I’m now back from LA. Everybody there loves it, and frankly they’re welcome to it. The way that everybody needs to drive everywhere for everything is just not my style at all. But I do understand the attraction of LA, especially to Londoners who never get weather like that. One thing really puzzles me, however:
Why don’t rich Los Angelenos have drivers?
The advantages of having a driver are obvious. You never need to worry about parking. You never need to worry about drinking and driving. You can get as engrossed in multimedia multitasking as you like — you can even watch dailies or shorts on your in-car entertainment system while stuck in traffic. And: you’re automatically eligible for the carpool lane!
God knows there are loads of people in LA with more than enough money to hire a driver, but very few of them ever seem to do so. Any idea why that might be?
California is a young state. There are not many fourth generation Angelinos. Despite casualness about certain displays of wealth (their cars, women’s handbags and plastic surgery), they are much less class/status consciousness than in New York. And they are much more obsessed with looks, hence someone who is not very well off but gorgeous has a great deal of cachet, while in the East that has much less sway.
Having a driver would be seen as a statement of self-importance (even in New York, it’s not done. I live in 10021, the highest income zip code in the US, and you see hardly any cars with drivers. And the one in my building is Alan Grubman, fathre of the notorious Libby. If you read the New York papers, you know how grossly nouveau they are). It’s the sort of thing an agent might do. And they have plenty of valet parking. You don’t need a driver if someone will park and fetch the car. That’s the most important service a driver offers.
Addendum: when I say “car with driver” I mean you own a car and have a driver/servant. Plenty of people reserve a radio car. I don’t consider that the same thing, because the radio car is just a classy taxi at a higher price. It takes you point to point, doesn’t wait (at least for the vast majority of users).
Because they are trying to pay off their mortgages without defaulting.
It’s a power thing.
Despite the gridlock and frustration, LA drivers prefer to retain the captaincy of their ships. To give up driving is to give up a measure of authority and direct control.
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