SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

diplomat driving

Discussion started on

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
I was wondering if anyone here could tell me if a western diplomat (not the ambassador) working at a consulate in another western country would drive themselves to and from the office. I know some diplomat's have drivers but wasn't sure how that works. Any info would be much appreciated!  :moose
#1 - July 26, 2011, 11:50 AM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region midatlantic
I'm sure there are people out there with way more experience than I have, but if it helps, I know there are some countries where Americans stationed there are expected to hire as many locals as possible.  Someone with a very middle-class income here would be expected to have a cook, nanny, maid, driver, gardener, etc.  (A friend was stationed in Thailand--couldn't tell you about other countries.)

This doesn't really answer your question but I was inspired to say it anyway. :)
#2 - July 26, 2011, 12:12 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
Thanks for that, Anne Marie. You never know when the info might come in handy!

In my book the diplomat worked (about twenty years ago) for the High Commission of Canada in New Zealand. Or at first it appears that way anyway (things are not as they seem).
#3 - July 26, 2011, 12:26 PM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region dakotas
Sarah_create could tell you better, but in a western country where regular people drive their own cars, someone working for the state department probably does, too. I know for a fact that Germany has reciprocal agreements with different US states (for some reason it is the German national government on one side and individual US states on the other)--you (meaning you, C.K., should you move there) can drive on a US license in Germany for up to six months, depending on where you are licensed. If you go past six months, you have to get a German license--but I believe that up until three years, you can still get a special discount on that German license. Like, $40?? (A regular German license costs around $3000--$1000 for driving school--required--and $2000 for the license itself.)

Then again, if you live close to the embassy and regular people use public transit and their feet to get places in town (due to a lack of parking spaces and excellence of public transit), you may just walk.

The idea of having a cook and a nanny and a maid and a chauffeur in Germany seems absurd to me. I know other countries (like China) are different, and that IS the norm.
#4 - July 26, 2011, 12:29 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
In our community the diplomats drive themselves because they have immunity. The rest of us have drivers because we can be liable for an accident, whether it is our fault or not.
#5 - July 26, 2011, 07:42 PM

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
Thanks, Olmue & Marcia!
#6 - July 27, 2011, 08:10 AM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

It sounds like you got some good answers. I just wanted to offer that I have a friend who's wife is a diplomat in Afghanistan and has also been in Kazhakstan (sp?) and Greece. If you need me to ask any questions, let me know. :)
#7 - July 27, 2011, 03:07 PM
Robin

Creator of Mootastic Art and Children's Books
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region nymetro
Don't know if this helps, but there's a great scene in the West Wing where the president screams at a diplomat on the phone about parking tickets. Given that scene, I'm guessing DC is a lot like NYC, where diplomats rack up tons and tons of tickets for driving/parking/etc. and don't have to pay them because of diplomatic immunity. It was really bad and a big news story for years, but haven't heard much about it lately. So it seems like diplomats can drive here, even if not from a Western country. Some diplomats do have drivers and secret service when they are in town, but that doesn't seem to be the norm.
#8 - July 27, 2011, 04:57 PM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

ADE

Guest
My parents have a friend who was the assistant of an ambassador.  He drove himself to work like everyone else.  He and his family lived in a nice house, in a nice area but it wasn't a mansion.  Their lives were not any different from the lives of a normal upper middle class family.  I went to school with his daughter and no one treated her differently.  Now that he is an ambassador they're living in an official residence and he is driven.  I hope that helps.
#9 - July 27, 2011, 08:55 PM

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
Thanks so much, you guys! You've been most helpful.  :pickle
#10 - July 28, 2011, 05:58 AM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

My father was a diplomat (now retired). The only western country he was stationed was Iceland.

The life of a diplomat is romanticized in books and movies. While it's a solid, professional job it's not extremely high paying where you'd have a chauffer, etc. Even in West Africa my dad either drove or took a cab. In Brazil he relied on his Honda scooter or took a cab. It's typical to have a maid or houseboy in a country where that's extremely affordable (and it's encouraged to hire some locals). That doesn't extend to somebody who just sits around waiting for you to go somewhere. Also note that in every country I lived in the US community was quite close to the embassy so walking wasn't out of the question. In cases where the US community wasn't close to the embassy there was a shuttle. So the day to day driving was minimal.

Many western countries have solid public transportation, and because it's a hassle to drag a car to a foreign country and drive there it's not unusual to rely on cabs and public transportation.

The ambassador might have a car and driver but I assure you that few others, if anyone else, would. However, the embassy itself would have cars and drivers for transportation during the work day -- to visit other embassies or local officials, pick up people at the airport, etc.

In fact, my father WAS the driver on one occasion... the passenger was then vice president George HW Bush.



#11 - July 28, 2011, 06:25 AM

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
Hi Kurtis,

thanks for chiming in! That's what I thought (about only the ambassador having a driver) and have in my draft but my editor questioned it, asking whether the diplomat would have a driver so I figured I better double check. George Bush - wow!
#12 - July 28, 2011, 07:38 AM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

ecb

Guest
When I was a kid (so about 25 years ago, the time period you're working with), my family lived in Ecuador (my dad is a college professor and was there teaching journalism), and a close family friend worked at the US Consulate. I could not tell you her official title, but she was the person who was in charge of, well, us. I definitely remember that she had a car, as she often drove all of us on group family outings, and I know she drove herself (and her husband) to work, as well. Her family lived in a nice, but by no means extravagant (and quite small-seeming to my 9-year-old midwest sensibilities!) apartment, and had a housekeeper who came in once a week.

I think this might be something that could be fairly easily found out, assuming New Zealand and Canada are still on friendly terms, by contacting someone in the offices you're mentioning. (Although if this mysterious past is in fact a LIE, as you seem to be indicating, you can probably just say whatever sounds most reasonable for the characters/situation.)
#13 - August 01, 2011, 05:28 PM

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
Thanks, ecb, that's good to know!

Quote
Although if this mysterious past is in fact a LIE, as you seem to be indicating, you can probably just say whatever sounds most reasonable for the characters/situation

This exactly.
#14 - August 02, 2011, 07:20 AM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

ecb

Guest
Well, excellent!  Although I've gone several rounds with my editor over a character's lie before, until I finally just gave in from exhaustion and made it the truth! :dr  (The character lies about "the other girl" in a situation, who she completely made up... but editor kept asking, "who's the other girl?" And somehow I could not convince her there *was* no other girl... so I put one in. And it's a good thing, apparently, because my father also wanted to know who the "other girl" was! :dr)
#15 - August 02, 2011, 05:32 PM

Chronic
Member
Poster Plus
Heehee, editors do have a way of wearing a writer down, don't they! It sounds like your character's lie was pretty darn compelling, ecb :exclamationpoint:
#16 - August 02, 2011, 06:13 PM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region wwa
For what it's worth, I lived in Vienna, Austria for a while and met a couple of diplomats. From what I remember, they owned cars they drove themselves, but like most people living in Vienna, they used public transport a lot.
#17 - August 03, 2011, 09:45 AM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.