the past hour.  "Happy Father's day," I said to Ed.

"Same to you, bud.  Oh but wait, you're not a dad.  I'm sorry."

"Don't be.  My only regret on Father's day is that I never got to meet my own dad."

Ed looked down and shook his head sadly.  "That sucks.  That really sucks.  And you don't know anything about him."

"I've been researching and learning some stuff.  Like I think I just found out where he was buried.  It's in a cemetery right here in New Jersey."

Ed sat upright and alert.  "Turn here!" he demanded.


"Turn right here, now!"

I did as he said, then followed his further directions.  "Ed, where are we going?"

"Just shut up and trust me.  I know what I'm doing."

I had my doubts about that, as he had been drinking a lot.  But he seemed determined, and curiousity made me feel that I had to know our new destination.  His last instruction put us onto a small road, and we rolled up to the gates of a cemetery.

"This is it!"

"This is what?" I asked.

"This is where your father is buried.  I just know it, I am sure about this."

"Why?  How could yo know?"

"Don't doubt me, I just know.  You said a cemetery in New Jersey, this is it."

"But how--?"

Ed interrupted me by shushing me.  "We gotta get in there and find his tombstone.  You know his name?"

"Of course I do."

"Good, good.  Now we just gotta get in there."

"Ed, they are closed.  Maybe we ought to come back tomorrow."

"Tomorrow is too late!  We gotta go now!"  He jumped out of the car and ran to the gate.  I got out on my side of the car.

"What are you doing?" I asked with a laugh.

"I'm going over the top.  Correction, WE'RE going over the top."

"I think that's a very bad idea."

"Don't you want to say hello to your father?"

"More than anything, but--"

"This is your chance, Bill.  I want to introduce you to your father.  Cuz that's what a true friend would do."

Ed tried in vain to scale the gate.  It was a pretty pitiful attempt, but I guess he deserves an A for effort.  I finally walked over to him as he fell for the tenth time.  I was trying to figure out how to dissuade him from this plan so we could go back to his house.  Just then, sirens blared in the distance, and Ed's eyes got very wide.

"Bill, its the cops!  The jig is up, they're after us.  We have to get out of here, now!"  He ran to the driver's side of the car and jumped in.  "Quick, get us out of here.  Drive, drive!"

I looked in at him.  "You'll have to get in the passenger seat if you want me to drive."

"Huh?  Oh right, OK."  He crawled over to his side of the car and I got in and drove us slowly home.  By the time we got back to the house, Ed was out like a light.  I carried him inside and dumped him onto his bed.  Then I went to the guest room and fell fast asleep.

When I woke up in the morning, Ed was still sound asleep.  I left him a note and had to get on the road to make my delivery in Albany later that afternoon.  It had definitely been a Father's day to remember for a driving fool.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I could hardly believe it was my birthday again, that another year had passed so quickly.  Last year my Cousin Chris had popped up and surprised me.  He tracked me down to Charleston, SC and spent the day with me.  It was pretty fantastic, and very memorable.  I said to him  "Same time next year?" and could tell he was taken aback.  I told him I was kidding, but he said we'd have to wait and see.

Much to my delight, I got a call a few months back from his only daughter, Celia, asking me to please be in her wedding.  She wanted me to be an Usher, and I was honored.  And it just so happened that the blessed event was set to take place on my birthday.  Double bonus!

Chris contacted me and offered to fly me up to Chicago, where he and his wife live.  He said he'd get me a room at the Palmer House and buy me a new black suit for the wedding.  I was more than overwhelmed by his generosity, and any attempt to argue with him about doing too much was completely futile.

I was feeling a bit melancholy after the rehearsal dinner, because they had shown a video-slide show retrospective of Celia and her husband to be.  Their whole lives flashed before our eyes.  But it also showed me Chris' life with his own little family, and I was saddened to realize just how much time we've missed over the years.  When we were kids, Chris and I were inseparable, we loved to hang out and get into mischief.  And since I was a year older, I was the leader and the one who often got us into trouble, always with our mothers.

Watching Chris' family life also made me think about the choices I've made.  I have no wife, no kids, no immediate family.  I don't have a good career and a nice house like he does.  I drive around the USA, with no real home base.  It gave me a case of the blues.

But after a night in the suite Chris had booked and paid for, I woke up refreshed and took a swim in the indoor pool.  I got myself into the mindset that this day was all about Celia, and any emotional baggage I was carrying around needed to be jettisoned, pronto.

I went to the church early, and when it was time I did my job.  The other Ushers were teenagers, sort of lackadaisical and distracted, so I had to pull them together and get them to focus.  I've been in weddings before, and also used to be a movie theater doorman years ago.  So I know the routine pretty good.  In this case, no woman enters the church without being taken gently by the arm and led to a seat.

