In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I’m devoting this month’s column to two of my passions: Cars and Driving!
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved cars and everything about them. As a child, I could usually be seen clutching a car in my hand or playing with Matchbox cars.
My first experience behind the wheel was pretty funny. My parents wanted to buy a new car and they were considering the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. The car was for my Mom, who had a flair for being fashionable and sporty.
Back in those days, car dealers had an honor system where someone buying a car could take a demo model home overnight to get a real feel for it. This was my big chance to get behind the wheel and pretend I was driving one of the truly great beautiful classic muscle cars – a black 1968 Ford Mustang convertible!
I’ve always been an early morning riser, and at age five, this was no different. I would wake up at 4:00am (I called it black morning time) and start my day.
This particular morning, I had the brilliant idea to climb into the Mustang and pretend I was driving it. Well, of course I had to try out the horn to hear how it would sound, so I leaned on the horn and woke up the whole neighborhood! I got in so much trouble for that one!
Driving professionally is just awesome. Why? Because I’m my own boss behind the wheel. As long as I don’t crash, get lost or arrive late for a pick up, nobody bothers me. In fact, the only time I hear from the Chauffeur Manager is if a passenger sends a compliment after a ride.
Every day, I drive to a place where I have never been before. Every day, I meet a passenger I’ve never met before, and 99% of the time, they are very pleasant and professional. Every day, I see something on the roads of New Jersey or the streets of NYC that makes me a better driver, whether it is learning from an accident someone else was in or discovering a short cut I did not know about previously. Every day, I enjoy the freedom of listening to news and talk shows on the radio. I also borrow CDs of beautiful music from libraries in the area. My passengers often comment on how much they enjoy the Classical and New Age music I play.
I spent 25 years in medical marketing and advertising. It was a rough ride. My last layoff was in September 2012. I couldn’t get back into that industry because I was too old at age 50. After struggling to find work for a year, a friend told me about this great job. There is no age discrimination in the car service industry. I plan to continue driving way past retirement, maybe even up to the year 2050!