Driving the Saudis, A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies, and one royal hairdresser) by Jayne Amelia Larson
Jayne Larson is an actress and film producer and, you know, all-around Hollywood kind of person, and a few years ago when she was going through a rough spot financially she took a job as a chauffeur to make ends meet. A special gig came up--7 weeks driving for a branch of the Saudi royal family. It would be tough work, with no days off, on-call 24 hours, but there would be a big tip at the end for those who did well. And there would be princesses!
Larson didn't know much about the Saudi royal family when she started, and she was surprised when the princesses arrived in designer clothing instead of black abayas, which had been discarded during the journey. The family was there to shop and get plastic surgery and generally have fun, and Larson's job was grueling; at any moment she could get a sudden demand to drive to In-and-Out, a casino, or hey, why not San Diego? RIGHT NOW? Everything was demanded right now.
The work was hard, but Larson also got to know the teenage princesses and lots of nannies and servants, and it's fascinating to read about. She developed close bonds with several of them and talks about them with love. It's neat to get to know these people, but Larson also talks about the weird moral problems that came with her job; it didn't take her too long to figure out that the servants were, practically speaking, prisoners. Their working hours were highly illegal and their passports were locked away. This is standard procedure for Saudi employers, and Larson feels guilty and helpless about it. What are you going to do about this? Report them to the California Board of Labor? There's nothing you can do. There were several things like this in Larson's story--for princesses as well as for servants--and they're heartbreaking.
The princesses did a lot of shopping and got a lot of surgery. They are unimaginably wealthy, and it's a strange life. On the one hand, there is complete luxury and financial security; they can travel anywhere, own anything, and never have to lift a finger. On the other hand, opportunities for working hard to accomplish a goal are few. They are not free to choose a husband or a life other than the one set down for them. And should one cross a line, the consequences are dire. It's very much a "bird in a gilded cage" life, and I think they go kind of nuts, like a parrot with no flock. People aren't meant to live like that.
Larson was the only woman in the pool of drivers, and this turned out to be useful--to the Saudis anyway. How it turns out for Larson is something you'll have to read about yourself. It's a really interesting book, a quick read, and hard to put down.