“You just ran a red light!” No limo driver wants to hear that. It’s done. There’s no going back, If there ever was going to be a tip, it’s gone now. And now my passenger is fearing for her life, I look back. I’m so sorry, I say, She’s actually sweating, silent and in shock. I see her contemplating the door handle. I step on the gas to get us going fast enough so she’ll have second thoughts about jumping out. Burbank Airport is just a few minutes away, maybe three more signals. I want her out as much as she wants out. We both share that common goal. But not until we get to the airport.
I hear her on the phone. She’s calling a friend and asking if we are going in the right direction. Her friend is reassuring her over the phone and I can tell my customer has somewhat relaxed. She wipes away the thin patina of sweat from her face. ” I think if you go up this street, it’ll take you to the airport” she says, trying to be supportive. I can tell she’s cooling. I drive extra carefully, ignoring the GPS that is contradicting her. “Whatever she wants,” I say to myself. Having a sense of control calms her even more. She recognizes the area and knows she will make her flight. She is a mixture of emotions. I know she could call my boss and complain and that would be that. What do they do to drivers who run red lights and get lost? Probably nothing at the company I work at. But my pride would be shattered.
We turn into the small airport and drive slowly towards the terminal. How much do I owe you? she asks in a tone of tempered rage. I stop the car at the curb. If there is one thing that working with humans has taught is that no one accepts an apology, they only accept cash “I can’t charge you for this,” I tell her. The woman’s voice changes. She’s taken aback. The story she would tell about the horrible ride now has an unexpected ending. She is off balance.”Really?” Getting something for nothing wrestles down her anger. She melts.
I pick up her bag from the trunk and place it on the ground. She grabs the handle and begins to roll it away. Watch the red lights, she tells me in a strangely warm tone. I tell her to call on us again if she’s brave enough and she smiles. We have an odd moment and then she vanishes into the airport, her mind preoccupied with the day ahead. I hope she never calls again.