Family Life came in the mail today, and as I was flipping through its pages, one article in particular caught my eye.
An Amish taxi driver (that is, an English person who drives Amish people) named Debbie gives a short account of her experiences for this month’s issue.
Unlike a lot of the fictional or loosely-based-in-reality teaching tales in the publication, this account is described as “a true story, by an observer.”
I read that to mean it is either Debbie telling the story, or someone who know her well doing so on her behalf.
The reason this got my attention is of course the fatal accident Monday involving a van full of Amish travelers. As Tom Geist noted yesterday, Amish taxi driving experiences can…vary. For better, or for worse.
Yet sometimes, good driver or bad, things just “happen”, as an Amish woman I spoke with about the accident yesterday stressed.
With that in mind, I thought it might be worth sharing a few snippets of an English driver’s perspective. As you’ll see from these excerpts, the job has its ups and downs.
If you subscribe to Family Life, you can find the entire story (“Debbie, the taxi driver”) in this month’s issue. If you’d like to get Family Life in your mailbox, you can find out how here.
“I am Debbie, the taxi driver. I take Amish to places they need to go. It’s an interesting life. I’m a middle-aged lady on my own so it’s a worthwhile way of providing for myself. I have problems with a sore back; I couldn’t do just any kind of work, and this is not too hard on me.”
“You soon get to know the people who are “regulars”. There’s one couple that always brings me a coffee when they stop for one. Oh, that’s so nice! I can’t afford to treat myself every time someone else wants something, but I sure do appreciate being treated. Especially with the aroma of someone else’s cup of coffee teasing my nostrils.
There’s another thing I’ve noticed. You’d think the people who are well-off would be the ones to give you a tip every now and then, but not so. A young wife and mother recently slipped me an envelope with a generous donation inside. I know they’re still struggling to make farm payments, so I really appreciated and felt unworthy of the tip.”
“Most folks are friendly and talkative. I’m not one to openly eavesdrop, but I do glean certain facts. I can tell you of some people who always have aches and pains (real or imagined) and never feel well. Then there are those who like to run down other folks. I don’t enjoy being around people who think they’re better than everybody else. They make me nervous. What do they say about me when I’m not around?
But worse than hearing people grumble or gossip is if I have no clue what they’re saying. Some folks deliberately talk German around me so I don’t understand it. Can you imagine sitting in front of a dentist’s office for a few hours with a car load of people and you are the only one not included in the conversation? Being totally ignored is not my cup of tea. Feeling like an intruder in my own vehicle, I got out and sat on the curbside, waiting until everyone was ready to go. Later I heard one of the ladies make the remark that I was rather quiet that day. Sorry, but I can’t speak German!”
“As I said, most folks are friendly and kind. I’ve gotten treats of home-baked goods a few times which I certainly appreciated. (Only, please don’t give me your rejects. One lady once handed me a loaf of homemade bread, apologizing profusely about how “hard” it got. It was hard all right — I threw it out to the birds and they didn’t even eat it!)
Having said all that, most days I do enjoy my job and I’ve made lots of friends. Yes, it takes all kinds of people to make a world!”
–Excerpts from Family Life November 2014 issue, pages 21-22
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You are an Angel
Debbie you are an Angel to many of these people, helping people in their time of need, there are often not enough volunteers around, I hope you are being well compensated for your kindness in time of need. God Bless, Ike
To Ike Klassen
I wonder if Debbie, the ‘Amish Taxi Driver’ deserves the accolade you bestow upon her. She is a business woman doing her job and not a ‘volunteer.’ I have many good Amish friends whom I truly volunteer to take shopping, to the doctor and dentist, to go to out of town auctions, etc. My friends in turn do me favors when I need them; we do not exchange money. I wouldn’t think of asking for money for driving them to take care of some of their necessities.
There are many ‘Amish Taxi Drivers’ here in Wisconsin whom I feel take advantage of the Amish by charging ‘waiting time’ while they conduct their business…which sometimes can take hours.
The time I spend with my Amish friends is rewarding in that it affords me the opportunity to learn more about their culture – which I admire so much.
I’ve been driving the Amish for almost 30 years now. Started off as part time evenings and weekends. I worked a full time truck driving jobs. In Allen County Indiana we have a large community of Amish and not near enough drivers especially during peak seasons like Christmas, weddings and Funerals.
When I started driving I wasn’t worried about charging much because I had a full time job. Over the years I’ve come to learn that doing it for free doesn’t pay for the expenses of driving. It’s nice that someone like you can afford to do it for free but I can’t. I have expenses that I cannot afford without charging.
