Driving the Amish

Posted on January 18, 2018 by LaVonne Debois
Driving the Amish

For over 30 years, I have driven Amish.   In fact, many people who are retired or just enjoy driving, take on this unique time consuming job.

Time consuming?   Yes!  There is no such thing as a quick trip to anywhere.  The rule of thumb is if an Amish person is calling you, it will not be a short trip.

Recently, I was called to drive 11 people to a gathering for a post Christmas Dinner. When the call came in, they ask where we are out of, meaning where does the mileage start.  I start from Berlin, which is a great central location to many of the surrounding villages.  They ask how many people the vehicle can seat. (Sometimes you will see one extra person sneak on and sit on a lap)

The caller may ask what you charge.  Then, you will need to know where the first pick up is which is usually at someone's residence.  Promptness is important.  Of all the years I have driven, I only spent $29 on advertising.  If the driver is prompt, courteous, and a  "good" driver, they will advertiser for you whether its good or bad advertising.  The word gets around! 

The downfall is being able to text or call the customer if you are running late or may not be able to fulfill your appointment.  There are, however, more and more people using a smartphone and can provide a number.

I remember my first job driving the Amish.  I found an ad in the paper that read, "Wanted... driver for work crew.  Must like mornings."  I thought, that would be a good job, I like mornings!  Once I called the number and heard back from the business owner, the first thing he asked was, "Do you like mornings?"  I said I did, and he said, "Good, the first pick up is 4:15 A.M.!   That was the first of thousands more trips and it sure was an education.  That job entailed picking up 11 men for three various businesses in the Charm, Ohio area.  Once I picked them up at their homes and delivered them to their business, I began for the second and third route for the other two businesses.  I was home by 7:15 A.M. I returned at 4:00 P.M. to start taking them home and I kept that job for three years. 

That job opened up many opportunities of meeting potential Amish people who would eventually come to be cooks for hosting meals in their homes as well as acquainting with businesses that would welcome me stopping at their cottage industry.

Amish travel more than ever before.  Not only do local residents stay busy with shopping, doctor, wedding, funeral and miscellaneous trips, local motor coach companies are swamped with requests for vacations out west as well as Florida trips.

I recall having a shopping route for 3 years.  Many ladies form their bi-weekly shopping trip with an average of 6 women. Every other Wednesday, I began a route looking for women standing at the end of their lane with grocery boxes.  We would make the all day trip to Wooster with stops at Dollar Store, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Kohls, Aldis, Beuhlers grocery and the social security office. Once we were finished, we would start for home stopping at their homes and taking off all the groceries. 

If a person or family has an obligation further than 10 miles, then chances are, they will call a driver.  Also, if they are planning to be away for most of the day, a driver would be most likely to be used.  Drivers charge by the mile as well as an hourly charge to wait.  And waiting you will have.  Many times, if the trip is out of town, drivers are invited to come in for the wedding meal, Christmas dinner, etc.  Schools also look for 25 passenger vehicles or 2 15 passenger vans to take the students on a field trip.  I have driven hundreds of schools over the years on their field trip.  Unlike our field trips from 8th grade, their field trips consist of visiting schools all day with sharing lunch at a neighboring school.  Other options include tours of local businesses that may give an educational insight to the operational structure.  Other businesses they tour are furniture manufacturers that may employ a future 8th grade graduate.  Some schools end the day at Burger King with a sandwich and ice cream cone.  When it is all said and done, we all need each other.  They need us and we need them.