After delivering a car on the outer outskirts of Salt Lake City, I was relieved when my boss Riff told me I was being picked up and taken to my next car. He said that a big rig truckers wife named Barb was coming to get me and she'd take me 50 miles so I could get a car headed to Florida.
It wasn't long at all before the rain started coming down hard, and an El Camino pulled up and I saw Barb inside. She was a very plump senior citizen with flaming red hair. She rolled the window down a crack as I tried to open the door and found it to be locked. "Bill?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am. Can you unlock the door please?"
"Oh sure, I just wanted to make sure you're Bill. You are Bill, aren't you?"
"Yes I am."
She unlocked the door. "Well climb on in, what are you waiting for, its raining? I want you to know that I'm glad to do this for you, so glad, so extremely glad, it's nothing but a pleasure for me." I couldn't believe she said all that in one breath. She hit the gas hard, and I fastened my seatbelt quickly. "I see you're a seatbelt man, I admire a seatbelt man, I admire any man, well any man who drives cars all over the USA, and if he wears a seatbelt I admire him even more, if you know what I mean." So I could see that rapid fire talk without taking a breath was her natural speech pattern.
"Do you have the address where you're taking me?"
"Of course I know where we're going, well not really, but I do have the address, its on the whole 'nuther side of Salt Lake, a place I don't go too often, in fact never in my life, but we are going there today, now aren't we?" Barb stopped talking abruptly, just as her eyes shut and her head plopped forward, chin on chest. Loud snoring sounds came from her, and I was scared to death. All I could think to do was poke her in the ribs.
Barb came quickly to life and screamed bloody murder, slamming on the brakes of the car with great force. I was thrown forward, thank goodness for the seatbelt! "Are you OK, I'm OK, but the question is are you OK, because if anything happened to you I'd die, I swear I'd just die, it would kill me if I scared a passenger, especially one I admire like you." She stomped on the gas again.
"What happened, Barb?"
"I don't know, I really don't know, I mean my husband Charlie says sometimes I just nod off, but I hope that's not what happened, but I bet it could be, cuz I'm not a betting woman, used to be but no more, and so Charlie,
that's my husband Charlie, he likes to bet every chance he gets,
morning, noon and--" Her head slumped, eyes closed, snoring soundly. I
gave her a good poke again, and she screamed at the top of her lungs while slamming on the brakes. The car behind us nearly rear ended Barb. "Oh no, did I nod off again, please tell me I didn't, I would be so humiliated, oh please tell me I didn't fall asleep." She put her foot down on the gas and proceeded.
"Maybe you need some more rest, Barb."
Barb howled with laughter. "That's rich, oh that's a good one, more rest, like I could get more rest in my house, with my husband Charlie's schedule and my grandkids running in and out, and all the baking I do, I spend half the life in the kitchen, and I'm a darn good cook if you don't mind me saying so, but why would you, I'm only stating the hard cold facts." She paused uncharacteristically and looked me over. "So are you a married man? I don't see a ring on your--" She passed out again, just as we were getting onto the interstate highway. I felt a genuine sense of panic.
"Barb! Barb! Please wake up!" She began to swerve across lanes in front of fast moving cars, so I had no choice but to grab the wheel and try to steer us through it. I poked her again, and she came to life screaming and fighting me for the wheel. Anticipating her slamming on the brakes, I had steered us onto the shoulder lane.
"Why are your hands on the wheel honey, that's not safe. There's only one driver in this car."
"I'm sorry Barb, but you were sleeping and swerving."
"Oh no, not again. This is beginning to get embarrassing, if you know what I mean, but I'm sure you do. You were just telling me about your wife." Barb accelerated and steered back onto the highway.
"No, I'm not married."
"You're not married? Oh listen to me, prying into your business and going places I have no business going, just being a nosey Rosey, but that's just me, I can't help it. Do you have a girlfriend, or maybe are you a Gay, which is fine with me, though it's none of my business if you don't want to tell me, because the Bible says its a sin to lay with another man, but I don't judge. What do you--"
Off she went again, just like flipping a light switch. Instead of getting upset, this time I chose to firmly take the wheel and try to navigate through traffic while Barb slept. I was doing pretty good, but soon realized she controlled the pedals even as she snoozed, so I got off at an exit ramp and poked her. She sat upright and screamed loudly, hitting the brakes.
"Why are your hands on the wheel again?" she demanded.
"We are here" I announced.
"What? How can we be? This doesn't match the address I have."
"My boss Riff called and changed the address. This is it, that Auto Parts shop right across the road."
"Well isn't that just like Riff, that old rascal. He's a scallywag, don't you agree?"
"He's all that and so much more," I said, climbing out of the car. "Thanks Barb."
I went to the Auto Parts shop and paid the driver to take me the rest of the way once he had a delivery headed in that direction. For the rest of the day, I kept wondering about Barb and how she lives through a single day driving in traffic.