I was walking up to the door of Mrs. Sherman's house in Maryland to pick up her car for the annual trip south. It would be my first car delivery of 2014, and while I normally got her car each year just before Christmas, this year she had delayed until after the holidays. My cell phone rang just as I got to the front porch. "This is Bill."
"Oh Bill, good, I'm so glad I reached you," said sweet, elderly Mrs. Sherman. She was a kind woman, but her age seemed to affect her mind. "Aren't you coming today to pick up my car today to drive to Florida?"
"Yes I am. And I just arrived." I rang her doorbell.
"Bill, I'm going to have to put you on hold. Someone is at my front door." I could hear her setting the phone down, and a few minutes later she opened the front door. "Oh, hello Bill. I was just thinking of calling you and finding out where you were."
"Yes, well I can see that. Come on inside, it's awfully cold out there."
"Yes, it sure is." And it was, the temperature hovering just above zero, and the wind chill way below zero. There was snow on the ground, and I knew driving conditions would not be optimal.
She led me into her kitchen, and she paused to pick up the phone receiver that laid on the table. She put the phone up to her ear and said, "Listen, I'm sorry, but I have company right now. I will have to call you back later. Bye bye." She hung up the phone and turned to smile at me. "I'm 96 years old now, but I still have friends and I'm still very popular."
"I'm not surprised."
"Well, you shouldn't be. Now, you have a long trip ahead and the weather is horrible. So I need to give you some trips on driving my car. You need to watch out for the hail that may come down. It looks like rain, only its small frozen balls, sometimes the size of a marble, sometimes the size of a golf ball. We call it hail, but not hell like in the home of Satan the devil. Hail like in all hail the king. Understand?"
I nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
"Good. I also want you to watch out for the black and blue ice. You'll find patches of ice on the road and you can't see them, but when you hit them you'll know it. We call it black and blue ice because if you hit it, you can spin the car and crash, and then you'll be all black and blue. If you survive."
"Thank you for the tip."
"No tips, Bill. You know by now how I feel about gratuities, I don't want to insult your integrity by offering you one."
"No, I get it, that's fine."
"Can I bake you a batch of brownies? Do you have time for a visit?"
"I appreciate it Mrs. Sherman, but I think I'd better get on the road if I want to meet you in Bonita Springs in two days."
"Yes, yes, well you're right of course."
We talked a bit more and then I got her to sign the paperwork and I left. The drive was already tricky, with other cars on the road zigging and zagging erratically, as if they didn't notice the bad weather conditions. My cell phone rang, and I saw it was Karen, the love of my life. "This is Bill."
"And this is Karen. Happy New year."
"Same to you but more of it. How are you?"
"More to the point, how are you? We sleep together then you just forget about me?"
"I haven't forgotten you at all. I never could, don't be silly. I've just been busy."
"Couldn't you have called?"
"I've called you three times and left messages. And I dropped by your Cafe in Richmond, but you weren't there. Didn't anyone tell you?"
"No. I'm about to fire my staff, they are all sub par."
I could see that my boss Riff was trying to call through. "Karen, I have to go."
"We need to talk. Soon. Face to face."
"We will I promise. Call you later." I hung up and then picked up Riff's call. "Yes, Riff?"
"Where in God's name are you?"
"Just picked up Mrs. Sherman's car, headed for Florida."
"OK, well when you get it delivered, I need you to go to Orlando and pick up a car that's headed
to Las Vegas. Think you can handle such a complex assignment, Tinkerbell?"
"Yep, got it covered." I had another call coming in. "Riff, I have to go." I hung up on him and picked up the new call. "This is Bill."
"Hello Bill, this is Mrs. Sherman. Now are you coming to pick up my car today to take to Florida? I was expecting you to be here already."
Just then I hit a slick spot on the highway and began to slide one way then the other. Black and blue ice alert!