Where the Party Never Stops

Four veteran rent-a-limo drivers tell all

In this business, you get good at picking out the drug people. It's not always the stereotype. A lot of people think it's all about the inner city, but I gotta tell you: People from the suburbs are doing a lot of the heavy stuff these days too. One night I was dropping off a bachelor party in Maple Grove when I caught a whiff of this funny burning smell. I started looking around, thinking, "Is my car on fire?" When we got to Maple Grove, two of the guys were getting it on in the back seat and another one of the guys was passed out. As his friends were helping him get out, the guy dropped a curlicue pipe. I don't know if it was for meth or crack, but it really creeped me out. They were really aggressive, insisting that I stay with them. One of the guys offered me 20 bucks if I showed him my boobs. I said, "First of all it's going to cost you more than 20 bucks, and second of all, no." By the time I got out of there, I really felt like I needed a shower.

Drivers share stories all the time. One driver told me how he once had a group of about 10 guys who had picked up a hooker. All of a sudden, she started screaming and there was this huge fight, so the driver headed straight to the police station. By the time he got there, they'd smashed out the bar.

Another driver I know once picked up a couple, took them to dinner, and drove them around for a few hours. At the end of the night, when the girl got out of the car, she didn't have any shoes on. She tells the driver, "Hey, we have a little problem here." Driver goes in back and it turns out the girl's heels were stuck to the ceiling.

These days, limos are not only for the elite. It's something that your average person uses—you know, for special occasions, anniversaries, weddings, birthday parties, graduation, prom, Christmas light tours. Things like that. A lot of drivers bitch about Christmas light tours, but that's one of my favorite things about the job. I enjoy the lights as much as my customers.

The less you know, the less trouble you can get into

A native of north Minneapolis, Don Pukal is the quintessential jack-of-all-trades. He's a licensed private detective ("I do surveillance," he explains, "but none of the husband and wife stuff. That's bad work"), a landlord, and a notary public. But the biggest demand on his time is his work as the owner/manager/principal driver of All Day and All Night Limousine. Pukal, who is 44, got into the business at the invitation of a limo-driving friend who was looking for a partner to defray costs. An enthusiastic car buff, he jumped at the opportunity. "It seemed like a good side job—and a cool way to own a Cadillac," Pukal explains. "I never had one before because they eat too much gas. Now I can write it off on my taxes." Within a matter of months, Pukal bought out his partners. Over the years, he has steadily expanded his fleet. He now has four limos (all Caddies), two sedans, and a stable of part-time drivers.

There was this one guy who used to call me all the time at the last minute. I think he was from Texas. He said he customized motorcycles for a living. One day six or seven years ago, he called me. His wife and him were staying at a hotel out at the Mall. They were out partying and they got in this fight. So we went back to the hotel and he says, "I'm leaving." He wants me to come to the hotel room so I follow him. When we're in the room he picks up the mattress and grabs this clear Ziploc bag, which is full of money.

So we're driving around and he wants to get another hotel room. And I'm like, "Hey, we've got to get another bag to put this money in. You can't just walk around with a clear bag of money." So I stopped at a Super America and picked up a bag you couldn't see through. Then he says, "You hold it." And I'm like, "I don't want to hold it. I don't want anything to do with this." We ended up going back to the hotel where he was staying with his old lady. I was just glad to get out of there. Now I don't really think you're legitimately in the motorcycle business if you're carrying around Ziploc bags full of money. But I didn't really want to know what his business was. That's part of the gig. The less you know, the less trouble you can get into.

I got a four-hundred-buck tip one night. It was a last-minute thing—some guy from out of town who was hanging out at Schiek's. With guys at the stripper clubs it's one of two ways. Either they want to save all their money for the strippers or they throw it around. Anyway, this guy started out wanting a ride back to his hotel, but we kept going back and forth from club to club to the hotel. We went to Schiek's. Déjà Vu. Choice. And the whole time he was throwing money around like it was going out of style. Came at a really good time for me, too.

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