I thanked my driver for finding me. He told me that he normally drives from 5 am to 8 am, really only to kill time, because he was going stir crazy not doing anything – and he was driving his wife nuts too.

My driver said that for a while he was getting into his hobby and it was keeping him really busy during the pandemic. I could tell he paused as if he was reluctant to tell me about it. I let a few moments pass, then asked him. He said he built custom guns. I kept my poker face and said oh, okay. My driver said that it was very steady work, and that everyone was eager to get multiple units. Arizona really is the wild, wild west. [Now that I’m thinking about it, I really should have asked him how they got them registered, or how he did background checks.] I had flashbacks to the guy who made all of the bullets for the shooting in Las Vegas where so many were killed or injured. This is important, though. My driver didn’t make any inflammatory remarks, and neither did I. We acknowledged opposite worlds. Sometimes it’s really difficult for me to do but I’m getting better.

My driver explained he was ex-military and that it was hard for him to give up his early morning schedule and regimen, which is why he drove early in the morning. I asked if firearms were his specialty, and he laughed and said no – aviation! I said the closest I got was being a crew member for hot air balloons in Albuquerque. I also told him that I used to know a fighter pilot from Germany and I talked him into going up in a hot air balloon here in Phoenix. My driver laughed and said there was no way he was going up in a basket. Give him a fighter jet all day, any day.

I asked him where he was from or where he lived. He said he had lived in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia; Colorado; Oregon; and of course Arizona. He asked where I was from, and I told him I grew up in Minnesota. He perked up and asked where, and I explained the two locations where I lived. It turns out that he has his “home” VA hospital set as the one where my parents and a few of my mom’s family live, and where my mom’s youngest brother goes for care. My driver said he really likes going to that particular hospital because everyone is so danged nice. I explained that my parents live in a town of 300 and my uncle lives nearby in a town of about 700, and my driver said the nurses told him that most everyone is friendly because of towns that size. Everyone just wants to get along (and if you don’t, someone is going to start rumors about you). In fact, my driver told me he was just at the VA in this town in Minnesota last week. I’m telling you, we are all connected.

I Love The Smell Of Jet Fuel In The Morning coffee mug

US Air Force Apple watch band

Vintage Hot Air Balloon wrapping paper