You obviously don’t worry about being a legal Amish Driver. If you did you’d know that DOT numbers and Commercial insurance is required and putting 20 people in a minivan is not only illegal but dangerous. The Amish expect free. They want the English to cater to their wants for free. For example when I run someone to Walmart it will take 5 hours after they shop and eat and I get everyone dropped off. Most of the time my milage is around 20 miles round trip. If I didn’t charge by the hour I’d only make $20 for 5 hours of work. (Yes, it is work. My job)
I value my time. I have lots of things I’d rather be doing then sitting in the Walmart parking lot for 5 hours for free.
Go into a restaurant and ask them to make a sandwich for you but only be willing to pay for materials. They’d laugh you out the door.
Yes it’s nice to be a neighbor but they will soon take advantage of you. A friend of mine put a phone extension in his garage for his Amish Neighbor for emergency calls only. Started out as maybe one call a week but soon the Amish guy was using the phone as a business phone passing the number out to all of his contacts. So my friend couldn’t get a free line out for large periods of the day. People were calling my friend to leave messages for this Amish guy. Now my friend is his secretary. He finally took the phone out of his garage and changed his number.
We are Amish Drivers. It is our livelihood. Just as the Amish build a house to make money we drive to make a living.
Your comment just erks me. My customers call me to drive them and they know ahead of time that I charge $10 per hour waiting time. They agree to my terms before I drive them. If they didn’t agree then they can call other drivers that have the same terms.
You make it sound as if professional Amish Drivers are crooks but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Think before you say something you know nothing about.
I took an Amish couple (dating) 3 1/2 hours away one way. They paid for a room in a town close to their destination. This town had only a gas station and bar/bar food. I waited 25 hours (not including sleep time). I felt like a prisoner doing my time. The next semi small town had a McDonald’s And a Walmart and specialty shops. I’m on a tight budget and not much of a shopper, and being in northern Wisconsin, weather plays a part on things you can do. They paid me .65 a mile. Shouldn’t I have been offered or I should have asked “down time pay” and food costs? I’m new at this! Two days later the same young man asked me to take him back (it was his parents farm). And this time I waited 9 1/2 hours. I finally drove an hour and a half to the next decent size town. I enjoyed my drive with them, but should I set the rate , if so how much? Is long distance more? By how far? Do you charge extra for multiple people? How much should one ask Down time? I was given .65 a mile. And I spoke with another taxi driver who said he gets .75 and long distance more, that he ran 2 hrs one way and back got 400. He claimed they will try and get you pay the lowest they can . I’m so confused cause I was asked to drive to Canada. I want it to be worth my time. As in the winter it’s hard to get dressed for the cold, go start the car to heat it up, then go pick them all up from different locations, run home and 4 hours to pick them all up and take them all home. PLEASE Advise. 1. Should the rate be different from local to long distance? 2. If so what are the standard rates for like an hour as opposed 1 hour or more . 3. Do you charge more with more riders, picking up and then dropping off. 4. Should I ask for “down time? If so how much an hour? I mean 25 hrs was brutal. Please help a newbie. I like being a taxi, but I want it to be beneficial for me too!
Books about van drivers for the Amish
Some would refer to these vans as a Yoder-toter!
I have seen some book titles on this subject, but I haven’t read them. Van drivers and bus drivers should have some interesting stories!
VAN RIDER’S HANDBOOK, 68 pages, has a collection of experiences recorded from Van Drivers and Drivers from different states. (from a 2005 catalog)
DRIVING THE AMISH, Paperback – April, 1997, by Jim Butterfield, 112 pages. Readers are invited to come along with Jim Butterfield as he takes Amish folks on typical drives across Ohio’s large Amish country. This book shows their neighborly life, closeness to nature, sustainable homesteads, good humor, and peaceful outlook. Respectful color photos show the land and the Amish community.
Driving the Amish book
Linda, I bought “Driving the Amish” soon after God started my Amish taxi business. I bought it at an Amish grocery store just outside of Intercourse. He sure did have some good stories. 🙂
I read the article in Family Life and it is a good reminder to passengers. Many of us have our “favorite drivers” and ones we call only when we can’t get anyone else. Some people are very considerate of their drivers, others could use a good lesson in it. On the other hand, some drivers are very considerate of their paying passengers and others could use a good lesson in it. (Tom Geist made a good comment on the previous post — I’ll go there next.)
