Driver and Driver
They came and went, courtesy of the HR department, who evaluated employees' performance and screened applicants.
"Hilarious," is the comment I get from readers. One sent me a text message at 4 AM, "I am reading about your drivers and laughing so hard after a long day of TV ad shoot. My neighbors may think I am a candidate for a mental institution!"
Well, I, too, laughed with every word I wrote. Oh, those were frenzied, manic days!
After jumping off the corporate tightrope, I settled into a placid, sedentary life of writing, glued mostly on a computer chair in one nook at home. There is no sense in having a driver on standby for my short hop to the university where I teach part-time, once-a-month trip to a book talk, twice-a-year book launching, or occasional coffee or lunch with friends.
I have learned to enjoy the perks of public transportation—tricycle, bus, jeepney, cab, FX—and the extraordinary grace they cart in.
There are very special occasions, however, when I need a car, and therefore a driver. So without the aid of an HR (and the absence of a steady income), I have to hire someone for . . . free.
This someone is driver #25 and, between you and me, if I still had the luxury of an HR, I'd beg for driver #26.
This current one is in a class all by himself. His mysterious and obsessive rush to get ahead of every vehicle on the road makes my heart skip and my toes curl.
Sometimes, I resort to praying for my life. But if I have to get to where I need to be, intact, I stay quiet.
What brings about the horror, I think, is the fact that with this driver, I need to sit politely awake in the front seat instead of the back where I used to nap, daydream about the next TV concept, do whatever I wanted, and openly verbalize my displeasure over sudden swerves and brakes.
In this new hallowed front passenger seat, I hear every gear change, every tire screech, every whiz of racing motorcycles zooming straight past me just when my driver is turning right, every silent expletive and grunt in tune with Elvis' rock n' roll or gospel songs.
I can't take my sweet time with this super-punctual driver either, nor ever change any of our prearranged-or-agreed schedule. He slots me in his busy calendar, honks his horn when I am taking two seconds too long looking for my cellphone or eyeglasses, and tells me where I need to wait, at what exact time, for pick-up.
Although he says nothing when I am delayed for an important reason (like trying on blouses on sale), nor has expressed anything that resembles complaint, I feel the need to treat him out for keeping him waiting and hungry. Meals or coffee cost.
Oh, what a ball I had writing about those 24 paid hands!
And now it's as though all 24 of them have conspired against my person, daring me, "Okay, now write about the 25th one."
Huh? How can I write about the one who shares my home address and who lists me as the principal beneficiary in his insurance policies and bank accounts, and whose driving fee I can never afford?
Those 24 drivers would now be rolling with laughter. After their abbreviated stints in my employ, I am left with a driver I can't fire, suspend, berate, admonish, ignore, chide, pay, replace, nor name—for life.
They would be right, can anything be more hilarious?
P.S. Oh, I have an occasional driver, my friend G. But she and my driver above are two peas in a pod. The only difference is—G, who is gorgeous with a capital G, can disarm any traffic cop or any other driver on the road.