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.


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

PHOTO: Gold Rush at NAPA Autoparts

Customers at Napa Autoparts feasted on beed-on-a-bun

Social interactions can help limit possible memory loss

Seniors learned about the brain and memory at a recent Speakers for Seniors session

Water advisory in place for Bentley

The water advisory is in place until further notice

PHOTO: Bowling for a cause

The Big Brothers and Big Sisters held its annual fundraiser over the weekend

Feds promise more service dogs for vets with PTSD

Questions ahead as federal budget paves the way for more on service dogs for vets with PTSD

Few political staffers on Parliament Hill report sexual misconduct: survey

Sixty-five of the 266 survey respondents said they had personally experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment.

Experimental pot lab sprouting cannabis-infused drinks, new edibles

Nestled inside Canopy Growth Corp.’s sprawling marijuana facility outside Ottawa is a special laboratory

Federal committee to examine human trafficking in Canada

The Commons committee plans on holding hearings in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 63

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

Young Jersey cow takes Saturday night walk through Ponoka

Ponoka residents help police locate runaway bovine, which was safely collected.

Most Read