German/ Dutch? In this area most of the drivers speak & understand Dutch and it’s not an issue. One driver we like does not understand it and we try to consider that, but “Dutch” is the language we use naturally and I know we can slip into it while talking to our families & fellow passengers and not think about it. It’s not “deliberately ignoring” someone, though it is apparently rude. On the other hand, I work where there are people from all over the world coming through our business and I am not at all offended if they talk with each other in their most natural language. They are on holiday and relaxed and talking to each other — so why would I be offended? When I take a cab in the big city and the cab-driver is talking on his phone-speaker in a different language, I’m not offended. I’m in his car to be taken somewhere, not to visit with him. But I will try to be more aware that language use could offend someone even if it is not meant to. Of course this could be difficult in talking with young children who don’t yet know English.
I agree about giving rejects, but make sure it really WAS a reject. Maybe the busy housewife bakes a batch and it all turned out hard and rather than give up her kind notion to give Debbie a loaf, gave it anyhow, apologizing for how it turned out. I say this because that happened in our family a while ago. My 14 year old daughter made cookies and made enough so there would be plenty to share with not a driver but a non-Amish friend was coming to visit. They got harder than she hoped for, but gave them with an apology and our friend took them with a smile and said he likes to dunk them in coffee anyhow. Imagine how she would have felt if he pitched them in the trash as rejects! I guess we ought to be more aware of how such gifts might appear to non-Amish people and if it’s at all not tip-top not give at all rather than offend.
The nicest thing a driver ever did for us? Refused to charge us for trips for a medical emergency and follow-up treatments. My wife & I both got tears when he said we had had enough stress & expenses, he wants to help us out. A year later we got to enjoy the look on his and his wife’s faces when the ladies in our family presented him with a quilt for his “retirement” from driving.
Mark in Holmes County
You are exactly right!! I am noticing now that I am meeting more drivers from other Amish communities that we are spoiled here i.” n Lancaster County as drivers. Most of our “customers” are very considerate to us. They would never do anything intentionaly to offend us. At times when my people are talking Dutch its like you said, it comes natural. I have had people apologize to me for talking in Dutch for extended periods of time. Thanks for commenting and pointing out both sides of the “track.” I have learned a lot from our Amish friends and neighbors, but I think the biggest and best lesson I have learned is to look at things from a more positive and greatful manner. I will never forget one time my transmission went out in my big van. I felt bad becasue I had a van full of people. I started grumbling about it and Annie looked at me and smile then said “at least we are only a mile from home.” They have taught me to look for the good even in the worst of circumstances.
Majority rules! (especially if they're paying)
Great comments Mark. I enjoyed your look at the taxi experience from the passenger side. Somehow I’m not surprised you brought up another benefit of coffee 🙂
The comments about language stood out to me in Family Life Debbie’s account (I see I’m going to have to distinguish the two Debbies here 🙂 ). I understand the courtesy of using English in the presence of English people, and I’ve found many Amish to be considerate of this and switch to English when English arrive on the scene.
But this seems a different situation – the taxi driver is paid for a service, and part of the experience for Amish riders is spending time with one another in a social environment. I am sure that is something riders look forward to – a time to relax and enjoy time together, as comfortably as possible. It’s part of the value she provides.
I’ve never been an Amish taxi driver (at least not a paid one, I’ve done it many times as a “hobby”), but I hope I’d try to be as understanding as possible of that. But I’ve had a comparable experience, living with an Amish family for a stretch of two months. At that point you’re basically another body in the house, and people revert to their natural language tendencies–which I have no problem with. They’d speak English when we were in small groups at the table, but in bigger groups especially a lot of PA Dutch was used. And that made sense to me.
Frankly I feel a bit weird when I’m the only English person and I know they’re constantly switching to a slightly-less comfortable language for my benefit, especially if there’s a lot of people involved. Though, I certainly do appreciate the thoughtfulness when Amish people do that.
When I know something personal is going on I am ok with them speaking in Dutch. The other day I had people at the hospital, to see a family member that was injured last Thursday in the way home from a wedding, after their visit they were speaking in Dutch, and I had no problem. It’s when I keep hearing the word driver pop up that it bothers me, lol.
Debbie you’re right – that would be rude 🙂
I agree — it would be rude. I know the word “dreivah” sounds a lot like how we say “driver”, but it does not refer to driver at all. It would be used like “Was sinn diah am-dreivah?” or “So what are you guys up to these days?.” Debbie, you need to get the book & CD on “Speaking Amish” by Lillian Stoltzfus. Surprise and please your Amish passengers by talking Dutch. 🙂 It’s really easy to pick up. Around here, we just assume everyone local (Amish, Mennonite or English) speaks & understands it. Even our sheriff is fluent.
I can pick up words here and there. The Amish children we drive to school taught me some. When they say driver they say it in English for some reason. I will listen more closely and see if they are saying it in Dutch or are actually saying driver. 🙂 If someone is carrying on in Dutch and someone laughs I laugh too keeping them guessing if I understand what they are saying,lol.
