How Retirees Can Make Money Driving

Retiree Don Dexter makes money driving people in their own cars around town at a reasonable rate.
By Ray French
November/December 1971
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Don M. Dexter, of  Bloomington, Illinois., capitalizes on a skill learned fifty years ago and used for half a century. A lot of us can do the same.

Like many of us, he learned to drive a car—his father's Model T. Others learned at the wheel of a Buick No. 10, a Maxwell, maybe an Apperson Jackrabbit. We all drove dirt roads, dusty when dry, slippery after rain, or hub-deep after a downpour. We drove the first loosely packed gravel and crushed rock surfaces. Those first paved highways were never over sixteen feet wide; some, only eight feet. Parking problems came later, but I remember we had to back the Model Ts up steep grades to keep the gasoline level above the carburetor. To this day, we're recognized as safe, expert automobile pilots unless our vision is seriously impaired.

Bloomington is on I-55, halfway between St. Louis and Chicago. Ozark Air Lines carries passengers to O'Hare International Airport and to Lambert Field at St. Louis. Although they have two round-trip flights daily to both St. Louis and Chicago, neither airport has good connections for cross-country journeys, nor good timing for transacting business in either city.

That's where Don Dexter enters the picture. Don will take anyone not only to catch a flight at either airport, but also to downtown office buildings, or to residence addresses in either town. He drives his passenger's car, not his own. By using their car, he does not jeopardize his personal insurance, nor does he have to pay commercial insurance premium rates. Under Illinois statute, he's not required to have a special license other than the one required of any driver operating a car for pleasure or personal business. His customers also furnish the gasoline, thus giving him no expenses other than his lunches occasionally. The fee he charges, therefore, is all his.

After taking his clients to their destination, he returns their car to their garage, and locks its door. When they're due to return, he meets them on their arrival at O'Hare or Lambert Field. He thoroughly knows the air terminals, including where and how to get a wheelchair or a baggage cart when necessary. He personally handles his women passengers' luggage from auto to the waiting room. He'll meet youngsters and children on their first solo flight, and see them safely aboard their planes either going or coming.

Normally he's booked as far as four months ahead. Limiting his fee to about $2.50 per hour when away from Bloomington, he clears forty to sixty dollars each week. Limiting his work to four trips a week, he's never too tired to drive safely.

He has a flat charge for the trip, with no increase for additional passengers. Two or more people traveling together thereby save a substantial amount of money, compared with the customary cab fares. As for him, he's always making new friends in serving his community, and always finding interesting contacts too.

A great many towns need such a service. Are you a good driver who can use some extra income?

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