At the Starbucks on the Cahuenga overpass, just down the hill from Universal Studios, a woman in a tailored suit and cap sits beside me reading a book. She glances at her watch and asks me if I know how to get to an address in the odd patchwork of streets nestled in the hills below the Hollywood sign. She is a chauffeur for a limousine service and has to pick up a client, who is a movie industry executive.
“People find it unusual that a woman is a chauffeur,” she tells me. “And it is unusual. A lot of women clients ask for me specifically because of that.”
She is in her late 30s, or maybe early 40s, and never intended to become a chauffeur. But she never intended her husband to die of cancer either. That happened in the past year.
[pullquote]She never intended to become chauffeur. But she never intended her husband to die of cancer either.[/pullquote]
He was much older than her, and wealthy. But the illness took away a lot of the wealth, and lawyers took away a big chunk of the rest after a nasty fight with her relatives over his estate.
From her telling, I interpret that many legal papers were too casually signed when her attention was focused on relieving her husband’s pain during his downward spiral.
“Chauffeuring is a good job,” she says. “There is a lot of work, if you hustle. But it’s tiring too.”
She cared for her husband through his illness and death. She says she does not regret marrying a man several decades older because he had a fire for that life that made his age irrelevant. “He is the smartest person I’ve ever met, and he taught many things,” she says.
Still, she is at loose ends. In the past, she has been a professional sculptor and writer. Now she is looking into getting into a training program to be a certified financial planner. “It’s good to know about money,” she says, and heads out to pick up her fare.