Thursday, January 12, 2012

Giving Taker a Ride

by Dan Cunneen


I have played music for many years with marginal (regional) success. Except for a brief time in the mid 1990s, I was never able to make a living at it though. By the late 90s, I was still playing musician while paying my bills by working as a chauffeur for a high-end limousine company in Seattle.

The majority of the job occupied the dull task of driving executives to and from the airport, but on occasion I would move celebrities. Those jobs would sometimes make for an interesting tale. Driving Mark Calaway definitely fell into the interesting tale category.

When I picked up my paperwork at the office the night before the Calaway job, right away I noticed that it was a 12-hour “as-directed” run. It would be a long day, but it would be a good chunk of change.

As I stood in the office looking over the work order, my dispatcher eagerly asked me if I recognized the client’s name. “Nope, I’ve never heard of him. Is he the Callaway golf club guy?”

“No dude, that’s the undertaker!”

”The undertaker? Is this a funeral run?”​

“No! The Undertaker! The wrestler, man!” he said, as if I were a complete idiot.
At that point, the only professional wrestler I was familiar with was Hulk Hogan. The rest of the pro wrestling stars simply were not in my orbit. That was all about to change though.

I scanned the rest of the work-order and saw that the job was in a Cadillac stretch limousine (Great, I can watch some television or take a nap in the back if I have a chance). I was supposed to pick up Mr. Calaway at the Sea-Tac airport at 1:00 PM, drive him to the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver B.C. for a match and then take him back to the airport for a flight out that night.

Since I rarely traveled to Canada for this job, I headed straight to my computer when I got home to map out my route. While I was online, I did a little research on my passenger.

Mark Calaway was born in Houston, Texas on March 24, 1965. He stood six feet, eight inches tall and weighed 285 pounds. (These figures differ from his “billed” statistics, which are six feet ten and a half inches and 305 pounds.)

Calaway’s first national exposure came in the late 1980s with World Championship Wrestling, where he was known as “Mean” Mark Callous. In 1990, he switched to the World Wrestling Federation (later called World Wrestling Entertainment) and changed his stage name to The Undertaker. Wearing heavy black eyeliner and a long black trench coat, Calaway based the Undertaker character on a mortician from old Western movies. He was impervious to pain and possessed supernatural powers, such as teleportation and manipulation of flames and lightning. The Undertaker started out as a “heel”. (In professional wrestling the characters are put into three categories: “heel”; bad guy; “face”; good guy and “tweener”; in-between the first two).

After a couple years, The Undertaker switched to become a face. After the change, he became more popular, winning a series of high profile matches and championships.Later, reflecting the WWF’s progression toward a more realistic image, The Undertaker dumped the clownish mortician look and switched his gimmick to more of a bad-ass biker dude. His fans liked the new image because it was supposedly more like his real personality.

After reading up on The Undertaker, I was really looking forward to my trip to Vancouver.

I arrived at the airport the next day about 12:30 PM, parked in the garage and pulled out the pad of paper that we use to write the names of our clients on. For a moment, I thought about writing, “THE UNDERTAKER” on the sign, but decided not to. (I didn’t want the guy to get pissed at me for drawing attention to him. What if he started manipulating fire and lightning right there in the terminal?) I wrote “CALAWAY” on the sign and headed inside to meet him.

When I saw the tattooed giant with hair hanging down past his shoulders coming up the escalator, I knew I had my man. Before The Undertaker even had a chance to see me, I smiled to myself, methodically folded the sign in half and slipped it into the breast pocket of my suit jacket. This was going be an interesting day.

I inconspicuously approached The Undertaker and asked, “Mark Calaway?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” he replied in a gruff, scratchy voice.

“I’ll be your driver today, sir. Do you have any other baggage?”

“Nope, this is it.” He had a small carry-on bag that he was pulling behind him.

“Very good. Right this way, sir.”

I was happy he didn’t have any other baggage. When a client did have checked baggage, I would usually suggest that I get the car in the garage and pick them up on the airport drive. That way I didn’t have to stand awkwardly with the client and make small talk about the weather or their recent hemorrhoid surgery while we waited for the bags to come down.

