I arrived in Spokane, Washington yesterday to pick up a car going to Alaska. I was very excited, because I had never before been there. My company rarely ever has cars to deliver to Alaska. My old high school buddy Steve and I have talked about going there together for years, the ultimate road trip. And yet it has never happened.
I have been to all of the "lower 48" states many times in my travels. More often than you might think, people ask me if I have ever taken a car to Alaska or Hawaii. It seems to me that the only way to drive a car to Hawaii is if it can skip across the ocean the way Herbie the Love Bug skipped across a lake like a rock bouncing and skimming on the surface of the water.
My cell phone rang as I got off the city bus at the pickup location. "This is Bill."
"Hello cupcake." It was my not-so-charming boss Riff. "Hello my little marshmallow."
"Hey Riff, I just arrived at the location in Spokane."
"Well good, my little precious." His voice was thick with sarcasm. "Now its gonna be very cold in Alaska. Did you pack your long johns and your footie pajamas?"
"I'll be fine, Riff."
His tone suddenly changed. "Do I detect an attitude?"
"No Riff, no attitude."
"I think you've been getting a little too big for your britches lately, and I--" Riff kept on talking but I stopped listening, because a car came flying into the parking lot I was standing in and starting doing donuts at a dangerous speed. I hung up the phone and hurried towards a brick wall where I could stand safely. Unless of course this wild driver decided to smash into said wall.
The car came right towards me and stopped just short of slamming into me and the wall. Then Andy jumped out, and I felt both relief and regret to see him. He's another driver for my company, and every interaction I'd had with him has been somewhere between bad and worse. I once saved his life by pulling him out of a car after he flipped it.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Billy Elliot," he said to me.
"Bill Thomas," I politely corrected him.
"What did you just call me?" he said with menace in his voice.
"Not you, me, I'm Bill Thomas."
"I know that, you think I don't know that? Good golly, you are a piece of work."
"What are you doing here, Andy?"
"I might ask you the same question."
"Riff sent me to pick up a car going to Alaska."
"Oh, you mean this car, the one I'm driving right now?"
I looked at the Chevy Equinox he was driving and realized that it was the same car I was there to get. "I'm a little confused."
"Oh, poor baby, he's confused and doesn't know what to do. Does baby want his bottle?"
"What? No! I want to know why you are in my car."
"Wrong, it's my car. Riff assigned it to me, and I'm headed out to Alaska. So I guess we can agree that you are screwed royally."
I shook my head. "This doesn't make any sense."
"Let me help you figure it out. Riff told you to come get the car so he could teach you a lesson about respect and humility. And he sent me to get the car so it could be driven up to Juno by a professional driver. Also, it gives me the opportunity to rub your nose in your failure."
"Failure to launch!"
"I paid to get myself here to Spokane. And now I'm going to have to pay to get out of here."
"Boo hoo. I am so glad that this is causing you a lot of trouble, I finally get my revenge."
"Revenge? Revenge for what, Andy?"
"For pulling me out of that car when I flipped it."
"It was the right thing to do, but I'm not sure why you want revenge."
"Because if it was my time to die, then I should have kicked the bucket right then and there. You deprived me of the opportunity."
"You got it. I could be partying my ass off in Hell right now if it weren't for you. Bye bye, loser." Andy burned rubber as he sped out of the parking lot onto the street, nearly hitting two cars and causing them to swerve out of his way.
I was going to call Riff, but thought that would only upset me more. So I called my friend Steve in Kentucky. He answered on the first ring. "Hey Bill, so good to hear from you."
"Uh-oh, what's the matter? I know that tone in your voice, and its not a happy one."
"You still want to take that road trip to Alaska?"
"Yep, and as soon as I retire we are going to do it. I'm just glad it will be the first time for both of us, I've been afraid that you'd get a car to deliver there."
I smiled. "Nope, not much chance of that."