By Jim A. Luff
There certainly is a thrill when you get to drive someone like Elton John. It is an unbelievable experience to drive someone like Colin Powell and be having a conversation with one of the most powerful men in the world at the time. I was speeding to the airport at his request when we passed a motorcycle cop shooting radar. Powell said, "If he pulls you over, let me do the talking," to which I replied, "Okay."
Moments like this will never be forgotten. No, we did not get pulled over, but I will forever remember the experience. Long forgotten are the hundreds of hours waiting outside tony restaurants wondering if my people were ever going to come out. Sitting in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium, Staple Center, the Inglewood Forum, and many other venues reading parts of the newspaper I would never normally read out of sheer boredom are certainly forgotten. I would say there are far more hours of boring memories than there are of the glamorous moments. I still remember sitting on stage while Wynonna Judd was performing. Yes, I said, onstage. She invited me to sit on a chair just behind the curtain and watch the show. Those are moments in the industry where you experience something that most people will never have the opportunity to do in a lifetime.
Then there are all the meals at McDonald's, Taco Bell, and In N' Out Burgers that were crammed into my face as fast as possible so I could get back to my boring position of standing by at a venue. You know, the dash where you drop the people off at the arena and then head off to get fuel for the ride home. You stuff your face at the same time and hurry back to the venue in hopes of snagging that prime parking space so you get the big fat tip for being in the right place at the right time.
These are all parts of the job of the chauffeur. I guess you could call it the good, the bad and the ugly. Well, the ugly part comes from sleep issues. Because of the nature of the business, assignments start at 4:00am or 4:00pm or anywhere in between. I try to remember when scheduling, how horrible it was that I would sometimes work until 1:00am, and then be back on the road at 8:00am doing a 10 hour day. So, you end up trying to take a nap in the seated position while your clients are eating a meal or attending a business meeting. Medical studies have shown that sleep habits that are constantly changing can weaken your immune system and make you vulnerable to catching colds and coughs as a result. For this reason, I try to work chauffeurs either daytime, nighttime, or late night, and keep them on that same schedule for their own health as well as for safety reasons. I can't do anything about the fast food intake, but at least I can make sure our chauffeurs are rested properly.
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