I don’t think that speaking one’s native language should ever be considered “rude”. I’ve been in a few crazy taxi rides overseas where I have been glad to be able to speak to my fellow passengers about the driver in English, usually along the lines of “this driver is crazy!” or “does he know where he’s going? Who has a map? or “give me that 20-kuai note to pay the driver, they all seem to pretend they have no change here.”
Language is a beautiful thing, and I’m glad the Amish have their own. I’m a bit jealous: I think it would be neat to have a language just for family and close friends, while also speaking English fluently to the outside world.
Yes, another coffee benefit, Erik! I can come up with a lot of those, ha ha.
I never really thought about how it could make a person feel uncomfortable knowing everyone is talking English on their account but it makes sense. The who conversation changes tone when it needs to be in English because there is so much that can’t be expressed in English.
You’re right also about part of the fun of a van trip is time to visit with the people you are traveling with.
I'm Debbie too and an Amish taxi driver
My name is Debbie and I am an Amish taxi driver in Lancaster County. I am not the above mentioned one though. The other day I had one of my regular “customers” out. She knows I am starting to write so she asked me if I wrote this article that she read in “Family Life”. I chuckled and said no, but sure would like to read it. Thanks for sharing it!!
I have a funny story too. One time I took 5 women to spend the day with one of their buddies from their running around days (they were all married with kids). When I picked them up to come home they talked in Dutch non-stop. This does not happen often with the people we drive. Usually they are courteous and speak English. If I do have folks that keep speaking Dutch I put in my ear buds and listen to my music. If they can be rude so can I,lol. 😉 When I dropped off my Amish friend, she is the one that hired me to drive that day, I said to her “Rachel gossip is gossip whether its in Dutch or English. Her mouth dropped and her face turned bright red. She then told me in English what it was they were gossiping about. It was about the friend they had just spent the day with, and how they were considering leaving the Amish church.
As far as the accident on Monday that was sad thing. The people killed were family to some of our Amish frineds.
Debbie what a neat coincidence that we have two Amish taxi driver Debbies on the site today. I’m glad you took the time to share. It sounds like you’ve had a rewarding experience in this job.
If you don’t mind me asking, how busy do your Amish passengers keep you? With the demand in Lancaster for good drivers it seems like a job you could do full time or much more than full time if you wanted to.
We (hubby and I) do love what we do and our people too. We both drive full-time, and often turn runs down because we are already booked. Today is a rare day when we actually have a nice chunk of time at home. That doesn’t happen often.
My name is Katiland Wojtasik i’ve been all over this site to find no fields of information based on how to apply to this service, i live in petersburg OH, I have a mini van that can seat 5 and am in desperate need for crews or runs, I’ve been doing this for a while now and need more people, if you wouldn’t mind contacting me at my email or by phone 44-321-2856 that would be amazing thank you.
Question for Debbie
Do you drive John & Annie Esh on Summit Hill? I know they have family w/ the Esh surname in York. If I knew it was them I would send a card.
Sorry, my comment is probably really confusing out of context. I was referring to the van accident in York.
Separately, I would be tickled to find out that a driver for our friends was commenting here.
I am so bad at online communication these days. With three little ones, I am always either typing one handed or am distracted by some minor drama. I hardly ever manage to post a comment that doesn’t have at least one typo.
Your post was fine. I have been on the road all day yesterday and today and haven’t had a chance to reply. Presently I’m sitting at somebody’s house in Lancaster waiting on people that are visiting family. No, I do not know them. Summit Hill is about 15 miles from me, so I am way out of their neighborhood. It is likely they have ridden with me or that I took people to their house though. I have been on Summit Hill Road numerous times.
Thank you for your reply! It’s nice to “meet” you.
Nice to meet you too!! If you like drop by my fb page and follow my adventures here in Lancaster County.
putting in my 2 cents worth
i drive an Amish work crew weekdays some other runs on Saturdays. When they speak their native language it really don’t bother me it’s what that are more comfortable with and who am I to be bothered by it anyways. Love my job I do. Love taking them hunting and such. Not so much into the shopping trips though due to time involved and typically they do not want to pay for my time so I shy from those trips. I have learned things from the Amish though that I would never had the chance to otherwise and for that I say thank you. I love showing them the funny videos on YouTube from my phone, they’re like kids with this stuff laughing their hind ends off. The Amish to me are a very hard working bunch as well as followers of God and firm believers in family’s sticking close. Amen alot of us English could do better in that regard. Well that’s bout it for now. Sure I will think of more to say but typing this out on my wee lil iPhone with fat fingers is tough. Specially when you add in the auto correct. Arggg. Have a great day ya’ll, scott
Thanks for powering through that comment Scott, I know how it can be a pain to type on touchscreens 🙂 Your story about the Youtube videos made me chuckle, my dad used to like showing a couple of funny Christmas song videos to our Amish friends, the kids just loved it and asked for them all the time.
