As a DC limo service driver, I have to be prepared for any eventuality:
- Brides who want to change the location of their photo shoots at the last minute.
- CEOs arriving at Dulles Airport five hours later than they planned, and still need a DC limo service to pick them up.
- Swarms of passionate people marching and mobbing intersections and blocking the traffic lights with their signs.
And, of course, the president’s date night.
I’m not saying I’ve driven the president’s limo on his date night. The president has an entire fleet of limos ready to launch from the White House at a moment’s notice. They take him on date night and to dentist’s appointments and to his kids’ dance recitals and all around DC. (And if, on occasion, the White House DC limo fleet needs to be supplemented with a few of our choice rides . . . well, it’s happened once or twice, and we’re always happy to oblige.)
But when the president goes out for dinner, it leads to some driving detours in the nation’s capital. Any driver for a DC limo service worth his salt has to be on his toes.
The entire street where the restaurant is located will probably be blocked off. Sometimes adjacent streets are blocked, too.
The Secret Service usually sets up a tent outside the restaurant’s entrance, so nobody has a direct line of sight at him as he walks in. But sometimes the tent is a decoy, and the president sneaks in through the back door or the service entrance. The staff of the restaurant are thoroughly checked before dinnertime—with background checks and metal-detector wands—and fellow diners are given the wand treatment, too. I have it on good authority (from a big-time chef contact) that the Secret Service even sets up shop in the kitchen, watching the chef and asking more questions than a curious four year old about all the ingredients.
We DC limo service drivers aren’t given any notice for these executive events, unfortunately.
So while I can tell you where the president has eaten in DC, and drive you there so you can dine in style, I cannot tell you where he will be dining. That information is above my pay grade. Even the restaurant owners sometimes don’t know until 90 minutes before the president’s arrival (at which point the men in black arrive and start creeping everyone out, until it becomes clear who they precede, and then everyone gets really nervous and excited).
You want to talk about unexpected traffic jams? Or closed roads that can change the whole route of your evening? I’m sure I’ve got more stories than you . . .
Success stories, I mean! Come on—I’m a DC limo service driver. I know my city’s streets like the back of my hand, and when a planned route closes off, I know just which way to turn to keep my clients running on schedule. Lost time is kept at a minimum. Dinner reservations are met. Flights departing from Dulles Airport are caught with time to spare.
And if all else fails (all else has never failed me yet), I do have a GPS with a “detour” button.