For two days I have not driven further than the grocery store and the beach. There’s not much driving work at The Boss’s shop anyway at the moment (surprise) but sometimes I need concentrated down-time.
To the untutored eye, the life of the limo driver looks to be a lot about doing nothing. As I say to passersby and other people I talk to whilst on the job, my life is all about waiting. We wait for flights to arrive, we wait for people to emerge from their house, we wait for concerts to finish, we wait for strippers to take the last dollar from the bachelors. Lack of motion defines us.
Except that waiting is not the same as doing nothing, nor is it the same as hanging around at home. Waiting creates a sub-species of stress, based around being ready to spring into action at very short notice. Think of fighter pilots sitting in their jets at the end of the runway waiting for the call to scramble – sure, they’re idling, but relaxed they’re not.
Not that waiting for an arriving flight is the same as defending the country, although if we fail to find our customer at the airport some of them are prone to starting WW III. That’s the stress. It is fear of something going wrong, for which we are blamed. Most people are pretty quick off the mark with a phone call to The Boss if something goes wrong. That tees him up ready to take a swing at us, notwithstanding that we’ve done everything right.
If the customer takes the wrong escalator to the wrong arrivals hall, it’s not my fault. If the customer fails to meet the limo at the previously decided corner, it’s not my fault. If the customer fails to tell me that it’s not THEM travelling, but their daughter and her boyfriend, it’s not my fault if I don’t recognize them.
But it ends up that I get heaped upon, because the driver is at the end of the power line, and at the head of the blame line.
So much of my time is spent out-thinking customers. I’ll pre-call to confirm arrangements. I’ll draw maps and make drive-bys to point out a place I can safely stop. I’ll even park up the limo and follow people so I know where they are – drunks are prone to foxing innocent drivers by claiming to not know where they are.
It’s all part of being a driver, but with all the sleuthing and figuring out human nature, I sometimes I think I should start a private detective agency.