Driving the Saudis gives new spin to being a chauffeur

Other drivers should know better. First of all, they should learn to use a turn signal.

This week's read

Driving the Saudis by Jayne Amelia Larson c.2012, Free Press $25 / $28.99 Canada 209 pages

Other drivers should know better.

First of all, they should learn to use a turn signal. Then they need to be taught to stop tailgating, hang up the phone, slow down, speed up, or just get out of the way.

Grrrrrr.

Other drivers should learn that they’re not the most important person on the road. Or maybe they are, as you’ll see in the new book Driving the Saudis by Jayne Amelia Larson.

Hollywood did not love Jayne Amelia Larson as much as she loved it.

That was the blunt truth. For more than 10 years, through many moviemaking endeavors with a few small successes, Larson finally had to admit that the time had come for her to find a job to pay the bills.

Chauffeuring, she heard, was fun and interesting, so she applied for a position at “an exclusive high-end limo company” that catered to film stars, rock bands, and elite studio execs. It was interesting — and then came the Saudis.

The screening process to become a royal driver was odd and the timeline changed often. Several times, Larson thought the job had slipped through her fingers. Eventually, though, she was hired — the only woman in the line-up of drivers for Princess Zaahira (supposedly a favorite wife), her family and staff, as needed.

It sounded like a glamorous job but Larson quickly learned the opposite. While male chauffeurs were allowed to wear casual clothing, she was instructed to wear long sleeves and long pants, despite L.A.’s summertime heat. She was on call 24/7 for seven weeks and had to keep her limo fully gassed at all times. She was to follow instructions to the letter, even if they broke the law.

Yet, despite the annoyances, Larson found a silver lining in a flock of Muslim servant girls whom she ferried to errands and eventually befriended. Irritated at the princess’s multi-million-dollar designer-clothing budget, Larson reveled in the servants’ love of the Dollar Store. But despite the appreciation she got from seeing her life through servants eyes, there was big disappointment awaiting Larson at the end of the road…

What would it be like to snag a once-in-a-lifetime job, the kind of which would give you stories to tell for the rest of your life? Read Driving the Saudis and be careful what you wish for.

In a manner that reminded me of under-one’s-breath muttering, author Jayne Amelia Larson does a good amount of grousing. She’s obviously amazed and a little appalled at the behavior she observes, and she tries to share that sense of outrage.

But this is not just a memoir about a great job with a bad spin. Look closer and you’ll see that Larson has also sprinkled in tiny joys: friendship, small gratitudes, new delights, duty, and love.

Yes, there’s opinionating here, but this book also contains a good story. That’s why I couldn’t put it down, and that’s why I think you’ll enjoy it, too. If you’re tired of the same old reading fare, Driving the Saudis is something you’ll like better.

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Body found after apparent house explosion in Calgary, police investigating

Sgt. Dwayne Lepchuk declined to say whose remains were found

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Len Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

Most Read