My husband and I drive for the Amish, too. I don’t understand much of their German, but there is so much English mixed in I usually have some idea what they are on subject-wise. A lot of my customers do talk English but I constantly find them slipping back to German among themselves and that’s okay: I am the driver and I’m being paid to drive them. Tips? Never. Gifts of food or whatever? Often, especially around Christmas (whole plates of saran-wrapped goodies carefully arranged), butchering season (Here’s some fresh ground beef.) and spring (Would you eat some fresh peas if I gave you some?) I love my job and my regulars! There a few I am not that crazy about, but I can always use their terminology and say “It won’t suit me that day.” when they want me to drive for them.
My biggest beef? Fitting in extra stops on a busy day when I thought I knew about how long the run would be. Another one would be carsick children, but there’s not much you can do about that.
Am I the only one who thought the Family Life Debbie was outrageously rude?
She seems so ungrateful and ready to criticize. I think she really needs to adjust her attitude.
Well, I’ll just say she seemed to have quite a few things to complain about (there’s more in the full article), but maybe it was a good as any place to vent (I assume anonymously; I hope Debbie who commented on this post makes sure all her riders know it wasn’t her! 🙂 ). I do like that Family Life Debbie was frank about her experience. I imagine Family Life printed this to give their Amish readers a look at how a driver might feel.
I tried to mix both positive and negative excerpts from Debbie in what I shared, obviously there is more to the full article but this gives a good sense of it.
Speaking in tongues?
I’m kidding…about the tongues…but I have experienced both sides of the “native language” coin. At the library where I work, a lot of Hispanic kids come to use the public computers after school. Often, they speak in Spanish (they know English quite well), which makes me uncomfortable. We’ve had a couple of Anglo, Spanish-speaking employees who sometimes translate (for the rest of us) or speak to them in Spanish, which surprises them big time.
Of course, during my childhood, especially at this time of year, my parents would “lapse” into Polish when they didn’t want me to know about their Xmas gift-buying plans.
I hope to read other accounts of Amish van drivers. I’ve often wondered about their experiences!
I’m happy to hear about the book & CD on Speaking Amish! I hope it’s still available…it might be on my Christmas list!
Speaking in tongues x 2
Alice Mary your comments sparked two memories for me.
1) My late mom’s family was German on both sides and so her parents both spoke the language, though they spoke a dialect known as Alsatian German & not the standard German that is spoken in most of Germany today.
She told me that when she was a child her parents would speak in German anytime they didn’t want to the kids to understand what they were saying. She said that they heard a lot of it around this time of year. Sadly, since she was born shortly after WWI speaking German in public was frowned on and was even outlawed by many of the public schools (and some private schools) in South Texas where she grew up; so it died out in our family almost a century ago.
2) My father was also from South Texas, too but only his mother was German so she had no one to speak it with & thus he never heard it spoken much at home. Though he did hear plenty of Spanish spoken because it was so commonly used in that area even back then. He never became fluent in it, but he could understand much of what was being said and could speak it to some degree. One time shortly before he died, in 1979, he went to a lumber yard to buy some material. There were two Hispanic workers sitting there on a stack of lumber and one said to the other in Spanish; “I wonder what this bald-headed (profanity omitted) wants?” So my dad read his order to them in Spanish. He said the one that had not spoken started laughing and took off for the back of the yard, leaving his red faced coworker to fill the order. He also said that he never had such courteous service that visit and on his subsequent visits to that particular lumber yard!
I read the article in the Family Life, but I was just amazed that they printed it. I suppose you are right, and maybe it was to show how taxi drivers like to be treated. However, I see in every Family Life the theme of being content and thankful. This was unexpected.
Personally, I thought the article was fine to be printed. No group, Amish or otherwise, is perfect in every way and just maybe this article will make a few people do a little self-examination. I understand the driver’s feelings about the language choice. My doctor’s receptionist was of a different nationality and she would chat to her friends in another language. To those of us in the waiting room, our paranoid natures would assume that she was complaining about us in some way. She probably wasn’t.
My son Mark's opinion on taxi drivers
I asked my son, Mark, what he thought about taxi drivers and rudeness, etc. Before he was Amish he did help out on a few occasions by driving. One time it was some school children going to visit schools in Holmes County. He was shocked when they left his mini van trashed inside. Candy wrappers scattered everywhere. Gum stuck on the side of a door. Mark wasn’t going as a driver. He was doing this as a favor and wasn’t being paid. He was not amused.
