Saturday

Cruise ship.

There is something delicious about Saturdays. They’re full of promise, an uncharted space of possibility.

Even working on a Saturday feels different. It’s lighter, more optimistic, even if your working day starts at 3:00 am like mine did last weekend.

The job was to collect two newlyweds from their honeymoon cruise after the ship docked at Port Everglades. Port Everglades is the name some marketing genius dreamed up for Fort Lauderdale’s cruise terminal. I had to be there by 8:00 am, necessitating the early start to allow for the trip, refuelling, coffee stops, and any one of the million things that can go wrong in a 230 mile trip in the early hours.

Actually, I rather like the very early starts. It’s like you’re on the cusp of something big and important, something that can’t wait for regular hours. A spy mission, or a Shuttle launch perhaps.

Okay, so collecting an entertaining young couple from a cruise isn’t quite in that league, but it’s a kind of fun, nonetheless.

A Saturday adventure kind of fun, and not a bad lark at all.

Muffin

Charlie.

Wombat, I feel like some Starbucks before we get going.

Yes sir. The usual?

Sure. And a blueberry muffin. And an O.J. And get something for yourself.

Got it. Thanks. I’ll have a coffee too.

So began last Friday, at the start of a three-hour trip from my side of Florida to Palm Beach with The Boss’s best customer.

He’s a brusque man. When working, he’s a model of concentration, and there’s no time he’s not working. Day or night, if not on the phone, he’s tapping away at the computer in the back of the town car.

Friday was a little different. I’m normally taking him to, or collecting him from, an airport, exhausted, or hyped, or both. But it was daylight, for a start, and he didn’t have a killer deadline to meet, so he was more relaxed – noticeably calmer, in fact, which augured well.

Usually I opt out of customers’ offers of joining them in food or drink. For me, it alters the relationship, moving away from the clear-cut driver/driven game to….well, that’s the thing. I’m not sure where it takes it. We’re not friends, because they know nothing about me. We’re not colleagues, because we don’t work together. There’s no way to know where I stand, which underlines the fact that role-play defines all of our interactions.

If only slightly, the nature of our relationship changed that day, not just because we shared a coffee. We joked about this and that. He laughed about his small bladder. We remarked on what good time we made by taking the back way. It was like the rhythm of the road and the open space allowed us both to take a break from our roles.

And how pleasant it was.

I love road trips.

Business

Neoslavery.
At The Bossman’s shop we have nine limousines including the party bus, and six drivers. Two of the chauffeurs are part-time, the others have other jobs or businesses.

It’s a smart way to run given that weekends see the most limousine jobs, when everyone can work, and weekdays are generally airport transfers and other town-car work. We’re all flexible enough that Harry can almost always crew the jobs. Almost always.

Sundays everyone is exhausted after late Friday and Saturday nights, or early starts during the week. So when The Boss called me Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t with good news. He was looking for volunteers for a pick-up, transport to a concert in St Petersburg, wait, and return. A good trip, normally, with nice customers.

Good, that is, if I wasn’t operating on ten hours sleep in the previous forty-eight.

It’s a Catch-22. If we don’t do the last-minute jobs when he asks, The Boss will hire more drivers, which means everyone earns less money. If we do the jobs, he will continue to expect us to do them, exhausted or not.

I did the job. It went without a hitch. And this sunset was my reward. Thank you St Pete.

I slept all day Tuesday.

Miami

Hispaniola.

Miami and I have a stressful relationship. She tries to get me lost, ding the car and intimidate me. I try to get where I’m going on time, without mishap, and stay safe.

It’s what professionals call a dysfunctional multi-factor cluster-fuck.

What is it about Miami? Why anyone would want to live there is beyond me, and visitors need psychiatric help. Seriously. Miami is a high-crime drainage ditch. The worst drivers in North America add piquancy to the whole mess. Maybe everyone is coked-out there, and I’m the only straight person. That would explain it.

Being a three-hour drive away doesn’t help. By the time we’ve reached the Devil City, it’s time for a bathroom break, a coffee, and a stretch. Unfortunately, finding the outskirts means the fun has just started. Blocked streets are normal. Suicidal driving (fast AND slow) is de rigueur, and there is a simmering low-level malevolence in the air.

And yet I tell The Boss that I like the trips there. For one thing, I’d rather be driving a decent distance than hanging around locally. And for another, I’m up for the challenge of finding my way around an unfamiliar and difficult place. I’m determined not to let her beat me. And one day I’ll have enough time to take some photographs.

For now I’m just happy surviving to tell the stories.

Army

Casino and booze.

