Driving Miss Vera, and how my grandmother met a hooker

Around 2005 I had a part-time night-time job for a while. It was, to say the least, an odd one with very humble beginnings. I lived close enough to where I worked that it became more economical to take a bicycle to work instead of my car, which left my car languishing in a corner of the street, only used on weekends.

I complained about it to a friend of mine, that it was a bit of a shame to pay all the taxes and maintenance on a vehicle you rarely use but don’t want to get rid of just yet. He mentioned that there was a way to actually use it to make money. Part time, he said. Usually at night. That should have been my first clue, but enthralled by the prospect of having the car pay for itself it went right over my head. He gave me a business card and told me to give them a call.

I called, and was connected to an older sounding woman, who asked me all of 3 questions. Are you okay working at night, do you own a car, what gas mileage do you get. My answers seemed satisfactory, so the next question was whether I wanted a job or not. I’m still not sure what we’re dealing with here, but hey… extra money is always good, right? I said yes. She asked me to come by the next day to sign some paperwork.

The next day arrives, and I drive the 15 miles to the address on the card. It’s a non-descript building, in a shopping area, nothing out of the ordinary really. However that all changed when I made my way through the door and up the stairs.

I was greeted with the sight of a room full of women who all had one thing in common: skimpy, skimpy clothing. I think the sight of me attempting to pick my jaw up the floor was quite humorous, but I did succeed and was greeted by the same woman I spoke to on the phone. She had apparently figured out I had no idea what this place was, so she proceeded to explain things.

It was an escort agency. The women that were there were students, stay at home (well) moms, and other average people from all ages and all walks of life. The idea was that I would register myself as on-call in the evening, and when an escort was booked it was my job to drive over to where they live, pick them up, and take them to the client’s address.

Not only that, I was expected to wait, and handle the financial transaction. I would then make the appropriate split with the escort, and once a week would bring the remainder to the office where I’d get my share off the top.

It was a bit much to take in, but on the whole didn’t sound too bad. I’d have to wait until whatever business the client wanted to conduct was done, so it meant a lot of downtime. I like reading, so I figured you know, I can just chill out in my car with a book and see how it goes.

Then I was told that I was also supposed to be somewhat of a bodyguard, in the event a client pulled something, I was supposed to rush to the rescue, and either defuse the situation, or convince the client it was in his (or her) best interest to cease whatever they were doing. By force, if necessary. Highly illegal, and potentially not something you want to get involved in. I’ll say up front I’ve never had to go past a verbal altercation, but since then I have always kept a little insurance under my drivers’ seat – an iron pipe.

My first day on call was rather bland, nothing happened for a while, until finally at 3am I got woken up by a call and asked to pick up this woman I’ll call Vera. Vera was not by any means a supermodel. She was in her 50’s, very average looking, but as I came to find out, was one of the nicer women in the group. I went to pick her up from her house, and she brought me a thermos of coffee, and some sandwiches to eat on the way. Which is how it always went when I had to drive Vera around. Coffee and sandwiches guaranteed. That put her in my good books, even though she had her vices.

I found out about those when one night I was driving her back home and she asked me to take an earlier exit, into a part of town you don’t really want to be in at that time of night. I did contemplate not listening to her for a minute but figured it couldn’t be all that bad, could it?

It wasn’t, but it was still not the best place to be. Vera asked me to park up on the side of the road, and before long two gentlemen came sauntering up. In hushed tones a transaction was made, money and something else changed hands, and off we went.

The first thing I notice is a very odd acrid sickeningly sweet smell. I’m used to the women smoking pot, I used to indulge in that vice myself, but looking over I see Vera is taking a massive hit out of a crack pipe. I didn’t know what to think, because as of that second my car had become a ticking time bomb, just waiting for a cop to pull us over and I would be in such a stupendous world of hurt it wasn’t even funny thinking about.

