The Chauffeur Drive man has been loitering outside in the street, shielded by our hedge, for some time. It is ten minutes before our scheduled pickup, but when he spots me checking our car in the driveway for my sunglasses, he moves in.
He is ruthless, seizing our bags the moment they leave the house, packing them efficiently into the back of his limousine.
Some sort of plush SUV, all black leather and a good sound system with seatback entertainment screens. He tucks us in, and we are off. Next stop Tehran!
Well, not quite, but this trip at least we are travelling in premium cabins, and Qantas offers limousine pickup and delivery for long-haul flights nowadays.
Who am I to say no to a freebie?
Canberra is just entering the colourful stage of Autumn. Our suburb is full of old trees, and each year presents a glorious sight. We’ll miss the show on our three weeks away; the leaves will be brown drifts on the lawns, clogging the gutters, and reminding us of our own brief shining moments through the drear winter. But it will be Spring where we are going.
“Did you pack my toothbrush?” my wife asks after we have gone a few blocks, rather surprisingly. We are eight years into our fourth decade of married life, and never in all that time have we packed each other’s toothbrush.
This is code for “I forgot my toothbrush, and I blame you.”
Fair enough. When my wife is embarrassed, it is always my fault. I might be on the other side of the planet, totally unaware, but she will send me an email explaining why I am to blame.
I accept this philosophically. She married a graceless, thoughtless, obsessive clod like me, and I am grateful for it. Often enough the things that cause her stress are directly my fault, and even if I am oblivious, I feel it works out to a kind of justice in the end.
It must work. We are still together, off to explore Iran.
“They’ll give you another on the plane tomorrow.” Emirates will give us a great many goodies, and we will be showered with toothbrushes and other things. This is the reason that I have left the house with a tube of toothpaste approximately the size of a matchstick, the remnant of some long-forgotten Economy flight. It will clean my teeth tonight, and after that, we could probably surf home on a tide of Colgate in thumb-sized tubes.
Great minds drive alike
We exhaust the topic of toothbrushes and guilt after a while, and I stare out at the familiar route. As an Uber driver, I often take people to the airport, and I grab the suitcases and tuck the passengers in. I know every way of getting to the airport, and our driver is taking the most efficient route, minimising the number of traffic lights.
As a driver, when I approach the Canberra terminal, I’ll ask if it’s “Qantas or Virgin?” I like to get my passengers to the correct entrance, even if there are only twenty paces between the two. “Each second counts when you are running for a flight,” I say.
“It’s Qantas,” I tell this driver.
“But of course, you already know that,” I say a second later. When Qantas and Emirates formed an unlikely partnership some years ago, Chauffeur Drive was one of the Emirates goodies Qantas took up. They honour each other’s Frequent Flyer statuses, and, like my marriage, it seems to have worked out surprisingly well for all parties.
We are delivered outside the Qantas entrance, our bags are efficiently tumbled out, and I shake my driver’s hand for a job well done. None of this “Pop the boot and unload your own stuff after I’ve taken you the long way,” rubbish I see from taxi drivers. This is pure class, and it is a good start.