Steele Drivin' Man 18/?
Sent: Wednesday, December 04, 2002
From: Anne Rose []

Here's Fred's next excellent adventure. Many thanks to Susannah, Pat and
Lauryn for seeds of ideas that you planted. Hope you enjoy the harvest!

Thanks also to Lauryn for astute editing. Your feedback is appreciated.
Nancy, you may archive.


DATE: September 29, 1984
MILEAGE: 36,108
MAINTENANCE: see below

I think this week has been the most fun for me since Miss Holt sent me to
driving school when she hired me.

I guess it really all started in June. I was cooling my heels in the
Westwood Marquis parking lot while Mr. Steele and Miss Holt were at some
champagne garden party for The City of Hope. A bunch of us limo drivers
were standing around trading stories when this guy walked up and greeted oneof the other drivers. He started introducing himself around, and it turnedout he was a Teamsters Union organizer and was looking to sign people up for the chauffeurs' union. I knew most of these guys drove for limo companies, so I didn't think he would be interested in me. But he told me anyone who drove for hire could join. I took his folder and told him I'd think about it.

I read the folder after I took them home and decided that this might be
something I could sign up for. Since I know which side my bread is buttered
on, I showed the information to Miss Holt the next day when I was taking her to an appointment, to clear it with her. She took it and told me she'd get back to me.

A couple of days later, Miss Krebs called me and asked me to come upstairs
to see Miss Holt. Just as I expected, Miss Holt had researched this and
gotten a copy of the work rules from the union office. She told me she
didn't have a problem paying my dues, but she didn't think that the way we
operated (meaning working 24/7 when we needed to) was going to fit in with
the work rules. She told me she wanted to encourage me to belong to a
professional organization, especially if it meant there would be continuing
education I could take advantage of. But she wanted me to understand that
if my working hours didn't fit in with the shop rules that I'd have to let
those violations just kinda slide. I know she wasn't threatening me, but I
got the message behind the message, if you know what I mean.

So I started carrying a union card, and in August I got a mailer about the
union's annual meeting in Ventura County. I carried it around for a while,
and after Miss Holt told me that the office would be shut down for a couple
weeks because she and Mr. Steele and Miss Krebs were going to Europe, I
realized that the meeting was at the same time. I asked her if it would be
OK for me to register to go, and she was all for it. I think she was glad
to have me going somewhere when everyone else was gone, instead of when
everyone else was working.

A couple of weeks ago I was taking Mr. Steele somewhere and I realized I had left the mailing from the meeting in the back seat. He started flipping
through it and asking me about it. I told him since I'd never been so I
didn't know what to expect. He stopped flipping when he got to a full page
ad from some limo accessories company here in town. Something really caught
his attention, because he got out his pen and circled it. When we got to
Rossmore he passed the booklet back to me and showed me what he circled. He
told me he wanted me to visit this company's display at the meeting and
check out prices on privacy screens. He gave me one of those knowing
smiles, and I didn't have to ask for any details. The only other thing he
said was to be sure not to tell Miss Holt.

The afternoon before my convention I took everyone to the PanAm terminal at
LAX. They were all in high spirits. Miss Krebs was excited about her first
trip to Europe. She kept reading to us from her tour book. Miss Holt was
sitting about as close to Mr. Steele as she could get away with, which was
easy to do since Miss Krebs was back there too. I could see Miss Holt and
him glancing at each other regularly. I think Mr. Steele must have smiled
all the way to the airport, and I could pretty well guess what he was
thinking - how soon could they lose Miss Krebs?

I went home to get my stuff together and wash the limo. The next morning I
was out bright and early to get to the meeting. As I went down 101 I could
tell I was getting closer because the number of limos grew and grew until
the off ramp looked like a lineup for Oscar night! I found the hotel I had
picked out and got checked in there, and then went to registration. A big
area of the parking lot had been roped off for the rodeo, but more about
that later.

I got my packet and since it was a while before the opening meeting, I
thought I'd better take care of Mr. Steele's request first. I went to the
trade show area in the exhibition hall and browsed through the displays.
What an assortment of stuff! Besides the usual car accessories, they had
uniforms, personal protection devices, even a couple of gun dealers. I
found the display for the company Mr. Steele had pointed out and talked to
one of the salesmen. I knew where this shop was, and knew they did good
work, so I started asking him about privacy screens, like how much they cost and how hard they were to install. He asked me what year the beast was and showed me the different options available. Actually they weren't as
expensive as I thought, so I told him I was supposed to get this done as
soon as possible, and he got on the phone with his shop and made me an
appointment for the day after the meeting.

The union president spoke at the opening session on "The Chauffeur -
Expensive Anachronism or Cutting Edge Security?" It was pretty interesting.
I didn't know what an anachronism was going in, but I did by the time we
were done.

