The Car is Coming, The Car is Coming!

Around ManilaForeign Service Life
September 15, 2009

ford explorer

Awesome news – Our car has finally cleared customs at the port and is available for us to pick up!  After celebrating for a few moments it dawned on me that I had no idea how I was going to get the car from the port to our house as neither Nick or I are crazy enough to want to risk our lives driving in this city!  Since we’re planning to hire a driver in the next week, I had the brilliant idea of having an applicant drive it home for us on his “test drive”.  Am I smart, or what???!  And so tomorrow at 11 AM, the prospective driver and I are taxiing to the car and bringing it home to Makati.  Nick will be occupied with work, so this is one of those fun things I get to navigate on my own!

We were lucky enough to be able to ship our car overseas (pictured above).  And while this is a fabulous car for a couple, it’s not ideal for having a driver.  Can you guess why??  Most people ride in the back when using a driver, especially if 2 or more are riding.  I’m not overly excited about climbing in and out of the back each time we go somewhere.  Perhaps we’ll just keep the passenger seat permanently forward or see if we can take it out altogether!  It’s going to have to do for now though…

We’d like the driver to start next Monday, so I’m planning to do 2-3 interviews this week.  What does a driver interview look like, you ask?  Well, I’m not 100% sure so I’m going to make up my own version.  Typically, you offer to pay them an hourly rate to test their services (say $2 an hour).  During the test drive you observe:

  1. Knowledge of the city (Ex: Take me here and see how they do)
  2. Driving Skill (Past Taxi cab drivers are known for being particularly crazy)
  3. The Politeness Factor (do they open the door for you, help with packages, etc)

In addition, it’s best to do a verbal interview to discuss their willingness to be flexible with hours, knowledge of car maintenance and ability to understand English.  Since you’ll be spending a LOT of time with this person stuck in the horrible traffic, it’s best to see if your personalities click!  Finally, it’s important to discuss pay expectations and work hours.  Most drivers work 5-6 days a week for 12 hours a day.  In Manila, they hang out down in the garage area with the car, run errands and maintain the car.  When you go somewhere, they just park the car and wait for you in the car or hang out with other drivers (sometimes they have TV waiting areas set up for drivers at the mall).  They don’t tend to be up in the house, unless they are a live-in.  Ours will not be for this first post.

There is a huge viral network among drivers and somehow they magically knew that our car was arriving now.  Today, for example, a driver was waiting down by the entrance to our building and gave our helper his resume to present to me.  And last week when I was riding in someone else’s car, their driver handed me a fully-prepared packet of information that his friend had asked him to pass along to me.  So wild!  That doesn’t even include the 5 other Filipinos that have casually mentioned that they would have driver suggestions if I’m interested.  I guess this shouldn’t be too hard of a search…  HERE WE GO, wish me luck!

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