Daytime limousine rides are a rare but sweet kind of fruit. Obvious advantages over night-time runs are the fact that it’s light (yes, obviously, but very importantly) that you generally feel better (not exhausted by being awake when the body says go to sleep) and that they finish at a reasonable hour (therefore I can get to bed at the same time as regular people.)
The people who book a stretched limousine from noon until 10:00 pm are different from the night-time crowd too. They tend to be older, richer and happier. Often, the booking is made months in advance.
A recent run was representative. I was to meet eight folks in the parking lot of a local restaurant in The Boss’s super stretched SUV. Naturally, he has given me NO details…no idea of who the customers are, where we are going, nor if it’s a special occasion. All I have is a time and a place.
But experience told me the people would be fine, as indeed they were. As is usual, the organizer introduced himself to me, and gave me the outline of the day. His friends all arrived, and they’re loaded with food and booze and in very high spirits. That’s good. Happiness breeds happiness. When I see bottles of champagne, I too am happy.
But not everything is rosy. The airconditioning in this machine works satisfactorily, but not brilliantly. It’s a constant refrain from the back, asking that the a/c be turned up. All I can do is to tell them that it will cool down as we get under way, and that it’s a big volume of air to cool on a hot Florida day. They don’t care. If the least thing is wrong, people bitch. Sigh.
Another pending problem is that I have a navigator on board. A navigator is someone, almost always a guy, who wants to know every turn you plan to make. If you don’t describe precisely the route, they’ll pick it up and correct it. Unfortunately, this turkey is sitting right at my shoulder…which leads me to raise the divider. Thank goodness for the divider.
The plan was a common one: to Tampa for a matinee live performance (The Jersey Boys) then to an early dinner at a fancy steak house, and then home. That part was easy, and almost quite fun. I had time to read three newspapers, finish my book, make a few calls, spruce up the interior of the limo and take a half-decent lunch. (The latter’s not always easy, given how tricky it can be to find a park for the beast.)
After dinner, I was looking forward to dropping off these people and getting home. After all, I’d not finished until 4:00 am the morning before. (More bullshit scheduling from The Boss.) And then came the kiss of death…they wanted to stop for ice-cream. Oh, great. No-one can agree on where to go, and everyone’s tired, so they’re not communicating. The difficulty for me at a time like this is that I hear three different instructions from the back, but when I try to clarify which ONE I should follow, no-one speaks. It’s like I have to play the parent to a bunch of nine-year-olds.
Mr Navigator then springs into action. Okay, if you just make a U-Turn here, he says, pointing hopefully at a break in the median. My eyes roll in their sockets. This thing takes about TEN lanes to make a U-Turn, and gently suggest that another, wider intersection a little up the road will work better. He starts questioning me, asking what I’m doing…
…until he observes for himself PRECISELY how much real estate this damned machine needs for a U-ey.
But it all worked out. And it turns out that they were all real estate agents, on a pep-up trip, hoping and talking themselves into a better year ahead. Good luck with that, guys and girls.
And for a bunch of people who LIVE AND DIE on percentage sales commissions, the tip was abysmal. But I didn’t care. I was home in bed before midnight.