The Undertaker followed me up the escalator to the parking garage and it was then that I got my first real idea of the notoriety of the person I was about to move.

“Hey Taker! What’s up, bro?”

“Taker, what’re you doin’ in Seattle?”

“Hey, it’s The Undertaker!”

Strangers called out his name at least five times during the hundred-yard walk from the terminal to the garage. (That was more than when I drove Magic Johnson and Kate Mulgrew combined!) The Undertaker was very modest and he greeted his fans warmly as we walked the car.

The Undertaker kept his baggage with him when he climbed in the back of the brand new black Cadillac stretch limousine. I closed the door behind him, got in the driver’s seat and off we went with a fat tank of gas for the two and a half hour drive to Vancouver B.C..

It was a hot and sunny August afternoon and I settled in for a nice quiet drive. After a few minutes, The Undertaker spoke: “Hey man, can you turn on some music back here? Some rock ‘n roll or somethin’?”

“Sure, the controls are above your head, go right ahead,” I replied.

He turned the radio on and searched for a station to his liking. Not surprisingly, he settled on the classic rock format. We continued to drive north on Interstate 5 to the sound of ZZ Top’s “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” bouncing around inside the car.

While I drove, I glanced in the rear-view mirror at The Undertaker. (I always tried to keep a low profile with clients – particularly celebrities. They don’t want some jackass driver watching their every move or yammering on and on during their trip.) The Undertaker sported a Van Dyke style beard and plain black baseball hat that he wore pulled down on his head, so that it barely covered his eyes. As he looked out the window, I saw that The Undertaker’s deeply etched face held every year of his 38 on this Earth.

I also noticed that The Undertaker sat right in the center of the back seat of the limo. Normally clients sit in the back on the passenger side, so his position was a little unusual. (Donny Osmond sat on the driver’s side, slumped way down so his head was below the top of my seat. That was very unusual.)

We drove for another thirty minutes or so and then The Undertaker spoke again. “Hey man, I’m starvin’. Can you stop somewhere so I can get somethin’ to eat? Like maybe a Jack in the Box or Burger King, somewhere with a drive through?”

“Sure, no problem!” I replied

As we were coming up on Marysville, a small city that straddles the interstate, I saw a sign for Jack in the Box.

“There’s a Jack in the Box ahead, is that okay?”

“Yeah, that’s great man, thanks.”

I made my way to the drive-through and I pulled up to the first menu sign. The Undertaker rolled down his window and a friendly female voice crackled over the speaker, “Welcome to Jack in the Box! May I take your order?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a Jumbo Jack, a large curly fries, two tacos, a large Dr. Pepper and a chocolate shake.”

The bigger the boy, the bigger the appetite!

“I’m sorry sir, we don’t have Dr. Pepper. Would you like a Pepsi or a root beer?” Sorry, Taker,, you’re not in Texas anymore. There isn’t a lot of Dr. Pepper on tap in the Pacific Northwest.

“Make it a root beer then,” he said.

“Okay, will there be anything else, sir?”

The Undertaker spoke in my direction, “You want anything, bro?”

“No thanks, I’m fine.”

“Nope, that’s it,” he replied.

“Okay, that comes to $12.20. Please stop at the first window.”

I pulled up a little further and saw a very sharp left turn on the drive that led to the cashier’s window. I looked in my rear-view mirror just in time to see a car pull in behind me. I suddenly had the terrifying image of a crane having to free the Cadillac from the drive-through's clutches.

Given the car behind me, I had no choice but to go forward and hope for the best. I inched my way around the corner and barely made it through.

As I drove the limousine to the cashier’s window, I rolled my window down and smiled a goofy smile at the cashier. I kept the same silly grin on my face as I slowly passed her by, finally stopping so that The Undertaker’s window was even with hers. When she saw my passenger, she shrieked, “The Undertaker! Oh my god, what’re you doing here?”

“I’m headed to Canada for a match,” he replied stoically.

“Oh my god! You guys! It’s The Undertaker!” she all but screamed to no one in particular.

