Arthur “Skip” Budge retired from the Plymouth, MA Police Department about five years ago. He now drives cars to vacation homes for his many clients. It’s a “sweet life” says Budge. His story is the latest in our series of interesting baby boomer profiles as told to Patricia Kennedy. If you know a boomer retirement we should know about tell us via the Contact Us link.
I retired after twenty-eight years on the Plymouth, MA police force. Being a police officer was a great career, but I started on the force when I was twenty years old and it was all I knew. I really wanted time to travel and take advantage of opportunities to experience how other people live. I never realized just how much my world was going to expand and how much I would love my new freedom.
My wife and I decided that it was going to be OK to take my pension and retire. But I learned pretty quickly that I wouldn’t be satisfied just sitting around with nothing set to do, and that we really needed the extra dollars to supplement my pension. Before the first year was out, I agreed to drive some friends’ cars back and forth to Florida –for something to do and to earn those extra dollars. I found that I really enjoyed the driving and helping people with a chore that they didn’t want to do themselves. People who live in the New England states get pretty tired of winter, especially as they get older. And, many of them don’t really want to make that long drive themselves. Fortunately, I really like to drive. By year two, I was in business.
Fifty-One Trips Back and Forth to Florida
The first year I drove, I made fifteen trips. Last year, my fifth, I completed fifty-one, one-way trips delivering cars for customers. It seems like I could grow the business indefinitely because I get new inquiries almost weekly. As it is now, I’m pretty busy from October through May. The rest of the time I help out at a local golf course and play as much free golf as I want. I’m fighting hard to keep that time available for our personal travel.
Because I live in New England there’s a huge population that goes to Florida for the winter, and many people don’t want to drive their own car. I don’t have to do any marketing at all – my only advertising expense is printing up business cards.
“People Just Trust Me”
The trust factor certainly bears on how busy I’ve become. Because I was a police officer, people just trust me. I usually don’t even meet my customers face-to-face until the first time I come to pick up their car. Customer service is key. I’ll pick up the car right from the customer’s home. I deliver the car full of gas and washed. I transport plants, dogs and even cats who, as you know, usually don’t like to ride in cars.
Some Cats Like to Ride in Cars
One good customer has a cat that actually does like to ride in cars. Fatboy (great name for a cat!) is the subject of my two best stories about driving. Once when I was cruising down Route 95, Fatboy was roaming around the car when I glanced over just as his front paw hit the automatic window button. The window came down and Fatboy perched up on the ledge looking for all the world as if he were about to leap out. I grabbed his tail, pulled him back in (yowling all the way) and got the window up – all without crashing into the guard rail.
Listening to Books on Tape really helps to pass the time – especially on the long stretches. Fatboy is apparently a fan too. Once as I was intently listening to a Stephen King thriller all of a sudden I felt just the whisper of a furry tail flashing across the back of my neck. Fatboy! Scared the living daylights out of me! I can still feel my heart thumping after that fright. I had forgotten he was in the car.
Where’s your ideal retirement location?
Southeastern Massachusetts. We have the Atlantic seashore, lots of fresh water ponds, hiking opportunities, abundant fresh and salt water fishing and two great retirement communities here in Plymouth with world-class golf courses. My grandchildren are here too – and that’s the real reason it’s so great.
What’s the most important quality you must have to do this work?
You must like to drive. Really, really like it. A good sense of direction sure helps. And not getting too aggravated with other drivers. After twenty-eight years as a police officer, believe me, I’ve experienced plenty of stressful and aggravating stuff. Having a slow driver in front of me isn’t one of them.
Do you wish you had done this job when you started your working life?
If you look at my high school yearbook, you’ll see under my picture that I planned to “pursue law enforcement.” I grew up in a police world; my father was in law enforcement. So I would encourage anyone to go into this work. But retirement life allows me a lot more freedom to travel, to meet new people, to earn some extra money. I left work that I enjoyed and slid right into something that’s been great. It’s a pretty sweet life.
Have you found any great places to eat on all those trips up and down Route 95?
There’s a great place in Manning, South Carolina – The Waffle House, at Exit 119 on R95. I’m there so often that the locals began to wonder why they didn’t know where I lived in town even though they would see me at this popular spot so frequently!
Any great trips coming up?
Yes. I’m driving one customer’s car from Plymouth to Las Vegas to South Florida and then back to Plymouth over the course of four months. Six thousand, five hundred miles!
How much do you charge? How does one get in touch with you?
The best way to reach me is through email — Skipbudge@comcast.net. I am good about returning emails quickly and can discuss pricing and dates by phone after that.
Contact Skip: Skipbudge@comcast.net
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