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Getting enough sleep is crucial for everybody. Eight hours of sleep is especially critical for a chauffeur entrusted with driving passengers safely to their destinations each day, in an $80,000 SUV.

I’m ashamed to admit that, in the handful of nights over the last nine years that I’ve gotten less than eight hours of sleep, I’ve slept right through my alarm. Argh!

A Couple Near Misses

There have been a couple of times when Dispatch called, giving me just enough time to jump into my suit and hightail it out of my apartment and jump into my vehicle, like Batman.

I love Batman!

These “near misses” weren’t noticed by my customers, because I texted them to let them know I was on my way, and that I’d arrive shortly to pick them up. More importantly, I always assure the passengers they won’t miss their plane or train. They always appreciate this reassurance; it’s one less thing for them to worry about!

Proper “Sleeplanning”

For a morning chauffeur like myself, planning ahead is essential. I do what I call “sleeplanning,” which helps ensure I have enough rest. I check my rides in advance to make sure I’m prepared for any special requests. If my first pickup requires one or more child seats or any other special requests, I take care of them the night before, so I am not scrambling on the morning of the pickup, risking being late.

I also fill up with gas the night before, stock up on water, tissue packs, candy and mints and prepare my texts to dispatch and my passengers the night before, to save time and plan ahead.

If my first ride is a pickup at 3:00am, I wake up at 1:00am. Backing out eight hours from that means I go to bed by 5:00pm the previous evening. Crazy, right? Actually, what is crazy (and dangerous) is going to sleep at 10:00pm and having back-to-back jobs for 12 hours – from 3:00am to 3:00pam – on three hours of sleep. THAT’s crazy!

I wake up two hours before each first morning run because I want to give myself time to wake up, shave, shower and get my much needed cup(s) of extra strong coffee. Driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving drunk. Many times throughout the day, I will arrive at my pickup location an hour early and take a power nap in my vehicle.

My grandfather (Mother’s father) used to say that if you can close your eyes long enough “to drop your keys,” you have gotten enough rest to power through your day. I’m constantly dropping my keys!

It’s Not Just Me!

Occasionally, I will be en route to my first pickup of the day at 3:00, 4:00, or 5:00am and I will get a call from dispatch saying I need to take another ride because a chauffeur overslept. I don’t mind this. In fact, it usually turns out the ride that was assigned to Sleeping Beauty is a better paying trip!

The moral of this Street Story is to always give yourself enough time to get at least eight hours of sleep EVERY night, no matter what ridiculously early time you have to go to sleep the night before. If you need to, take a power nap (or two) between rides, making sure to “drop your keys,” but NEVER nap during a ride. The result could be permanent sleep!

Article by RH Stovall, Jr

R.H. Stovall, Jr. is a Senior Executive Chauffeur, trainer and mentor for Royal Coachman Worldwide in Denville, NJ.

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