At that point, I could see a tidal wave of excitement roll through the Jack in the Box kitchen. A couple workers converged at the cashier’s window and gawked at The Undertaker in disbelief. The cashier fumbled around her workstation and suddenly presented The Undertaker a pen and paper. “Can I have an autograph, Taker?”

The Undertaker took the pen and paper, asked the girl’s name and signed the autograph. The cashier took the autograph, thanked him profusely and then stared at the wrestler, seemingly forgetting why she was there. Finally, The Undertaker asked, “Uh, how much do I owe ya again?”

“Oh, oh my god, I’m sorry! That’s gonna be $12.20, twelve dollars and twenty cents.”

The Undertaker handed over the money and the cashier told us to pull forward.

At the next window, The Undertaker received his food, but not before being asked for second autograph by the other dazed worker.

I drove out onto the street and the smell of fried food started to fill the inside the Cadillac. “So much for eatin’ healthy,” The Undertaker said.

“Yeah, it’s always tough eating right on the road.” I replied. With that he started to eat his food and I got back on the freeway.

We had a smooth trip to Blaine, the town that is main gateway between Washington State and British Columbia. After about twenty minutes in line, I pulled up to the Canadian immigration booth and the stiff officer bid me a good afternoon. He looked back at the blacked out windows of the limousine and asked, “Do you have any passengers?”

“Yes, I do. One,” I replied.

“Who is your passenger, sir?”

“The Undertaker,” I said, fighting to keep a straight face.

“The Undertaker? Are you kidding?” In a matter of seconds, the immigration officer’s demeanor changed from a super-serious professional to a giddy fan-boy.

“Nope, see for yourself,” I replied and then pulled forward so he could do just that.

The Undertaker lowered his window and before he could say a word, the immigration officer said, “Hey Taker, how’s it goin? What’re you doin’ in Canada?”

“I’ve got a match in Vancouver tonight.”

“Vancouver, eh? Wow, I didn’t know that! Wow, that’s great! Okay then, welcome to Canada and good luck tonight!”

“Thanks, man.”

The fact that we were not asked for any identification or any significant questions made me want to find a WWE look-alike, rent a limousine and start a Canadian smuggling operation to make some cash.

After making it to the Pacific Coliseum without any wrong turns, my next objective was to find the performer’s entrance. I turned a corner to find scores of people clustered around a waist high portable fence surrounding a parking lot. Instinct told me this was the place, so I drove toward gathered crowd.

As we pulled in the lot, a security guard waved me through without even checking inside the car. (There’s something about a long black limousine.) I could see other wrestlers in their street clothes getting out of their rental cars, so I found a big enough spot and parked.

On an “as-directed” job like this, I didn’t care what my clients did after I dropped them off. In fact, I usually couldn't wait to get them out of the car so I could get away and find a store - second hand or adult book - to poke around in. Clearly, this job was different. I knew that the Pacific Coliseum would hold a uniquely enriching sociological pageant, the likes of which I may never have a chance to witness again. I had to get inside.

I stopped the car and peered back through the space that separates the front cabin from the rear and sheepishly asked, “Hey man, do you think I could get a pass and come inside?” Getting a pass was critical. I didn’t just want to go inside, I wanted to be able to get backstage and come and go as I pleased.

“Sure, no problem, I’ll get you one. C’mon in with me, bro,” he replied.​

The crowd couldn’t see who was inside the limousine when we pulled up, but when The Undertaker rose out of the car, a collective roar came up from the gathered throng. Right away the crowd was screaming in unison, “Taker! Taker! Taker!”

My short walk with The Undertaker to the back entry of the building was nothing less than surreal. Fans were reaching out toward us with their arms flailing, while asking for his autograph. I felt like the unknown driver for a big wrestling star!

We walked right past security, entered the coliseum and then Undertaker said, “Wait here a sec. I’ll get you a pass.”

He walked off leaving me alone underneath the seats that stretched out above me like a giant concrete accordion. I noticed a stack of programs next to me, so I grabbed one and stuck it in my pocket. After waiting several minutes, I got worried that The Undertaker had forgotten about me. Just when I was about to give up, a chubby man in his forties sporting a goatee, black WWF t-shirt and baggy shorts walked up to me and asked, “So, you’re Taker’s driver?”