He has heard some drivers complain about certain folks in Mark’s community who give the drivers a hard time about the price and try to dicker it down. Mark doesn’t approve of that either.
On the other side of the issue, Mark feels that when he is on a van, the driver is providing a service and is being paid for it. If Mark is up in the front passenger seat he says he tries to converse with the driver. If he’s sittiing farther back and everybody’s talking Deitsch, he doesn’t have a problem joining in, as well, in Deitsch. The driver, in many cases, is not there because he/she’s everybody’s best friend. He/she is there to drive. The Amish should still display a Christian witness, though. But, the driver shouldn’t be offended if he/she is driving Amish and the Amish want to be Amish. Mark says he has never given a tip to a driver. The driver is asked the price at the end of the trip and Mark gladly pays it. He doesn’t know what the tip would be for. The driver was paid to be a driver and drove.
I have many Amish friends in South-Central Wisconsin and frequently take them to doctor’s appointments, shopping, etc.. In the many years I’ve known them I’ve taken payment only once, and that was because I used my truck to go to the lumber yard several times hauling scores of bags of cement and lumber to the site where the frolic was taking place. I also assisted as a laborer, working along side the Amish men when I wasn’t off picking up building materials. That was the only time I felt justified taking money because of the wear and tear on my truck, the distance travelled and the work I performed. I still felt a little guilty accepting the money though.
My friends know that I do not mind chauffeuring them where they wish to go so they return the favor by giving me baked goods, garden produce, eggs, etc.. My ulterior motivation is my wish to eat wholesome foods direct from the farm…
Ich schpeche bisen Deutsch und Pennsylvania Dutch, so we communicate on a pretty good level.
I am one happy man to be friends with and be acquainted with lots of Amish.
That would be rude to try and dicker on the price, but we have had drivers that gave us a real shock when they told us what our fee was. I never argued, but sometimes thought to myself this is a driver to cross off our list. One of those came back the next day and apologized saying he had calculated wrong and overcharged us. Hey, we are all human! I told him I thought the bill was rather high and he said I should have said something at the time. Well, I didn’t want to try and lower the price down… Most drivers have a set rate per mile and it varies whether it’s local or long-distance. If we are going on a long trip, we like to discuss rates, who pays for hotels or meals, etc. BEFORE we go. Saves any misunderstandings. 🙂
A trashed van? Where were the teachers?! Leaving trash in someone’s van is just plain rude. On the other hand, there is a big difference in how vehicles look when we get in. Our favorite driver keeps his vehicle clean and in good shape and also provides a trash can and is not shy about asking people to use it or saying he would prefer we not get take-out fast food to eat on the go. Another one has a van that makes you want to bring a roll of paper towels, a bottle of Armor-all and windex and an air freshener along. 🙂 But even though his van looks a fright, he is a nice guy and a good driver and gets a lot of calls.
The one really common complaint we hear from drivers we know? “The Amish Slam.” One even has a sign on his van door — Please Do Not Slam the Door.” 🙂
I have never had anything to complain about with trash in the van. I keep a 5-gallon pail in my van for trash and my passengers keep my van tidy, but door slamming? That’s another story! We have had to repair our van door a few times. I know they are not trying to be ignorant or rough, but these cheerful “Many thanks!” followed by the van door being shut with maximum force kinda get to me. I should take a leaf from Mark’s book and post a little sign in there to ask them to close the door gently.
One thing I do wonder about and maybe someone can answer this for me, is about stopping at restaurants. Some will save a seat for me and make it clear they expect me to sit with them, other times the table will be full and I sit alone. I’d really rather sit alone. That way they can talk Dutch and enjoy their meal and I can catch up on texts and have some “me time.” Do they think I’m rude if they save a seat and I say I’m okay sitting alone? On a long trip, I relish the chance to be alone for a break. Anyone have input on this?
How I'd handle it ...
I think that if I were in your situation I’d make an announcement before unloading at the lunch stop. Something similar to: “Before we leave the van for lunch I’d like to let the group know that I use the lunch period to recharge my own personal batteries, or maybe to spend a few minutes for business purposes … to check the voice mail, email and so forth for my business phone. Rather than be rude and do this in front of all of you at the table, I prefer to sit in a more private area so I can return phone calls and such. Not sure if this group is even comfortable if the driver sits with them at lunch, but it is actually much better and safer if I conduct any personal or company business during this time rather than when I am behind the wheel. I appreciate you understanding in this matter”.
This is assuming, of course, that you really DON’T conduct personal and business calls, emails, texts etc. while you are driving. If you do, this would give you an excellent opportunity to stop doing that. If you are straight forward and matter of fact about it I think most people would be okay with it.
