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Bell’s Designated Drivers

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When you’re too stewed to steer, they’ll get you in gear. Probably.   By Hannah Wallace   I got a press release a few weeks ago that set my heart all a-flutter: A couple of Sarasotans have started a DD service—Bell’s Designated Drivers (952-9383)—comprising two-person teams that drive your drunk ass home, in your own […]

July 22, 2007


When you’re too stewed to steer, they’ll get you in gear. Probably.
 
By Hannah Wallace
 
I got a press release a few weeks ago that set my heart all a-flutter: A couple of Sarasotans have started a DD service—Bell’s Designated Drivers (952-9383)—comprising two-person teams that drive your drunk ass home, in your own car, when you’ve thoroughly imbibed while parked somewhere unsavory.
 
As the Guinness guys say, “Brilliant!” This, ladies and gentleman, is the definition of Hannah blog fodder. I set out designing the perfect plan to experience and subsequently publicize this inspiring new Sarasota business:
 
First off, I figured, it wouldn’t be fair to them if I hadn’t been drinking when I called.
 
Second, I decided I should park-and-drink somewhere I couldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) leave my car overnight. Seemed sort of silly to get them to drive me home from the State Street lot when I’m always perfectly content to leave the car there and jog back to it in the morning. Shakespeare’s, on the other hand, is not within jogging range.
 
Next, since I’m generally without cash, I did a little math beforehand to see how much I’d need to carry to get a ride home. Bell’s DD charges a $20 flat-rate fee, plus $2.50 per mile. Mapquest says Shakespeare’s is approximately five miles from my house. $32.50, then.
 
“Sounds kinda steep,” I said to CCB.
 
“You can compare the cost of using that service versus the cost of a DUI,” he suggested. Off I went to research drunk-driving fees at work. I love my job.
 
My math tells me I could get at least seven Bell’s rides home from Shakespeare’s for the cost of one DUI conviction. You can’t argue with that kind of sound financial planning.
 
Finally, I picked a night and invited along infamous lush (thanks to this blog) CCB.
 
We had to choose an automobile, bearing in mind that a Bell’s representative would eventually wind up behind the wheel. My car smells like hockey equipment. And CCB’s car smells ten times worse. The Seafoam Monster it is.
 
We drove to Shakespeare’s. Hours passed. Beers were consumed.
 
When we’d achieved critical volume, as per the plan, CCB selected the Bell’s number from my phone, hit talk…and suddenly thrust the phone to my ear. A rather infantile game of hot potato ensued. CCB hung up the phone.
 
Okaaaaaaaay, that wasn’t part of the plan.
 
CCB gathered himself (at my stern urging) and dialed again. Of the ensuing brief conversation, this is the end I heard: “[Pause.] Hi. [Pause.] Hi? [Pause. Click.]” CCB snapped the phone shut with a “well, fine then” look.
 
Apparently (and, I’m guessing, after caller ID indicated we were the earlier hang-up) the guy on the other end had answered the phone with an irate, “We’re not a joke!”
 
I fumed at CCB for not pursuing the conversation beyond that little, um, misunderstanding, but he countered with a fair point: “You’d think a designated driver company would be prepared to deal with drunk people.”
 
Maybe we caught them on an off night. They do, for the record, offer the same service to sober people, as well.
 
Anyway, I have local cab company numbers in my phone for just such an occasion, but fortunately, Little J and Big J had come to the rescue as our convenient back-up plan and proceeded to perform their own designated driver service—free of charge.
 
I do plan to give Bell’s another try in the future. ‘Course, my number seems to be on their shit list, so I’ll have to use somebody else’s phone.