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Okay, here ya go,” he said and he handed me a rectangular sticker with a WWF logo printed on it. In the blank space on the bottom of the pass someone had written, “TAKER’S DRIVER”. I peeled the backing off the sticker and stuck it on the breast pocket of my dress shirt. Now I had the key to the coliseum.

I wandered freely along the corridor that surrounded the ground floor of the arena. The place was buzzing with activity. I saw dozens of WWF staffers and coliseum workers talking and toiling. I eventually found a stairwell that led to the arena and went up to check it out.

I was surprised when I saw the inside of the packed coliseum. The wrestling ring stood unlit for now, but the rest of the building looked really dumpy and smelled like a stale old flea market. The facility was probably built in the mid 1960s – and it looked like there had been little renovation to it since then.

I passed by a concession stand and saw the typical foods one would expect at an event like this (except in Canada they have ketchup flavored potato chips and a snack called Humpty Dumpty Ringolos). Nearby, there was a separate concession stand offering WWF merchandise. I approached the crowded booth and gave the goods the once over. There were t-shirts, headbands, calendars, posters, foam championship belts, hats, action figures, magazines and books. It was a very impressive and wide-ranging display of swag. My personal favorite was the Undertaker plush bear, complete with trench coat and black hat.

After roving around for a while, I got bored. I wasn’t interested in the early wrestling matches, so I went back downstairs to check out the scene.

As I approached the staffer checking credentials at the entrance to the backstage area, I dramatically pulled my jacket aside and showed him my pass. He immediately allowed me to pass. That’s right bitch, I’m Taker’s driver.

Once downstairs, I turned a corner saw a wrestler hopping up and down and pumping his arms up and down, apparently preparing for his bout. He was a handsome black man with short dreadlocks, wearing a tight pair of trunks emblazoned with the American stars and stripes. He had huge muscles and his body was glistening with oil. As I stood there for a moment watching him, I thought he reminded me of myself. A younger, fitter, better looking, more successful and charismatic version of myself. So actually, he was nothing like me at all.

While the whole scene down there was interesting, I was getting hungry. I wasn’t in the mood for Humpty Dumpty Ringolos or Slim Jim’s, so I left the building to go find some dinner.

I had seen a commercial area a few blocks from the coliseum, so I drove the limo back there to look for a bite. I passed a Denny’s, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Subway, and Pizza Hut. While the ethnic Canadian fare was tempting, I chose a casual Chinese restaurant instead.

On the way back to the coliseum after my meal, I noticed there was just over half a tank of gas in the tank. I thought about topping it off, but I figured I would be okay for the trip back to Seattle. I parked the stretch limo in the same spot and had a stroll around the grounds.

The outside of the Pacific Coliseum looked a lot like the inside: shabby. There were several other smaller buildings and parking lots scattered around several acre site. The boisterous knots of wrestling fans that were on the premises - along with the peeling paint, broken fixtures and blowing trash - made me feel like I was walking through the set of a post-apocalyptic 1970s B movie. I had already seen Warriors and Escape From New York, so I went back inside the coliseum to check out the show.

When I got to the coliseum entrance there were still about a hundred fans gathered around the fence that surrounded the performer’s parking lot. Either the show was sold out or they couldn’t afford a ticket. Either way, this was one devoted bunch.

I went back inside and witnessed the next match’s contenders head up to the ring. I checked the program and saw that these two gentlemen didn’t have your typical wrestling pedigree.

The first wrestler, Christopher Nowinski, was a Harvard University graduate with a B.A. in sociology (he was billed as “WWF’s Harvard graduate”. Go figure!). Wrestler number two was called Bradshaw. He had been a college football player, but Bradshaw’s main gimmick as a pro wrestler - a wealthy, glad-handing businessman - was based on his real-life accomplishments as a stock market investor.

I had only seen wrestling on television a few times before, so I was looking forward to actually seeing a match in person. While it is easy to poke fun at the “sport” of professional wrestling and its fans, from what I had seen in the past, they put on a good show.

Not tonight.