In the afternoon I went to another interesting panel discussion called "Keep It Casual - Waiting at The Curb" because I certainly do a lot of that! For the most part the discussion wasn't about how to look busy - it was about how to make the time pass better. I'll have to look into those books on tape.

After the session a couple of guys next to me started chatting. They got a
look at my nametag and saw who I worked for, and got interested in me. I
saw that they worked for one of these limo livery outfits. They asked me if
I wanted to go get a bite to eat with them, and I thought it might be fun to swap stories, so I went along.

We found a nice Italian restaurant nearby and had a beer while we waited forour food. Turns out my new buddies, Lenny and Frank, have driven for all
sorts of famous people. They told some stories that would make your hair
stand on end, and to tell you the truth, I didn't really want to hear some
of them. Boy, if only these celebrities knew how some people can talk - I
can see where The National Inquirer gets some of its information. They kept
trying to get me to spill the goods on Mr. Steele, but I kept putting them
off, telling them that most of the people we solved cases for were just
pretty ordinary folks who had problems. They wanted to know if I carried a
gun, which made me want to laugh. They wanted to know if Mr. Steele or Miss
Holt carried a gun, and I almost fell out of the booth laughing. Since
these guys both had union buttons on their collars, I didn't let on about
the kind of hours I work sometimes. But it was fun to talk to people who
can understand your frustrations.

The next morning the guest speaker was some yahoo who'd written a tell-all
gossip book about all the famous people he'd driven for. It was disgusting.

A lot of people thought it was great listening to him spill the beans, but
I couldn't wait for the naming of names to end. People lined up to buy
their autographed copies, but I left as soon as I could. Doesn't this guy
have any concept of confidentiality, or people's privacy? I know if he
worked for just one person he'd have found his sorry ass in court before

In the afternoon we had a pretty funny session called "Back Seat Drivers:
How to Handle Them Without an Ejector Seat". It was interesting to listen
to other guys talk about how they toed the line between being the polite
escort and wanting to turn around and punch somebody's lights out. In the
evening we had a mixer with lots of finger food and drinks, and I met a
bunch of nice people. At least it kept Lenny and Frank from buttonholing me
for gory details.

In the morning I was up and ready for the limo rodeo, which is really what
I'd been waiting for the whole meeting. The limos were divided up into
classes by length, and I ended up in the 'small' class, which I thought was
hilarious. But seeing as the beast is really just a large Cadillac, and not
a stretch like true limos, I can see how it might be 'small'. We went out
to the parking lots for a timed obstacle course. There were about 12 of us
in this event, and fortunately there were two identical courses set up to
keep things moving. It was a tough course with a lot of nasty turns. I
took out a couple of cones and that's probably how I ended up 8th overall.
I guess that wasn't bad for my first try.

Next came parallel parking, with two cars parked beside the 'curb' with just barely enough room to get in. Now that I could handle! I came in second on that one - I've got the ribbon to prove it. I wish I could have seen the stretch limos doing that event, but they were way over on the other side of the fairgrounds.

My third event was acceleration time trials, and that one really stunk for
me. Even on a flat out I couldn't do better then 10th. Oh well, what did I

I made a suggestion on my meeting comment sheet that next year they should
have a street event, either following someone without being seen, or losing
a tail. I know I could place high in that!

After the rodeo the convention was over and I got home at dinnertime. I
caught up on my mail and newspaper. Fortunately there were no messages from
Miss Holt.

The next morning I went to the Valley to the car shop for my appointment.
The salesman from the meeting wasn't there but they had me on the books.
They told me they would have to take the whole front seat out while they
worked, and it would take all of the morning. I found a mall nearby and
spent some of the waiting time there. I even found the library and browsed
through the books on tape, but I didn't find anything that jumped out at me
right away. After some lunch I went back to the shop, and they were just
about finished. The mechanic put me in the back seat first and showed me
how it operated - it was really cool. Then he sat in the back and I sat at
the wheel, and he showed me how soundproof it was. There was no doubt in my
mind Mr. Steele was going to love this.

A couple of days later I was back at LAX to pick everyone up. As soon as I
found them at baggage claim, I could tell something had changed. At first I
thought it was because everyone was tired from the long flight, but then I
realized it was more then that. Miss Holt looked like she had a force field
around her and definitely was not cozying up to Mr. Steele the way she had
been when they left. Mr. Steele looked miserable, and Miss Krebs just
looked confused. When we got out to the car I tried to get Mr. Steele's
attention privately to show him the new screen, but he was pretty oblivious. I really knew there was something wrong when Miss Krebs sat between them on the way home.

Wonder what happened between departure and return? I guess I'll have to
wait until tomorrow to show Mr. Steele his new addition.
To Part 19