Monday, December 21, 2009

Limo Driver

In the movie “The Bucket List” Morgan Freeman and Jack Nickelson are two older men who have a list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. I too have a list. It is not very exotic and mainly involves things I haven’t driven so far in my life. As you get older I think you have license to satisfy some of these desires. Some time ago a Limousine company set up shop just down on Main four blocks from our house. They have a full complement of Limos from Lincoln town Cars, Hummers. to full buses made up as limousines. I didn’t even know being a Limo driver was on my list but some how it showed up. This is the story of my first two jobs. The misspelled words are a salute to my being able to spell words in such a way that even spell check can’t help me
My First Job as Lemo driver was to pick up a group of Hispanic people.

I was supposed to go though 16 hours of training for my new part time job. I was into the third hour on the second day of watching a video on the rules and protocol of chauffeurs. The trainer is also the manager and dispatcher. We were scheduling a time when he could take me out at night and drive around Scottsdale as that is one of the favorite destinations. He also wanted to acquaint me with nighttime driving in a stretch limo.

While we were engaged in this conversation a call came in from Phoenix from a very upset woman who had pre-paid $350 for three hours of limo service that was supposed to have started 30 minutes ago. Brandon shuffled though his desk till he found the contract that had not been entered into the computer and thus had not been assigned. Sensing the tension of the moment, I excused myself and told him I would call tomorrow. He replied, “How quick can you go home, get your suit on and be back here for this run”?

In the few nano-seconds that I had I am thinking; Lets see, I have never driven a stretch limo, we will be almost an hour late by the time that I get there, the customer is already upset---perfect---- I’ll take it and was back in 15 minutes. Helpers were prepping the limo when I got back and I got about three minutes of instruction on the controls of this stretch mobile. I put it in gear and pulled out of the yard into the narrow street behind the yard. How hard can this be I’m saying. After all I drive a forty-foot school bus every day. There were similarities. It seemed forty foot long but with less visibility both front and rear and a worse turning radius.

The occasion was a “Quinceanera” coming out celebration for a 15-year-old Hispanic girl. I had already been warned there would be no tip for this run as they have usually spent all the money they have been saving for months to put on this party. That proved to be correct but my life is more about experiences right now than it is about money.

Armed with a map of the destination in downtown Phoenix I was soon on the freeway trying to figure out how close the cars were to the rear of me as I was making lane changes. The map took me to one of the more humble parts of Phoenix. These were project houses. All looked alike and were the same color. As I made my way down the narrow roads between the houses my clue that I was at the right place was a group of nice looking young men in fancy tuxedos standing on their dirt lawn. This is all that was left as the rest of the group had move on to an Old Catholic church for the ceremonies. They quickly and courteously gave me directions to the church. The ceremonies were already in progress. When I dropped the boys off. I decided to lock the car and go observe what was happening. In testing the remote lock that had all the directions worn off I hit something while the door was still open which set the car alarm off. I can hear the music from the church so I assume they can hear the car alarm. Panic!! Getting a tip is now out of the question. I’m now just trying to stay out of jail for disturbing one of the most important events in a young fifteen year olds life. As it turned out after an eternity of 30 seconds getting the alarm off, I found the music I was hearing was coming from a loud speaker outside the church.

When you get to an event way late it seems to get over way early. Soon out came the party-goers in their fancy dresses and tuxedos. The mother who had prepaid for the Limo let me know of her unhappiness and reminded me that she had paid of three hours of service. I assured her that she would get her three hours and that I was at her service. Seven young men and one girl got in the back and asked me to just drive them around downtown Phoenix. I still have two hour left on the clock. After about fifteen minutes I stopped and asked them if they would like to go see some great Christmas lights in Mesa. They thought that would be cool so we took the freeway back to Mesa. I drove up in front of the temple and let them out advising them that this was a sacred place so they would need to observe a reverent attitude. The temple lights are very impressive and from their part of Phoenix it is possible they had never seen them before. They were quite impressive too. There were seven young men in tuxedos escorting one young woman in a princess gown around the temple grounds. Finally they had had enough. I felt like I was being instructed to take Cinderella from the ball back to the kitchen as we returned to the project houses.

Upon returning to Mesa what grandfather could resist going by his grandkids house and giving them a ride in the stretch limo before returning it to the yard. Not this one. Errol

Ride # 2 I picked up two couples in a gated community in Chandler and drove the to North Scottsdale for a short birthday gathering. The round trip was 90 miles. This trip was quite uneventful as I had my GPS guiding me and it was mostly freeway both ways. On returning to Chandler one of the men slipped me a couple of bills. Discretion dictates that you don’t examine the tip in the presence the customer. You merely thank them for being able to serve them and be on your way. At my first opportunity I held the bills up to the dim interior light of my stretch Cadillac to find they were both of the $100 type. My tip less teenagers soon became a dim memory and I was forced to reexamine my reasons for doing this job. EB