The Best Riders

My favorite kind of rider is the person who is generally excited to be in the limo. Maybe it was a surprise from a loved one, or they have never been in one before, but they are just so happy to be in the limo. They treat everything in the car as if it is gold and get so excited about the window going up and down and that there is champagne in the car. I love these kinds of people because they truly savor the moment, and they believe they are experiencing something special. You know that that ride made their day.  

My other favorite kind of rider is one that asks a lot of questions or that wants to talk a lot. I love hearing about people’s lives and how it is that they got to my limo. Sometimes people tell me about their adventures, but other times about their struggles. One man got a ride by himself one day and he told me that his wife had always wanted to be in a limo and she never was. So, he brought her ashes in an urn and we drove around the city for two hours while he told me stories about her. It was one of the best rides I’ve ever had.  

For the most part, I have great riders and it’s the reason I do what I do, but sometimes you have a passenger that makes it extra special.  

The Worst Riders

I’ve been driving limos for 20 years and I’ve seen it all. From people having intimate relations in the back to people arguing to drunks puking their guts out, pretty much everything you can think of has happened in the back of my limo. Here are a couple of qualities that sum up the worst riders: 

  • Obviously, the overly drunk people. These are people I might pick up after a boxing match or a game. They are very drunk and can’t tell me where they are going. At least with bachelor parties, I knew the route ahead of time. But when people can’t give me clear directions, it gets very frustrating.  
  • The people who want to make several stops. I don’t mind stopping at one or two other places, but when they want me to go from one end of town to the other so they can pick up another person or just say hey to some girl they are seeing, I draw the line.  
  • People who want me to transport items. My limo is not a cab nor a u-haul, so I am not going to move your couch from one place to the next. There are cheaper ways to do that than limos. One time, a guy had bought a huge roll of toilet paper and wanted me to take it to his house. I am not a delivery service, and I told him that as much. He wanted to use the limo to impress his friends, so I told him to buy them all beer instead.  
  • Passengers who are racist, misogynistic, homophobic or bigots. Your business is your business, but the second you start talking hate speech and demoralizing an entire class of people, then we have a problem. It’s my limo, and I don’t have to let you be in it.  

Most customers are pretty great, but you always have those few that make you rethink this decision to drive. But then I have a great passenger, and I am ready for more!

How I Got Into Driving Limos

Driving limos is actually a second career for me, and at the ripe age of 72, I like it!  

For most of my career, I was an insurance sales man and I made pretty good money, enough for a home and to send my daughter to college. At 52, I had done pretty well for myself, and with the advice of my financial advisor, I decided to retire early. It was going to be the dream life—travel, golf, read books, all the things you plan to do in retirement. 

However, I hated it. I was so bored. I couldn’t last a day in the retired world and decided I needed something else. A client of mine had driven limos and he really liked it. In fact, he said I would be a good driver because I liked talking to people so much, which I do, and as a native to Atlanta, I knew the streets well. It seemed like a good idea, so I said I would do it until I am 60, give myself a little of extra room in my retirement.  

With the help of my client, I bought a limo, got my licensure, and started advertising my name around the city. I even put Jason Hadley on retainer as my lawyer in case any legal things arose.  

Well, I didn’t stop at 60, nor at 70. I am not a person that can stay home every day, so driving a limo is great work for me. I am lucky that if I am not feeling well one day, I have the financial means to take the day off.  

This really isn’t about making money, although I like doing that, but it’s about being around people and giving them a unique experience. I keep telling my friends that I will likely drive until the day I die, and I am still kickin’ so I am still drivin’.

When Driving Celebrities

Although most of my passengers are regular people, I have had the opportunity to drive around a few celebrities. While I can’t name names because that would be breaking the Limo Driver Ethical Code, I can give you some idea of what it’s like to drive these people.  

First off, even when a celebrity books you only for a few hours or to do just one drive, I end up booking my whole day. Sometimes this is a financial reward because they pay more than what I would make otherwise, but other times they skip the tip and give me just the fare. That has actually made me hate some of my favorite celebrities. There is one actor whose movies I refuse to watch because he stiffed me on a tip once! 

But, really the reason I book all day with the celebrity is because they are never on time and they might end up wanting me the whole day. You don’t want to tell some big shot that you can’t take them to their next appointment because you have a bachelor party from Cleveland coming in. If you can be flexible and accommodating, the celebrity may want to book your more often or refer you to friends.  

Also, know that you are never directly working with the celebrity. All the logistics of where to be and what should be in the car and when you need to arrive go through a manager or personal assistant. Many Pas ask you not to talk to the celebrity unless spoken to. I obey this rule, but I find that most celebrities are just people and feel like jerks if they ignore you so they end up saying thank you or something like that. Some of them are really chatty, which I like. You can NEVER ask a celebrity for a photo or an autograph. I’ve had limo driver friends who have met their heroes and asked for a photo, only for the celebrity to turn it down or get angry. That’s not an experience you want to have.  

The biggest rule to driving celebrities, though, is to just treat them like regular people!

What People Don’t Know About Limo Drivers (2/2)

People also think that limo drivers get paid really well. I don’t do too bad for myself, but it can be a struggle, especially with the rise of car-sharing apps that have options for nicer cars. Business has gone down over the last few years, but I have built up a pretty big clientele base that use me year after year, so that’s kept money coming through the door.  

Also, people assume that it’s mostly rich and famous people who use limos, but more often than not, I drive people who are just looking for that experience of being rich and famous. It’s everyday people like myself who are booking me for rides. I like these people, though, because they are so very excited to be in the limo and they make the most out of it.  

Lastly, driving a limo is hard work. You have to get people where they want to go in a timely matter but also make it entertaining. Sometimes they want to make three extra stops than we already planned and that takes navigational planning.  

Anyway, that’s a few things you may not have known about what it takes to be a limo driver!

What People Don’t Know About Limo Drivers (1/2)

Most people think that those who drive limos are experience drivers, who get paid really well, and have someone working for them to book all of their rides.  

Some of that is true for me.  

I work on my own, meaning that there is nobody in some office somewhere taking calls and telling me to go somewhere. In fact, if I were to give you my business card, the number would you lead you straight to my cell number. Obviously, this isn’t always conducive when driving people around, so I take most of my pre-book appointments through email. It’s way easier to get back to someone in between rides than trying to do business while managing traffic. Plus, my customers hate it.  

In reality, though, I get most of my rides from just parking my limo outside of busy places, like airports, stadiums, hotels. and theaters. If I don’t have anything pre-booked, which is usually two or three nights a week, I check the events schedule that night and go where I think there will be the most action. Another way that I get rides is by giving a piece of my cut to bell hoppers at hotels, who hook me up with their guests. This can be kind of a pain because some want a good chunk of the fare and the tip, but it’s a good way to get constant rides when things are slow. Another way I get passengers is through referral. If one guy orders be for a bachelor party for his six single friends, there is at least one of those guys who will also be getting married soon and need a limo for his bachelor ride. I have one entire group of girlfriends who I’ve driven around every year for each of their birthdays; I practically know everything about them!