Once everyone was seated, including the other Ushers. I stepped into the church "lobby" area where Celia waited for Chris to walk her down the aisle.  But Chris was absent, and it was time to go.  Suddenly Celia began to cry, and I told her,  "Chris will be here any second, please don't cry."

"I'm scared Uncle Bill.  I don't know why, but I'm scared."

I shrugged.  "I can tell you something about the guy you're going to marry."

She stopped crying and stared at me.  "Tommy?  What is it?  Did he say something to you?"

"Nope.  But I can tell you that Tommy is the luckiest guy on the face of the earth today, because he gets to marry you!"

Celia laughed and wiped the tears from her cheeks, then leaned in to give me a hug.  "That was the most perfect thing you could've said.  I love you, Uncle Bill."

Chris came hurrying in to join us.  I tapped on my watch.  "Son, son, son, you can't keep your daughter waiting, not today."

"I had to go to the bathroom."

"You couldn't have done that earlier?  Plan ahead, Chris."

He punched me playfully on the arm, then took his daughter's arm.  "You ready, honey?"

"Yes, Daddy."  I opened the doors and they walked down the aisle.

The wedding was beautiful.  Afterwards, everyone went to the Palmer House for a grand reception. Chris really pulled out all the stops, it was truly glorious.  A ballroom full of tables was very crowded, and I'd never seen so many people at one wedding before.  I noticed that there was an adjoining room, and I stepped inside to find a man setting up a sumptuous buffett.  He had a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

"Sox or Cubs?" he said in a raspy voice.

"Beg pardon?" I asked.

"Simple question, Sox or Cubs?"

"I don't get the reference."

"What are you, a freakin' retard?  Sorry, I mean a mentally challenged retard."

I shook my head.  "I still don't know--"

He cut in.  "Do you pull for the White Sox or the Cubs?  Which baseball team do you like?  Jeez, its not a tough question."

"Oh, well I'm not from Chicago."

He stared at me as if I was a complete idiot.  "What does that have to do with anything?"

"I... well I...  I guess I'm not sure."

"Dammit, just answer the question.  Which team you root for?"


He slammed down the serving spoons he was holding.  "I hope you're yanking my chain, cuz if you're serious I'm gonna be very pissed off."

"I usually cheer for the hometown team."

"What's your hometown?"


"Ain't no team in freakin' Birmingham."

I nodded.  "And there you have it."

"Have what?  You're talking in riddles."

"I like the team that plays in Wrigley Field."

He flicked the ashes from his cigarette onto the floor.  "Now we're getting somewhere.  I happen to be a Sox fan, but I won't hold it against you for being a Cubbie."


"So I'm gonna give you some advice.  When they ring the dinner bell, you better get in here fast, cuz these fat motherfuckers are gonna be like pigs in a trough.  Get my meaning?  Whoa!"  The last thing he said was in reference to a beautiful waitress who had just passed in front of us.  "You know what I'd like to do to her?  This!"  He began to hump the table with the food on it.  "And some of this!"  He made crude gestures with his hand, then flicked his ashes.  Half of them fell onto the food table.

"Hey!" yelled a large, round, hairy man as he came marching out from the kitchen.  "What in hell you think you're doing?"

"Nothing, not a thing," said the man I'd been talking to.

"You're smoking around my food.  You're humping my food table and making rude gestures towards a lady."

"Hey, she's just a waitress," he protested.

"She's your cousin!  And you, you're fired!  Get out!"  The big man walked towards the kitchen.  The younger man ran after him.  "Oh come on, Pop, I didn't mean nothin'."

Celia peeked into the room.  "Uncle Bill?"

"Hey girl, how are you?  I was just trying to be first in the food line.  Kidding, kidding."

She walked over and took my hand and gave it a squeeze.  "You've been around all my life, and I love you and appreciate you.  I just wanted to tell you how much it meant to me that you came here for my wedding."

"I'm honored that you asked me."

Chris poked his head into the room.  "What are you two doing?  Food isn't being served yet Bill, you trying to be first in line?"

"Always."  We all laughed.  "You know Celia, your Dad is a big success in the business world, but when we were kids I was the leader."

Chris snorted.  "Yes, the one who was always leading us into trouble.  Like the time you had me sit on the handle bars of your bike and went down a big hill?  I went flying off, face first into a tree."

"Well, accidents happen."

"You were supposed to be the adult.  You were supposed to take care of us."

"Stop right there.  As you know, I have never been the adult."  Chris and I chuckled.

"Really glad you could be here," he said to me.

"Remember last year on my birthday, I said  'Same time next year.'?"

"Yep, and I said 'We'll see'.  And here we are."

Celia looked shocked.  "Wait, today is your birthday, Uncle Bill?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"That makes it extra special that you came."  My heart was warmed by this sweet girl.

After the past two years, I don't know how I can possibly top it on my birthday next year.