There are times when it feels like car journalism must be the best job in the world. And not because of the places we visit, the things we see, or the cars we drive; if you’re enthusiastic about cars, there’s little more enjoyable than writing about them, believe me – and that’s what drives most of us.

But the other day it didn’t feel like I was onto such a winner. I wasn’t on a long, rainy photo shoot, or dealing with a tricky PR, dealer or owner. I wasn’t even under pressure with a deadline. I was in a car, being driven to an airport by a man paid by an agency, on behalf of a car company who I had been visiting with. 

The guy’s name was Gary; in order to protect him from rebuke, I won’t mention who he was working for. But he was telling me about some of the things he gets to do, simply as a rent-a-driver. “The hours are flexible,” he said. “I’ve got my own business, but things have been slow recently, so I’m filling in. They ring me up with maybe a day’s notice, they tell me where to be and when, they provide the car, and I always get a minimum of ten hours pay – even if I work only two hours.”

“I used to drive a cab, but that’s not nearly as comfortable a way to make a living,” he went on. “The hours can be seriously long, your customers can be difficult, and the cars are old and dirty. Plus, you’re never sure what you’re gonna make.”