Like so many Las Vegans since it was announced the NFL’s Raiders would be moving here in 2020, a fellow named Dan Holmgren recently had a chance meeting with Mark Davis, the team’s accessible and amiable owner.
It was a major thrill for the limousine driver who grew up in the Bay Area.
The brief conversation would cost Holmgren, 53, his job. He had been driving for Abraham Limo Service for less than a month.
On Jan. 28, Holmgren was on duty in the staging area at Caesars Palace, first in line. He had been idling nearly four hours, with nary a fare. Blame it on Uber and Lyft.
It was around 10:45 p.m., he said, when a familiar haircut was noticed near the taxi line beyond the main entrance at Caesars.
Being a devout follower of all things silver and black— and member of a consortium that purchased eight seat licenses at $7,500 each for when Las Vegas Stadium opens — Holmgren immediately identified the man standing next to Mark Davis as Raiders president Marc Badain.
Holmgren said he told the starter — the man in charge of limousine service at curbside — that he was going to say hello to Davis, if that was OK. He needed to stretch his legs, anyway.
“I told (Davis) I had been a lifelong Raiders fan,” Holmgren said. “He laughed and said ‘So have I.’ ”
‘Couldn’t have been nicer’
“He shakes my hand, we talked about the stadium, I told him that I went to the Raiders’ game in 2011 in Houston, the day after his dad (longtime Raiders owner Al Davis) passed away,” the limo driver said. “I told him all the stuff that went on with being a Raiders fan, going to games with my dad, buying the PSLs — he couldn’t have been a nicer guy.
“As I was talking to him, Marc Badain hands me a Raiders lapel pin.”
Holmgren said the conversation took less than five minutes.
He said five minutes later he received a call from dispatch, to bring the car in.
He was fired, he says, for leaving his vehicle.
“Nowhere in the employee handbook does it say anything like that,” Holmgren said.
“The payroll lady told me, ‘You were fired because when you have customers you are not supposed to interact with them except ‘yes sir, no sir.’ I said, ‘Ma’am, you don’t understand what happened. They weren’t my customers, they weren’t Caesars’ customers. I didn’t solicit their business. They were just waiting for someone to pull up.’ ”
After multiple attempts to contact the owner of Abraham Limo Service, an employee finally answered and said Mr. Abraham was out of town and unavailable. After being pressed, the person on the line said the company had no comment about the firing.
Lovely parting gift
A spokesman at Presidential Limousine of Las Vegas said its policy was for drivers to stay within 20 feet of their vehicles at all times — that if a customer sought to hire the limo and the chauffeur was away from the car, it might appear unprofessional. The spokesman also said being terminated for a first-time offense such as Holmgren described seemed harsh.
Holmgren said leaving the vehicle was not discussed during training. He had driven for another limo company since moving here in 2006, he said, and made lots of contacts and friends, including former UNLV football coach Harvey Hyde, who calls him Dan The Limo Man.
He said he was upset that he lost his job but was thrilled to have met Mark Davis.
“I told him where our seats were in Section 143, Row 38, three rows from the top at plaza level where they are going to build the eternal flame for Al Davis,” Holmgren said. “He said awesome, what a great place to sit.”
Holmgren said he didn’t ask for an autograph or a selfie because “I didn’t want to overdo it.”
“But then I got that lapel pin as proof that it was a nice encounter.”
And then he claims he got a pink slip.
Dan Holmgren thinks he will be able to find another job, and said that if he was terminated from this one for violating company policy … well, at least he got to meet Mark Davis.
While there are two sides to every story, all I will add is this: It’s a good thing Jessica Tandy didn’t make Morgan Freeman abide by unwritten policies in the movies, or Miss Daisy wouldn’t have been driven anywhere.