in the US.
My driver was amazing. He was French, had a full head of silver grayish hair, a thin scarf and a suit. It was obvious that I hadn’t had many drivers so he thought it would be nice for us to take the scenic route. Our conversation was incredible and he would chime in from time to time to make sure that I saw this historical building or that famous monument, it was a dream.
When he asked me about my schooling, I was a bit embarrassed. I had to drop out of college my senior year, move home and attend Indiana University NW, which was an extension near my hometown. But then I decided to follow my college sweetheart to Georgia and then to chase another boyfriend to Orlando, so I never quite finished. Once I started heading south though, I was in and out of colleges trying to somehow earn enough credits to one day graduate.
For whatever reason I blurted all of that out! Laurent pulled over, turned around, paused for a moment and said, “You’re in the School of Life now, those credits mean nothing here”. He winked, turned the corner and in we went to a real live Boulangerie to have a café and a French pastry with his long time friend who owned the bakery.
As we hugged goodbye, I jokingly said “I promise to write about you in my book one day”, I teared up a bit and I think he did too.
The wonder and awe of the drive quickly faded as I turned around to see masses of people getting into giant luxury busses and I was supposed to meet the client in all if that, with no cell phone, or as they say in Europe, ‘mobile’.
Panic set in as I can hear Mom in my head worried because I was in a strange country where I didn’t speak the language and had no phone….. I’m tough right, or at least I told myself that as I cruised past the people heading towards the entrance and then there he was, easy peasy. Froggie handed me a T-shirt to wear with company information on it while explaining to me why I was there as we boarded one of the busses. Turns out he sponsored the whole event for hundreds of people and we were headed to the best part of the day.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. He rented a huge indoor go kart track where the food and endless bottles of wine were all chilling on huge beds of ice decorated with shellfish, sushi, appetizers, the works. Wait, so why am I hear again….to help he said and while you’re doing that, eat and drink as much as you like while riding super fast go karts all night for free! Now I practically grew up in an arcade walking distance where I grew up in Merrillville Indiana and we never played anything for free, I was in heaven.
When I say super fast, I mean those babies could fly and everyone was ramming into each other. He t-boned my kart hard on a curve and I swear my neck snapped. I was mad and although I wasn’t the fighting drunk anymore, I was competitive and he would pay for that. 3 glasses of wine later and I was Richard Petty on a mission, I got him too, swear I heard his neck snap.
It had to be about midnight and there were a handful of us left cleaning up and saying good night, including the boss. The establishment owner called us a cab and then insisted we wait outside as he needed to close up for the night. The first car showed up which seemed like hours later and only had room for everyone but him and I so the driver called in another for us. We were cool with that, Froggie was just telling me a story about his young daughter anyway.
When the van pulled up full of people, I was devastated. We were drunk, tired and had now been waiting a good hour for a ride and the one that showed up, had no room. Within a blink of an eye, my guide, the man who was supposed to be looking out for me, opened the door, squeezed into the back seat, threw me a $100 bill and yelled, “Call another taxi”. Call another taxi???? And go where????? I was staying in Nice, a good 40 minute drive and a $100 bill was not going to cut it, I was in Cannes France, it’s expensive there!!!!!!!!
Oh wait, there’s more!!! I had no phone, it was dark, I was alone and there were no cars to be seen ANYWHERE!! WTF?????? And then I remembered that the Captain had written down his hotel information just in case I needed it. They screamed back over the loud music that they would send another cab as I watched their taillights slowly fade down the hill. It wasn’t long before my ride came and good thing because I was fuming mad and couldn’t wait to get a hold of him.
Anyone within an ear shot of that hotel had to of heard me beat on his door while yelling his name. This went on for a good 2 minutes while his assistant, who had the adjoining room tried to brush me off through the door saying to go home. That wasn’t happening and they knew it so in I went! There were a million things I wanted to say but I was representing this jet company and really wanted them to call me again so thank goodness something grabbed a hold of me and shook me back to my senses.
He was standing as far from the door in the room as possible kind of laughing but also trying to be serious because he knew he was wrong and I was really upset. I went nose to nose and just said, “What if that was your daughter left there?” After that we sat up for hours drinking wine and getting to know each other and both promised to keep all of this from the pilots.
The next day everyone boarded the plane as we head to our 3rd stop, Amsterdam. The pilots and I greet the guests at the top of the stairs so it was crucial for me to keep it professional in order for them not to suspect a thing. Froggie kept trying to break my zone as I strolled up and down the aisle serving drinks and dinner, but I maintained. As we landed, he slyly handed me a piece of paper with his hotel address on it with a note that said, ‘party with us tonight, be there at 8…’