Vera apparently noticed my shock and unapologetically told me that yes, she has a crack problem, that she tried to keep hidden from me because (in her own words) “You’re a nice dude, you always talk to me like I’m a real person”. Ow. Right in the feels. I told her I didn’t really mind if she had that problem but that smoking crack in my car wasn’t something I was really happy with. I didn’t mind the going off the beaten path to buy it, though.

From that day on, whenever I drove Vera the routine invariably was coffee and sandwiches on the way to wherever, and a detour past her favorite dealer on the way back. She knew I didn’t smoke crack, so she’d make sure to top off my weed box every so often.

Another woman I drove was Becky, a 20-ish student who looked stunning, but had no substance to her whatsoever. Trying to hold a conversation with her was impossible, and invariably she’d get snippy and bitchy about just about everything. She is the only woman I’ve ever driven that has commented on the softness of the chairs in my car at the time. (They were soft, incredibly comfortable. So much so that I’d often fall asleep waiting for the women to be done with my phone on my chest so the vibration would startle me awake).

My second time driving Becky was terrible. I had just barely gotten back home when I got a call-out again. If I could pick up Becky? Sure, where? Not at her home. No, that’d be too easy. She’d apparently gone off to a client who had booked her so long that her earlier driver had just up and left, probably screaming “fuck this shit” out the window or something. So I was looking at a 30 mile drive to go get her, and then another 60 miles in the other direction to get her to where she needed to go.

Okay, and how long do I have for this? An hour and change. An average speed of 90 miles an hour. The way there was easy, the way back on the other hand not so much. Besides Becky uncharacteristically not shutting up the whole time there, she also was adamant that I was driving like a maniac, and that we were all going to die.

Perhaps we were. I would’ve welcomed it at that point. I then realise that the area I’m taking her to is very, very familiar to me. After checking the address again, the bottom just drops out from under me. I’m dropping Becky off not 4 houses away from my grandmothers house! Jesus H. on a pogo stick! What the hell…

Then I hear she’s booked for the remainder of the night and a sizable part of the day – and I can’t leave her there alone, policy wise. An evil, evil plan hatches in my head. After Becky has sashayed her ass into the client’s house, I park up in front of my grandma’s place. I only had to wait 2 hours before she woke up and I went to ring the doorbell. Her surprise at seeing me was rather funny, and I told her I was on the way back home from going out and was figuring I’d come say hi, and maybe, you know, sample some of her cooking, maybe?

So while I’m being filled with coffee and grandma’s cooking, not 200 yards away Becky is doing whatever it is she does (don’t ask, I know what it is… just, don’t). Eventually I get the call from the office that she’s done and that I should go pick her up.

Here the flaw in my plan becomes apparent. Grandmothers don’t just let you leave. There’s proprieties to be observed, ritual greetings to be spoken, and least of all, food to be finished.

The end result is that Becky, who by now has worked herself up into a righteous storm of indignation has spotted my car, made a beeline right for it, and upon seeing me trying to extract myself from my grandmothers house commences to stalk ever closer, probably with the intent of adjusting my ass-to-ear ratio significantly. That is, until she notices my grandmother standing there.

The end result is that not only did we both go back in for more food, my grandmother for the longest time was convinced Becky was my girlfriend. I’ll spare you the odd and awkward moments this caused at various family gatherings…

I refused to drive Becky any more after a few more trips – not only was the client she visited a regular – she had apparently taken my grandmothers idea of being my girlfriend to heart. This culminated a while┬álater in a near-accident where I almost slid the car off the highway doing 80 mph because Becky decided that fishing around in my pants would be a completely awesome idea.

The job itself came to an end when I sold my car, and bought another one. Where the old car wasn’t a total fuel hog, the new one was. American built V8 engines are not the greatest at being economical, and it meant I would’ve lost money on every trip. I still have the logbook I needed to keep, and some random trinkets. I also still keep that iron pipe under my seat. Old habits, you see.

Ben van Staveren

A somewhat odd traveler, wanderer, wonderer and all-around sarcastic pain in peoples' asses, most of the time. Keeps busy with IT security, random acts of geekery, and other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with IT, computers, or electronics. Can currently be found residing in Jakarta, Indonesia.