BACK TO THE DRIVER'S SEAT:
This past Sunday I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I did a limo run. Well, actually I did a ride-along in a limousine for an airport pickup at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Looking back at our records, I had not been in the driver’s cab of a limousine since July 2005 when I did a pickup at LAX.
I didn’t get just get a whim to make a trip to LAX in a limo. Our son, Jeff, recently started driving and he had never done an LAX pickup or prepped a limo and done a limo run. Up until now he has only driven sedans. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone if we did an airport pickup in a limo. It was important to me that he does the job in a perfect manner.
There are 19 other chauffeurs who will carefully scrutinize him because he is the boss’s son. I also know that he could have been taught shortcuts or bad habits by another chauffeur and I expect him to lead by example. I was pleasantly surprised by his knowledge as we headed out on our two-hour journey to LAX. My plan was to go over our entire policy manual while he drove the car. I had given him the policy manual a month ago and asked him to read it. I didn’t think he actually would read it cover to cover but it was very apparent that he had done so.
I began discussing the importance of getting every trip ticket signed. He took over and explained to me how failing to get a ticket signed compromises the company’s position in billing disputes and the collection of money for damages to the vehicle and that failure to obtain a signature could result in his termination.
Obviously, the rest of the policy manual went very quickly as he completed each statement I began. I was nervous myself about our arrival at LAX. It had been more than four years since I did a pickup at the airport. Was the limo lot in the same place? Was the trip permit booth in the same place? I knew the metered parking lot was gone and that I reimburse employees all the time for parking structure fees so we must be able to park in the parking structure. I wanted to project confidence as a trainer but I was sure lacking it.
During the pre-trip inspection of the car, I found the spare set of keys was missing. The First Ad kit was missing. The road flares were missing and no one had written any of these things up in their Daily Inspection Report. If you lock yourself out of the limo and you are 150 miles away from your home city, this could present a problem, so it is important to have that spare key. I just wrote an article for LCT Magazine about the importance of having basic equipment such as a First Aid kit in every car, and here I find that we don’t have one in the car we were assigned to drive. Obviously I wrote all these things up for our fleet manager to address.
Everything went fine at the airport. There was the same miserable, single-file line of cars waiting to buy a trip permit. The same nasty porta-potties graced the limo holding lot. The same overzealous airport “boy scouts” were slapping their ticket book against their hands letting chauffeurs know they better not sit at that white curb much longer — or else!
We stood with the other chauffeurs, nine abreast holding our little signs beckoning our passengers to make contact with us. We collected their luggage off the carousel as it arrived. Of course we snagged a stray luggage cart in the parking lot to “borrow.” The trip home was delightful as my son drove and our two senior female passengers talked to me. Every once in a while my son would interject. He had dropped them off at LAX days earlier using a Lincoln Town Car. They specifically requested Jeff pick them up. Hence, the stars lined up to meet their request of providing Jeff, teaching the ropes of working at LAX, and preparing, driving, and cleaning a limousine.
At the end of the night, Jeff was presented with a $140 tip by the two ladies. They also gave him a thank you card they obviously bought in advance and praised him. They were obviously quite smitten with him. He said he could not believe how easy the job was and how for six hours of work he earned more than $200 and had a blast doing it. I had a great time myself and found out two important things. The first was that I need to personally inspect the cars regularly, and the second is that I truly enjoy the job of chauffeuring. It is indeed a fun job.
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor
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