Wonder how much insurance runs for someone operating one of these large vans. Do drivers have to have a CDL license?
The Amish Slam
We have the Amish Slam here in Lancaster County too. It would be our complaint. We have had to repair does way to often. We just bought a brand new van and hung signs stating no eating in van and please be gentle with our doors they are expensive to repair. Our people truly are enjoyable to drive, and with the exception of the doors treat our van with respect.
Insurance and requirements vary state to state. So it’s difficult to answer your question correctly.
want to drive for the amish - need advice
I am going into shoulder surgery in January, and I will not be able to lift anything for three months. My sister suggested that I drive for the Amish, and after doing the online research it looks like the regulations are obviously an issue and the PUC is out there to get us. I now drive for a courier company in Baltimore, I do a lot of van work that requires a lot of lifting, so I will be down and out with them for these three months.
I own a 2005 dodge grand caravan (can seat 7, so its not a big passenger van. I read that they are targeting the big ones that seat 8-15) which has recently been serviced and is in excellent running condition, but evidently the PUC requires a van less than 8 years old. I’ve got the equivalent of commercial insurance on it because of my job with the courier service, but evidently these PUC guys want to really rake you over the coals. To be legit it seems like as a private servce they want to make it seem impossible. Please advise.
You have researched it and seem informed. Just do what you need to do. We really can’t tell you how to handle and manage your business. If you work out of Baltimore I doubt you have Amish close enough for a business to be fruitful. Best of wishes to you!!
Interesting thoughts for a Holmes Amish driver.
The Amish slam … ha! 🙂
What about the Amish, “Oh, I didnt tell you, but I also wanted to drop by the bank, and the store a little bit …”
I have to say that would rather work for the Amish than any other people I have worked for. We get along, make trades (farm raised deer for a few trips, hay for a few miles, etc) and do favors back and forth. They may buy my lunch and I may drive out of the way a couple of miles without any extra charge. And a slab of German Chocolate cake may slip into the vehicle after the bill is paid.
To Alan Haines, about starting hauling for Amish. Here in Holmes County all you need is to move into the community and put a sign out. You can also find ads in the local papers every week to haul construction crews. You will need to be honest, morally clean, and dependable or you will only find yourself getting calls when there are no other options. I only drive part time, and have to try really hard to make sure it doesnt turn into full time with overtime. Mike
i am interested in becoming an amish driver part time. I need help desperatly on trying to find out the amounts i should charge when someone calls for me. i dont know how much is the so called standard price, for mileage or anything..could someone please help me figure this out,,i am desperate…thank you so much…..
That is not exactly an easy thing to figure. I charge by the mile, but if there is a lot of waiting time, I figure in some extra because I am stuck there waiting unable to be doing anything else. Most Amish understand that. Short distances are more than long distances. Local speed limits are lower than long distances making short runs more time consuming for the same amount of miles.
As a base rate, a minivan will go from around 70 cents/mile (higher when gas is at $4). A 15 passenger van will get around 90 cents/mile. (Again, higher when gas is $4) This is probably an average for the Holmes County, Ohio area. Other areas probably differ. Smaller communities have more drivers available. In Holmes County there are not enough to go around some days.
Also included in that figure is the fact that I do all my own maintenance. If you have to have someone do maintenance and repairs, I would say that the above figure is low for someone who hires out the maintenance.
I interested in becoming a driver for the amish
I need to know if you can tell me how to be come a taxi driver for the amish.
I do have a 7 passenger van and a 8 passenger SUV.
Any help and information you can provide me ? I love to drive and drove many years for a wholesale delivering merchadise to venders. Im middle age and think i would enjoy this job of driving the Amish. I live in NE OHIO.
Thank you for your Help !
I want to add that when I spoke with someone at PENNDOT about getting our PUC they were very helpful.
Thank you Debbie Kuhn for the interesting and amusing follow ups to the Debbie the Taxi Driver post. I don’t have much to say about this subject, but I really hope you stay on and reply to other Amish America posts as Erik puts them up.
Actually, I do have a question. If an Amish person requires the use of a wheel chair, even temporarily (after an accident or surgery or something), are there drivers who operate wheel chair accessible vehicles?
Honestly, I have never seen a wheel chair accessible van. They do however, use wheelchair accessible busses to get handicapped Amish to centers where they do jobs that they are able to do. I have taken people with wheelchairs before, but they were able to get out of them and the chairs were able to be folded up and put in the back of my van. I often see a couple different Amish getting around White Horse and Intercourse in motorized wheelchairs. The one gentlemen in White Horse goes to work everyday in his. It’s not far at all. 🙂
i need help trying to find out how much to charge amish should i become a driver for them. could someone please help me figure out the amount..
