In fact, most people who utilize Eskew’s service are so unhinged by the time they get to the bridge, they can’t keep their eyes open during the ride.“I’ve had people lay down in their back seat with a blanket over their head,” he says.
The bridge-phobic typically schedule their drive-over weeks or days in advance.
“They know it’s coming and they dread it,” he says.
“They ask me, ‘Am I the only crazy one?’
“I tell them no. We drive over between seven and eight thousand people a year. It’s fairly common.”
And apparently is becoming more so.
Eskew says a number of customers become gephyrophobic—at least of the Bay Bridge—out of the blue and are not nervous Nellies to begin with.
“They used to be able to drive the bridge, but for whatever reason, one day they can’t,” he says. “They pull up to pay the toll and realize: Oh crap. You see the fear in their face. It happens.”
His service has driven over campers, cars with trailers, even a tractor-trailer (Eskew has a connection with a CDL-licensed driver for such occasions but needs advance notice) when otherwise intrepid drivers suddenly lost their cool.
Sure, he sees the potential for comic relief in these misadventures (the lacrosse mom is his favorite), but he doesn’t judge anyone for their fears.
“We’re providing the support they need. It’s that simple. Imagine the scariest thing in the world that you ever had to do. Well, now imagine paying someone $30 to make that thing a whole lot easier. Wouldn’t you do it?” he asks.
Eskew, who bought the business five months ago, has been doing drive-overs for about nine years now. He’s developed relationships with his regulars, which include year-round customers who need to get over the bridge daily for work.
They appreciate his understanding and are seriously grateful, he says, and even give him a gift or souvenir from time to time.
“There’s a customer who brings me a tub of Fisher’s Popcorn from Ocean City, and another who gives me footlongs from Ann’s Footlongs in Glen Burnie,” he says.
“Those are the best hotdogs in the world.”
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