Horrors Come to Pass

Written years ago, and yet look at the prescience. Awful. Things are so much worse now in 2016.

Dr Braithwaite and his wife are becoming fixtures in my travels at Harry’s Limousine. He’s a retired physician who flies to Houston for chemotherapy every couple of weeks, proof that cancer is an equal opportunity disease. I drove these charming and urbane folks home last night, passing the time with a good-natured discussion about everything from New Zealand green-lipped mussels to the criminality of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Dr Braithwaite was at Haahhhvahhhd when fat Ted was there, and explained to me that when he was caught cheating in 1951 and tossed out, a donation to the university made it all go away. How surprising.

Waiting for their bags at the carousel, our conversation turned to the TSA. The good Doctor, not normally given to cussing, was hot under the collar at the idiocy of airport checks. Taking toothpaste from sick old white men is keeping us safe, apparently.

He’s right to be angry, because giving authority to people who would otherwise have none is a sure pathway to making them martinets. It’s not the flunkies’ fault though; the fault lies with their bureaucratic masters. Political correctness doesn’t allow the profiling that would actually add to our security. Arab-looking or Muslim men are obviously the greatest threat, but the folks at TSA aren’t allowed to discriminate between a thirty year old Egyptian flying school wash-out and my nice dying doctor.

What this cluster-fuck does is to inconvenience the maximum number of innocent people, and add only marginally to aviation safety. Diversity nuts and lefty PC police, listen up: you will kill us with this idiocy.

Maybe that’s your aim.

Dr B drew the obvious conclusion. If you want a universal healthcare system, run by the federal government, consider the TSA, because that’s what happens when government runs anything.

As PJ O’Rourke wrote, “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”

Cash

Naivete about tipping and associated behaviour eventually got me into, shall we say, negotiations with the revenue-collection agency of the US federal govt. Still, no experience is not valuable in some way, right?

 

Noting with no little confusion that I failed to win the Florida Lotto last night (I’m sure there must be a mistake) it’s back to earning money the hard way – with tips from my limousine customers.

Moonlighting for The Boss’s Limousine Service hasn’t been as full of backseat rompers and sticky seats as I had imagined. Mostly it’s people in suits working for big companies, successful self-employed types and wealthier than average people coming and going. All but one of these people have been a delight to toil for.

The truth is that the highlight of any trip is the tip. Never having worked for tips before, I’m a little unsure of the protocol, especially with cash. When someone palms me a folded note, I can’t resist looking and trying to figure out what denomination it is. The correct way (I think) is to maintain one’s gaze at the customer, like a doorman at the Bellagio, and pretend it isn’t happening. (Okay, I’m thinking of the movie Casino, where Ginger has all the right people on her side with carefully distributed tips.)

I’ve been fiddling with the words, and feel that something like Thank you ma’am, that’s very generous of you, strikes the right tone. (And can be neatly ironic if it’s two bucks for four hours.)

Anyway, with limited observations, this is what I have learned: That nice people, no matter their wealth, will tip generously, and not-so-nice people, no matter their wealth, won’t.

Champagne?

Limodriving (yes, one word kthnx) is about making silk from polyester. This from a previous, not that distant life.

Cadillac Bar

At The Boss’s Limousines, we offer a “Champagne Service” – deceptive advertising if ever I’ve seen it.

Scheduled to provide this premium offering for a couple on an evening dinner run, I asked Bossman what he expected.

Boss: Well, you know, grab a bottle from the fridge, keep it on ice in the car, open it and pour them each a glass.

Me: Should I do this in the forecourt of their hotel, or pull into a gas station?

(I think at this stage The Boss was wondering if I was the man for the job.)

Boss: I don’t know, you’ll figure it out. Just don’t spill anything on the carpet.

(We see where his priorities lie.)

His idea of champagne needs some tweaking. What he wanted me to do was to take a bottle of two-buck spumante rolling around the bottom of the office fridge, and pour that for folks paying $66 bucks an hour for a mini-stretch Cadillac. How embarrassing.

What I actually did was to stop off at the supermarket on the way, spent ten bucks of my own money, and bought a half-decent bottle of Californian methode champenoise. Serving spumante as champagne is fraud, in my book.

The setup for the evening was too cute. Two college-aged daughters had organized an anniversary night out for their parents while they were on vacation down here. All they knew was to be downstairs in their hotel at 6:30, and to go with the flow.

Of course, I was the surprise (lucky, lucky) and with two glasses and bottle in hand, managed to serve them drinks in the lobby without embarrassing either them or me. I left to wait in the car, thankful for no stuff-ups.

The rest of the evening was (as I am learning) pretty standard stuff. I took them to their mystery restaurant (which their daughters had chosen and paid for) hung around, and took them back to their hotel.

Two things made this night a little different. The first is that this couple talked with each other all night. They talked all the way there (thirty minutes) they talked all through dinner (don’t ask, I just know) and they talked all the way back. The last I’m guessing, because they did raise the privacy screen for a while, although professional ethics prevent me from speculating about what happened. Okay, if I knew, I would tell you.

But it struck me as refreshing to see a long-married couple still animated by each other after twenty years.

The second good thing was the fifty tip.

Which goes to show that knowing spumante from champagne does have some benefits.

Limolife

Wow. Eight years ago at the time of re-publishing. Just as appalling now.

Lincoln Stretch

Eighteen months living here in Geezerland and I still have no social life. None. Florida is a verrrryy strange place, but hey, there are worse places to be.

When a friend in Australia suggested I should get a part time job, I took her advice. I applied for a few things half-heartedly, and some with a little interest, but nothing took my fancy.

I should explain that I normally work from home, by myself, which gives you an idea of the isolation factor. My hours are reasonably flexible, but I was looking for something for late afternoon and evening, and weekends.

Craigslist found me the winning job, when I received an email response to an application I had submitted weeks previously.

So, drum-roll please, your humble blogger now has a part-time job as………a limousine driver.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Wombat is on the move as a chauffeur, driving the rich and famous – or just plain drunk – around his steamy Florida town. In three weeks of holding doors and hanging around, I’ve found enough material for a lifetime of blogging, so if nothing else it will be something fun to write about. Lord knows the money’s no reward.

Next time you arrive at an airport, and see the poor sap holding up a sign showing his customer’s name, think of me. In fact my last pick up had me getting all sorts of weird looks.

But then at least I don’t have to go through life being called Mr Rimmer.