My Chauffeur nickname is Renegade because I’m just a little bit crazy…
One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has changed for me is the types of rides I get. Pre-pandemic, I would be sent between five and eight rides per day between 3:00am and 6:00pm. The rides would be sent the night before, so I would have plenty of time to plan ahead for them.
Now I get from one to four rides a day. Many are “ASAPs,” meaning the client just called in the reservation and needs to be picked up right away. The following are some recent examples:
I was sound asleep, dreaming about the Tesla Model S I can’t afford, when my phone rang with the police siren alert. It was dispatch. There was a passenger who needed to be picked up in North Jersey, brought to a South Jersey emergency room to pick up a relative, then brought back home to North Jersey.
I picked up the mom and daughter in North Jersey and we found our way to the medical center emergency room in South Jersey to pick up the Dad. We picked him up and made it back to North Jersey, where I brought them all home safely.
My next ride was a pick-up in Westchester County, NY at 7:00am, so I headed over to my favorite 24-hour deli – Rocky’s Deli in Millwood – to get my regular: The Balboa Cheese Steak. This artery clogger is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.
I sometimes give rides to neighbors in my building; sometimes they help me pay for gas. Sometimes it’s more of a barter arrangement. For example, a woman in my building gives me haircuts in exchange for rides.
One day I was getting my haircut from my neighbor. In the middle of the haircut, I got an “ASAP” call from dispatch saying a VIP at Newark Airport forgot to make a reservation and needed a ride immediately. My free haircut was interrupted.
(I moved to the building where I have now lived for the past three years in Union, NJ, because it is only 8.6 miles from Newark Airport. This was a strategic move on my part since I pick up a lot of ASAPs at Newark Airport!)
Long Island Long Haul
On the day of a major snowstorm in mid-December, I was getting dinner ready when I got an “ASAP” text from dispatch at 5:30pm, asking: “How fast can you get to Bayonne?”
I replied: “30 minutes.”
The dispatcher was happy to hear that!
After I accepted the ride, I realized the drop off was on the farthest eastern point of Long Island – a three-hour drive with no snow or traffic!
I picked up the passenger in Bayonne at 6:15 and got to Montauk, NY by 10:00pm.
On the long drive out there, I had to stop every five miles to get ice off the windshield wipers and clear snow and ice from the hood. We saw a Toyota Corolla that had gotten wedged under a tractor trailer and various car crashes due to the snow, but we finally made it to Montauk safe and sound.
The next morning, dispatch sent me a text that read, “Thanks for driving last night. You are truly a renegade.” That text made my day.
The moral of this Street Story is: Whatever job dispatch sends you, always be ready for it and always do your very best!