The driver thing is a bizarre luxury, that as a working actor, strangely becomes the norm. There are no cabs, or driving yourself and looking for parking (only to come back to a ticket for an expired meter because the appointment ran late — because, god do I remember those days). Instead, there is a driver in a suit, with a sign that has your name on it, and doors that are opened, and luggage that is carted, and waters and mints and magazines in the backseat. His job is to get you from point A to point B, sans stress, all the while being professional and discreet. Like the secret service — except they won’t take a bullet for you.
Back to Jim. Who is waiting in the wrong area at the airport. Can’t find him. Whose sign has my full name on it. Kind of a no-no (usually it’s just a first initial and last name, and just the last name). These are things that I notice, but that don’t bug me in the least. I am generally a go with the flow kinda gal, and we still have to wait for the luggage.
Then I remember that first impressions matter for a reason….and this is where the Jim story really begins.
He introduces himself, and says he wants to show me something. He then starts pulling up photos on his iPhone of pictures of himself with his cat. Self-portraits that run the gamut of him snuggled up to his feline companion to the two of them having breakfast. The luggage is taking a painfully long time to come out of the carousel, so I bide my time listening to circus of stories that Jim has to offer. The most compelling is how he used to be a fueler for the airlines, and would “never ever get on a plane again after seeing what really goes on back there.”
I look at him. “Jim, I have five flights in the next ten days.”
His face contorts in an expression that can only say, “You’re fucked.”
We get the luggage, push our way to the car, and I let myself in with the sobering notion that I five death flights remaining in the next few days. (Let me also explain that my hours of shooting have been brutal, so I am exhausted through all of this as well. I need to say that in an effort to qualify any of the jackassery that may ensue).
I ask Jim for a bottle of water, realizing there aren’t any in the cup holders. ”Sure,” he says, as he opens his plastic lunch bag, and fishes out a half empty bottle of Vitamin Water. He hands it to me. It has a distressed purple label, it’s been refilled with water, and he clearly drank half this morning. Probably with his cat.
“Oh, oh no — that’s ok,” I say, my big sunglasses hiding the confusion that has rapidly spread across my face.
He turns around to face me from the front seat. “Come on, come on! I insist.” I just smile politely and shake my head no. “Don’t be silly, come on. Drink some.”
And this is the moment where I think: “This is how girls get raped.”
My brain floods with scenes of Jeff Bridges in that movie “The Vanishing,” smothering some polite young lady’s dumbass face with a handkerchief so he could kidnap her. And while Jim is probably the most harmless person in the world, I come to the stark conclusion that I am not interested in either abduction or backwash. Not on this Thursday afternoon.
I decline. I close my eyes for the hour long car ride, thinking of patience and kindness — chuckling at the absurdity of this start to a press trip, and trying to practice grace.
An hour later he opens the door of the car. We’ve arrived….to the wrong address.