Look up :)
Helen, it sounds like you might not have seen it, but go about 4 comments up this thread and you’ll see one of our commenters who drives the Amish has responded to your original question. And I hope anyone else who spots this and can advise will chime in with a few words.
ive been thinking of checking into driving for the amish. im from the town of manheim i lived in strasburg for five years and loved the area. could you
give me some advise on how to start and if there is a need for such a
venture thank you.
I would like to drive for the Amish in adams county ohio but have no idea how to start. I drive for company now taking people to Drs appt.
New Amish Driver
I recommend you have business cards made for your new venture. Talk with business owners when you shop at local Amish businesses. Be friendly, let them get to know you a little. After you have shopped there a few times, tell them you are starting a business driving Amish, & ask if you can leave some of your business cards there. It is pretty common to see this in plain stores where I have shopped in many states. If you are reliable and inoffensive (not smoking, not cursing, not blasting loud immoral music, decently clothed, etc) then expect your business to grow by word of mouth and personal recommendations. I really enjoyed my time driving Amish, getting to know them! Being a woman, I was most comfortable driving women, families and youth. The “tips” I got were produce, fresh fish, venison, baked goods, cheese, invitations to special meals, weddings, singings etc- which led to many friendships.
It does help if you already have some friends or at least aquaintences among your nearby Amish churches. These often start at Amish shops or produce markets. Your new friends should be able to give you some kind of idea what is considered a fair rate to charge in your area. Rates do need to be adjusted as gas prices change, and also depending on the length & distance of a of trip. I often drove for shopping or medical day trips. When I drove out of state to weddings, funerals, family visiting etc, I was often provided accommodations. I stayed in several homes, Dawdy houses, on-farm apartments or cottages, & a few times my hotel bill was paid. Sometimes we arrived late & departed early, other times the nearest hotels were quite far away or extremely expensive- so this was very appreciated! Just be sure to discuss everything ahead of time, to prevent misunderstanding. At the same time, be flexible- I’m remembering a blizzard that hit us once in the mountains, and plans had to change. I always brought along books to read, local history/ travel guidebooks, & my camera to take nature photos in my free time. Blessings on your new adventure!
hi again erik and commenters when im in wi ive stated i drive an amish family around locally never have had a problem with any of them except for the language which is the penn dutch language i also stay at my teachers parents house when there
Interesting reading others stories. When I couldn’t find other work I decided to try the taxi business in NE Ohio. It was as easy as putting an ad in the local paper. Within a few days I was driving for an Amish man in the timber business with my small 2 dr car. Although the day length varied, it was generally 9-4 weekdays. He paid me $10 per/hr regardless of mileage (which was roughly 50-60 per day). Paid for my breakfast everyday at a local non-Amish mom & pop restaurant that had excellent breakfast. And we would stop and have coffee midday which he also paid for including tip. When gas prices skyrocketed, he also gave me a “bonus” to compensate. I was also loaned money to buy a used but good mini-van when my car wore out. I also received countless plates of cookies and pies from his wife (who is an excellent cook, not all are). In short I was spoiled in my opinion. I also did drive for others in my free time so had a variety of experiences.
getting paid cash on the spot and not having to wait 2 weeks for a paycheck.
I always welcomed the free home baked goods, fresh eggs, etc.
Having good “regular customers” turned into a mutual business partnership and in some cases long term friendships (including wedding invitations) that have continued to last even though I now no longer taxi and no longer live in that immediate area.
Flat tires!! lots of horse shoe nails and carpentry nails on the roads and in driveways (not intentional of course).
4AM hunting trips…long days,NOT my idea of a good time especially since I don’t hunt. The fishing trips where pretty fun though.
Long waiting times could be very boring. Bring a good book or a pillow and blanket or something else to stay occupied.
While most were respectful and tried to be fair and even generous, others where inconsiderate. Worst experiences were taking teenagers to youth gatherings. Start by taking 2-3, but then 11 want to all pile in to go home at midnight often times without even asking. I quickly became “unavailable” for those trips.
I should also add for people interested in becoming a driver, state laws may very. The easiest way to find out in my opinion is to ask people who are drivers in your area or the Amish themselves who also usually have a good idea. I did not have to have any special license, but if you plan on doing it regularly, you may want to find out about different insurance options. Where I lived, a local insurance agency had specific plans for Amish taxis which were a little more than personal use but much cheaper than a commercial taxi plan. Also plan on filing Income tax, it helps to have a log book to record mileage, hours, income, repair expenses, fuel costs, etc.