By Bill Derby
I remember it so well it seemed just like yesterday when I received a phone call on our land line. It was from racing legend and fellow Tennessean, Darrell Waltrip. Maybe he’ll call me again this weekend during the race. It was a Tuesday night when the phone rang.
“Hello, this is Darrell Waltrip!”
“Hey Darrell buddy. How you doing? It’s me, Bill Derby.”
Darrell asked, “Do you know how important it is to drive carefully and stay the course?”
“Sure, I do Darrell,” I drive very carefully. “Do you remember me? I saw you once up in Bristol. I was sitting in the fourth row, first turn wearing a red T-shirt that read, ‘Eat My Dirt, Dude.”
Darrell continued talking, ignoring my response, “We need to stay the course and keep everything, like my car dealerships, running smooth. Won’t you support So-and-So in the Senate race this year?”
“Darrell, buddy, can’t you hear me? I’m hearing you but something must be wrong with my phone cause you act like you can’t hear me. Darrell, yo’ Darrell,” I responded.
“Hey Judy, it’s Darrell Waltrip on the phone. He’s talkin’ to me but he can’t hear me. Did you drop the phone, cause it’s not working right?” I asked.
“Yo, Darrell. Dang nabit, Darrell, I’m a fan. Can’t you hear me?”
“And in conclusion, your vote would be much appreciated. Thank you for listening, and good bye,” Darrell concluded.
“Wait, wait, Darrell, don’t hang up. I want a picture,” I yelled.
Darrell was gone. I had missed talking to one of my favorite race drivers. I couldn’t get a word in edgeways.
The phone rang again a few minutes later.
“Hey Judy, Darrell’s calling me back. I’ll get it!”
I rushed to the phone. There was dead silence.
“Yo Darrell…that you again?” I asked.
“Hey, Darrell. You coming to Bristol for the race?” I asked.
There was silence at the other end then a click.
Then last night the phone rang again.
“Hello, this is Darrell Waltrip.”
“Darrell, ole buddy, you called me again. What’s up dude? How’s TV life treating you? Darrell…yo Darrell,” I answered.
“Do you know how important it is to drive carefully and stay the course?” Darrell said again.
“Yea, you asked me that last time. Judy, he can’t hear me again. This phone ain’t worth a plug nickel. It’s no use. I can’t talk to him.
“Bye, bye Darrell. Call my cell phone. It’s 555-1212. Don’t leave me a message cause I can’t stand the stress.”
Darrell’s call was my first introduction to everyone’s favorite, the telephone ‘Robo-call.’ Back in the day Darrell was supporting a middle Tennessee politician for the U.S. Senate calling every Tennessean in this neck of the woods to vote for his guy. Darrell’s guy was a good candidate but lost.