Friday, June 7, 2013

Bringing Your World With You

"Driving the Saudis, A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies and one royal hairdresser") by Jane Amelia Larson   Free Press   208 pages   $25

Larson doesn't name the family and probably changed a lot of the names of the people she discusses in the book. 

Basic plot:  Larson is an actor and independent producer and when the work wasn't coming in and she needed money, she turned to working as a chauffeur for a big firm in Beverly Hills.  After proving herself capable, she was assigned a huge job.  A royal Saudi family was coming to town for seven weeks.  The family needed 40 chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles (with the odd SUV thrown in for the help.)  Said drivers would be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Each driver had an assigned passenger.

Larson was the only female driver among them.  She was assigned as part of the womens' entourage and she noted rather quickly that the Saudi women came to Beverly Hills for two reasons - to shop and to get plastic surgery.  One woman got breast implants and found a bra that she loved ($500 per bra) and sent Larson out to buy all that she could find in every color that they came in.  Larson covered Beverly Hills, Orange County and San Diego and garnered 60 of them; a task she spent all day on, for a grand total of $30,000 for bras.

The princess didn't even thank you, a reccuring situation.  Larson came to realize that the Saudis were not in any kind of imminent danger from outsiders; the drivers and noticeable security guys made them feel important, special. 

Saudi rules are stringent.  All of the women came off their 747 disreetly covered from head to toe.  But:  when they arrived at the various hotels, gone were the robes and veils.  they wore short, tight skirts, mile-long high heels and, generally, looked like working girls. 

Larson worked her derriere off, hoping for one of the legendary tips Saudis are said to hand out -- as much as $20,000 cash in $100 bills or an extremely expensive watch or both.  She daydreamed about the money, but she was to be disappointed.

To ward off sexist attacks from the men, Larson had said that she was married; her husband had been in an accident so she had to work.  She was tipped $1,000.  The Saudis reasoned that it was her husband's duty to provide for a wife and it was her duty to stay home.  After all, that's how they did in Saudi Arabia. 

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