I knew right away when I re-entered the arena that this event definitely would not be televised - and probably not even filmed. It was nothing like I had expected. There was a definite lack of production value. The whole set consisted of the wrestling ring and perhaps fifty klieg lights arranged in a square above it. In addition, there were four manned spotlights inside steel cages attached to ceiling.

That was it?

Where were the strobe lights and fog? Where was the ramp that the star wrestler rode his Harley down to the ring on? Where were the devil’s head set pieces that spat fire? All that stuff was probably still in the semi-trucks that sat in the parking lot, waiting to be used for a televised event.

I stood in a roped off area about 20 yards away from the ring when Bradshaw, accompanied by four B.C. Lions football players, pulled the ropes apart and entered the ring,. (Nowinski entered with far less fanfare, probably because he was the heel.) During the pre-match insult exchange, Bradshaw cut down Nowinski’s Harvard football team and Nowinski shot back with put-downs about Bradshaw’s manhood – specifically his lack thereof. (I waited for Nowinski to mock Bradshaw for his lack of investment acumen, but it never happened.)

The next thirty minutes or so consisted of the two wrestlers punching, poking and grabbing each other in a variety of moves. Eventually Bradshaw pinned Nowinski to the mat and won the match. Afterward, the B.C. Lions football players returned to the ring and celebrated by drinking a beer with him, much to the crowd’s delight. After the match ended, I went back to the parking lot.

I fired up the limousine up to get the air conditioning going and made a couple phone calls. I hung up the phone and noticed an attractive and busty young woman in her late twenties waving at me. She had long bleached blonde hair and wore a tight pair of cut-offs and a Harley-Davidson t-shirt knotted at the waist and exposing her midriff. I figured she was going to ask if she could meet The Undertaker and for a brief moment I imagined myself as the scheming roadie backstage at a rock concert. “Well honey, if you wanna meet The Undertaker you’re gonna have to do a little something for me first.”

I snapped out of my lurid daydream and lowered my window, “Yes?”

“Uh, yeah, so you’re Taker’s driver, eh?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied solemnly.

“I have some gifts for The Undertaker,” she said holding up a brown paper bag, “Can you give ‘em to him for me?”

At this point, judging from the fanatical crowd gathered around me, I was a little worried about what sort of gifts they might be. I had images of anything from a fresh-baked Vanilla Wafer cake to a vial filled with her blood.

“Well, it depends. What are the gifts?” I asked.

“It’s just some t-shirts for Taker, is all,” she replied.

“Oh, sure, I can do that. No problem.”

I got out of the car and she handed me the bag. I opened it up to check the contents. Sure enough, there were two black t-shirts with Harley-Davidson graphics on them. I stuffed the shirts back into the bag, tossed it on the front passenger seat of the limousine and told her I’d give them to The Undertaker.

The girl had broken the ice, so some of the other fans gathered around and started asking me questions.

A tall nerdy looking guy that looked about 40 year old asked, “Hey man, what’s Taker like? Is he cool?”

“Yeah, he’s a really down to earth guy. He even offered to pay for my lunch today, but I wasn’t hungry,” I said.

Another guy asked me how I got the job. I told him I just applied for it, ominously adding, “There were a series of extensive background checks (employment application) and special training (Washington State driver’s license) involved during the whole process.” He was duly impressed with my puffery.

I noticed a kid wearing an Undertaker t-shirt at the edge of the group. He looked about 10 years old and it seemed like he wanted to ask me a question. I smiled at him and that was his opening. Suddenly he blurted out. “So, you’re Taker’s driver?”

“Yes I am,” I replied.

The kid’s eyes widened and he looked at me in awe and said, “Wow!”

Quit college to play drums in a punk band, kid and one day you could have a job like mine.

I hung around the lot chatting with the fans for a little while longer an then went back in the coliseum.

Once inside the bowels of the arena, I could hear the screaming crowd above me. I figured the show was heating up, so I quickly went back up to watch more action. I entered the arena just as the announcer was introducing the next match.

“Ladies and gentleman, here he is, all the way from Blackpool, England, William Regal!”

