Troll

The Troll lives on one of the offshore barrier islands they call “Keys” hereabouts. His condo is atop a tall building in a fancy “community” overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. I imagine it’s spectacular.

The Troll and his contrastingly charming wife spend most of the winter here. Business takes him back to New York regularly, however, and he’s a fan of early departures. That means extra-early (2:30 or 3:00 am) starts for we drivers.

That’s fine, and all part of the gig. Like I always say, this is not a job for those who need routine. And if you look, there are benefits to odd hours.

The Internet tells me that The Troll has a long career in finance. His last position was as chairman of a listed finance company, whose share price is now in the pennies. I imagine at one point he was a multi-millionaire, but now might be worth considerably less. There’s no way of telling, although public records tell us that he is still a decent-sized shareholder in that and several other companies.

All this communicates nothing about the man. We call him The Troll because he’s just plain unfriendly. And short. And squat. I’ve tried my “think your way to a happy customer” technique on him, which works to a point. He even said thank you last time I drove him, but in general he fails to acknowledge one’s presence. And of course, he doesn’t ever tip.

Life has a funny way of working. I note with interest that he suffers from some kind of skin or auto-immune ailment. Every time I drive him, he sits in the back scratching his surface like a moulting dog. It’s horrible, really, having an older man in a suit pick at his arms and face until there’s a cloud of epithelials in the Town Car. Gross.

Recently, his flight from Newark arrived forty-five minutes early. The driver just missed him at the airport, and so he caught a cab. Two points about this: one is that the cab fare would have been around eighty-five dollars more expensive than his trip with us. The second is that the reason he missed the driver was that he’s too cheap to own a cellphone.

Yep. Life has a funny way of working.

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