I never got a chance to say goodbye.
Just before the International LCT Show in Vegas, I had the opportunity to speak to Carla several times about transportation for some of my clients arriving at Fort Lauderdale by air, spending time in the area, and then boarding a cruise ship. The particular family I was serving happened to be a local travel agent. She was giving me a chance to show her that I could handle transportation in any city in the world. It was a family of six traveling with luggage for 10 days. This presented a challenge, but Carla was up for it.
When I received the call from my client requesting service in Carla’s area, there was no doubt of whom I was going to call. Last summer, I called upon Carla when one of my well-heeled clients asked me to handle transportation for her in Miami. She wanted to have dinner at a restaurant where the wait is typically an hour and they don’t accept reservations. My client told me emphatically, “I do not wait in lines.” Remember, this woman has the financial capacity to buy anything she desires so it was not a pompous statement. I’m sure she could easily buy the entire restaurant as an investment. Carla told me it would not be a problem, but she would need to add a $100 charge to the total that would be given to the maitre d’ of the restaurant whom of course was a personal friend of Carla’s. I don’t believe that was luck. I believe that was from developing working relationships with the swankiest of restaurants the way a good operator should.
Carla never mentioned to me as we spoke in February about being ill. She sounded fine on the phone. We spoke about getting together in Las Vegas to spend some time chatting. I always enjoyed chatting with Carla and her husband, Bob. It never was planned. Oddly enough, we always seemed to run into each other in hotel lobbies while waiting for our respective rides to take us to the airport at the conclusion of a Show. I always enjoyed listening to Carla speak with such passion about the industry and even dust-ups within the NLA or Florida limo associations. She was not afraid to voice her opinion and her opinions ran strong.
When I was told of her absence at the Show, I was told she was “sick.” I did not realize the magnitude of the illness and the need for open-heart surgery. I assumed she had a bad case of the flu that was so prevalent at the Show. I had the flu, Sara Eastwood-McLean had the flu or some type of illness, and I assumed Carla would rebound and I would see her at the next Show or have one of our long phone conversations in the near future. Had I known how serious the illness was, I would have certainly called to have one more chat to gain just a little more knowledge that she was always so eager to share. I am sorry I never got to thank her for all her advice. I am sorry I never got to say goodbye.
Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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