Mr. Regal jumped into the ring and immediately a chorus of boos rose up from the crowd. Regal sported a crew cut and an odd-looking old-school pair of trunks. He appeared to be about 40 years old and he was not in the best shape. He definitely had the red, pockmarked face of a man that had seen the inside of many a pub.

Regal drank in the torrent of catcalls that rained down upon him as he strutted around the ring with his head held high. After a few moments, he grabbed the microphone from the announcer and sneered at the crowd in a thick English accent, “Ah, Canada…the only good things in this God forsaken country came from England!” More howls of fury erupted from the audience and he further goaded his detractors, “You Canadians have always been a disgrace to the Commonwealth!” I laughed aloud at this one. It looked like Mr. Regal would be playing the heel tonight.

After a few more insults directed at his Canadian hosts, Regal handed the microphone back to the announcer who then introduced Regal’s opponent, “And in this corner, hailing from Harlem, New York, the one, the only, Booker T!”

The oily dude I had seen warming up earlier came running down the aisle toward the ring. With his patriotic trunks and million-dollar smile, Booker T spread the ropes apart and jumped into the ring to universal cheers from the crowd. He raised his arms triumphantly over his head and bounced around the ring while pumping his fists in the air. The crowd loved him.

The announcer gave Booker T the microphone and the wrestler proceeded to say some very nice things about Canada (beautiful, friendly, etc.) and some not very nice things about William Regal (ugly, unfriendly, etc.). The verbal abuse served its purpose well by getting the audience even more primed for the match.

The bout began with the “ring” of a pre-recorded bell and the wrestlers were out of their corners and at each other. I don’t know the proper names of the moves they were pulling, but it all looked quite choreographed from where I was standing. My guess is that very few people in the audience actually believed what they were seeing was real either. Just like the discriminating audience at a performance of Starlight Express, I’m sure this crowd knew this was all theater.

After about 30 minutes of action, Booker T won the match by unceremoniously pinning Regal. Booker T’s triumph was punctuated with three hard slaps to the canvas by the referee and loud cheers of approval form the crowd.

According to the program, the next match was the main event, The Undertaker and Ric Flair versus The Big Show and Eddy Guerrero.

While I was interested in watching The Undertaker wrestle, I really needed to be near the limousine when The Undertaker came out, so I went back outside to wait.

Night had fallen when I walked out the backstage door. There were still a lot people hanging around the fence that surrounded the lot. As I walked back to the limo, I could hear hoots and hollers coming from various points around the grounds. It sounds like the booze, pot and crystal meth were really kicking in.

I got to the limousine and saw the same kid that had asked me if I was The Undertaker’s driver standing on the other side of the fence near the limousine. I walked closer and he asked, “So, do you like Taker?”

“Yeah, he’s a nice guy. He’s kinda quiet and he eats a lot.” I went on to describe The Undertaker’s Jack in the Box meal.

“Wow! That’s a lot a food!” he said breathlessly. The kid pointed to the pass that was poking out from behind my suit jacket and asked, “What’s that?”

I pulled my jacket back to show him the pass and replied, “That’s a backstage pass. It shows that I’m The Undertaker’s driver and it allows me to go inside the coliseum and backstage.”

“Wow! Cool!” he gushed

“Ya know, the show’s almost over, so I don’t need it anymore. Do you want it?” As the words left my lips, I realized that the kid might try to use the pass to get inside, so I quickly added, “But you have to promise me you won’t try to use it. It’s just a souvenir, okay?” I decided to throw a little threat in to drive my point home, “I’m gonna be right here, so I’ll know if you try to get in and if you do, you’ll get in big trouble, understand?”

The look of awe on the kid’s face was priceless. It was as if I had handed Rush Limbaugh a video of Barack and Michelle Obama snorting coke.

I pulled the pass from my shirt and handed it to him. “Really? I can have it? Okay, okay, I promise I won’t go in. Thanks mister!”

Some of the other fans gathered around to look at the kid’s prize and he showed it off with delight.

I sat in the car doing nothing for a while as the other wrestlers slowly filtered out of the arena to the fan's cheers. When I heard an extra loud roar from the crowd, I knew that The Undertaker was on his way. I got out of the car in time to see the six foot eight inch giant making a beeline straight for the Cadillac.