As in life, nothing in the limo game ever works the way you think it will. Take last Monday night. The Boss rang me in the late afternoon, inquiring as to whether I wanted to do a late-night limousine run (as opposed to an airport collection.) This type of job pays better: the bigger car pays more, the pay is hourly rather than flat, and drinking customers usually means a bigger tip.
Okay, I said, I’ll do it.

Then the bad news.

It’s a bunch of young guys taking an Army buddy out before he goes back to the Middle East. Starting at 11:00 pm. With a pickup at a nearby mall.

Shit. Sounds dodgy to me. Best take the .38.

It’s also likely to mean a BIG mess, BIG drunkenness, BIG male behaviour.

The only part that came to pass was the BIG drunkenness. The guys were vastly amusing, very polite and friendly to me, and made my life as easy as possible.

Yet another case of my expectations being wrong.

The guy going back for another tour in Iraq was in uniform, and the way in which he was received everywhere he went was fan.tastic. People at the casino wanted his photograph. Women practically humped him in the street. Men bought him drinks. And at the strip club…

…but that’s another story.

Fart

Gas.

What: Sedan trip from the west coast of Florida to the east coast.

When: One day last week.

Who: Eighty-eight year old woman.

Why: Returning from the vacation condo to the real home.

With: Her uncontrollable hound.

Highlight: Her inability to stop talking about how wealthy she is.

Lowlight: Increasingly flatulent dog. Seriously. After four hours, it was still outgassing.

What kept me sane: Figuring if both scents of farts were pooch originated, or whether she was playing fart tennis with the dog.

Conclusion: Old women should not be foisted upon innocent limousine drivers, cross-country jaunts are only fun with friends, and flatulent dogs should be FedExed.

Sex

The legends are true.

A curious motion sets up when a six-feet three, two hundred pound man starts vigorously thrusting into his wife in the back of a six-passenger Cadillac limousine. It’s like a small boat caught in a swell, pushed forward one second, rearing back the next.

I know this because I witnessed it last night. Mr Bob ____________of ___ ______ _______, Florida, arranged for a limousine and a celebratory dinner. The occasion was his fifteenth wedding anniversary, a night he and his wife, Trudy ________ of the same address marked with a robust session of in-car fucking.

When he said, after dinner, “…take the long way home….and don’t speed…” it was clear what they were up to. With the privacy divider deployed and sufficient alcohol to overcome any coyness, they were into it before you could say “Exit I-275 Southbound.”

They rocked the limousine on its springs for about five miles before I thought the deed was complete. My silent laughter was shortlived, however, because that thing started humpin’ about twenty minutes later….and again not so long after that.

She enjoyed every minute from what I could figure out, although at peak excitement the similarity of her cries to a love-lorn chihuahua was slightly offputting.

So there. I am no longer a virgin limousine driver in the on-board sex department. It does happen.

Idiots

Ferners.

So, what part of England are you from?

I’m not from England, I’m from Australia.

Oh. Really? What are you doing here?

I won a lottery to become a permanent resident alien.

Is that like that movie? Being an alien? * laughing at their joke *

Oh, yes, in Australia, women often have slimy be-toothed creatures emerge from their abdomen. * laughter, sometimes *

Yes, but why did you move here?

For the opportunity. This is still the best country in the world.

Yes, but….* awkward silence as they think about what to say next *…things aren’t very good here now, you know…* drifting off *

Well, ma’am, like most immigrants, I have a more optimistic view about these things.

Fifteen minutes later I pull up to their private jet sitting on the apron and unload the stack of designer luggage while the pilots fawn over them. They’re off to St Thomas for the week.

Yeah, things aren’t very good here.

Gas

Markets.

Not so long ago, when I was living in Seattle, gas was a buck fifty a gallon. How things change.

Fortunately, the price of gasoline doesn’t affect my pocket directly in the limo game. The company absorbs that cost, but even so, it’s smart to find the lowest price. The one exception is Citgo stations. Sending money to a repressive arsehole like Hugo Chavez is counterproductive, unless you’re an advocate of turning democracies into dictatorships.

My choice of where to refuel the car isn’t just based on the price. The trend towards gas stations becoming fast-food and grocery stops appears to be accelerating, which is a good thing for me. Coffee is the big thing now. New stations have enormous coffee centres, with pretty decent quality black stuff too. That is often accompanied by the Krispy Kreme fat case, a temptation I’m proud to say I almost always avoid.

One of our regular limousine customers builds and operates such places. He and his wife are very down-to-earth people, a delight to drive. They confirmed that gasoline sales basically only break-even, and that their profit is derived mostly from sales in the store. Soft drinks, beer and (no surprise) coffee. Funny how business works.

Then again, they must be selling a lot of coffee, because they have just finished building an eight million dollar house in California wine country. Maybe the gas does more than break even.