Fans called out his name as he approached the stretch limo. He waved to his people and then fell in the limousine’s open door. I closed the door behind him, got in the driver’s seat and then turned to The Undertaker, “Back to Seattle, sir?”

“Yeah man. Thanks.”

I peeked at The Undertaker’s in the rear view mirror as I steered the car out of the parking lot. His hair was wet, as if he had taken a shower and his face looked a little flush. I was sure he had quite a work out.

We headed out to the highway and I suddenly got the urge to ask him a question. “So, did you win?”

“What? Oh, yeah, I won,” he answered, with a crusty chuckle.

“Cool!”

We drove in silence through the warm summer night until we got to the border crossing. By this time, it was late, so the line waiting to get into the U.S. was short. I pulled the limousine up to the window and handed the guard my driver’s license. He studied it for a moment, handed it back to me and asked, “Do you have any passengers, sir?”

“Just one. The Undertaker,” I replied.

“The Undertaker? Are you serious?” Just like the immigration officer on our way in to Canada, the American's manner totally changed.

“Yes, I’m serious,” I replied soberly.

I moved the car forward, so the limo's back window was even with the officer. He instantly started gushing, “Wow, Taker! It’s great to meet ‘ya! What were you doin’ in Canada?

“I had a match up here and now I’m headin’ back to the airport in Seattle.”

“All right! Well, take it easy, Taker!”

As I pulled away from the window, I glanced at the Cadillac’s gas gauge and a shiver ran through my body. The tank was now under half full. It looked like I had made a mistake by not getting gas in Vancouver when I had the chance.

A chauffeur’s goal is to make the client’s trip as uneventful as possible. That means don’t be late, don’t get lost, don’t speak to the client (unless spoken to), don’t get in an accident, don’t run out of gas and don’t stop for gas. (The last two can be somewhat of a Catch-22, but thankfully, up to that point, I never had to worry about it.)

For the next 100 miles, I constantly checked the digital gas gauge, watching with dismay as each blue-green LED bar on it disappeared. Now a fun day in Vancouver had turned into a stressful trip back to Seattle.

After we had driven for little over an hour, I was jerked to attention by a loud and long beeping sound. I checked the dashboard and saw a blinking “50 MILES TO EMPTY” signal. I was about 35 miles outside Seattle, so I decided to keep going.

The next alarm went off a little sooner than I expected. The limousine now told me I had 25 miles to empty and there was a single forlorn blue-green digital bar left on the gas gauge. It was going to be very tight, but I carried on.

I followed the interstate as it curved westward toward the airport, hoping that I wouldn’t end up stuck on the side of the road with pissed off Undertaker. There was no stopping me now, so I kept my foot on the gas pedal. Mercifully, the car made it to the departure drive.

I stopped the limousine in front of the United Airlines entrance and hopped out to open the door for The Undertaker. He lumbered out, shook my hand and said, “Thanks, man, have a good night”. Within seconds, I heard two porters called out his name.

I got back behind the wheel and drove straight to the nearest gas station. After filling up, I went back to the office to dump the car.

It had been a long and memorable day and even though I did a good deed by giving my backstage pass to the kid, I was bummed I didn’t have a something to show for it.

As I gathered up my things from the front cabin of the stretch, I noticed the brown paper bag on the floor. It turns out I did have a souvenir of my trip after all. I had completely forgotten to give the Undertaker his Harley-Davidson t-shirts.

I felt bad about forgetting the gift from The Undertaker's fan, but there was nothing I could do. I tried on one of the t-shirts when I got home. It hung down past my knees.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you should make a book about this because its so cool.

HindLoveSrk said...

This Is Sooooooo Cool You're Soooooo Lucky :D I Love UNDERTAKER lOTTTTTTTS

Anonymous said...

Why'd you forget to give him the shirts you prick? Those were for him, not you!!!!

Anonymous said...

much of what the wrestlers do is planned but they get hurt alot of the time whether you or anybody else thinks so

Anonymous said...

Yeah, fucker! You should try making your own shirts, then you'll know how much you ripped him off, you stealer. Stealer! That should be your WWF name, you poosy.