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Huizenga doesn't sleep much, but he thinks a lot

Got a chance to sit with billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga last week and ask him some unusual questions. He was candid and funny, and what follows is one of the goofiest interviews he has ever done:

Q: Do you sing in your car?

A: No. I don't sing in the shower, either. But I do listen to music in the car. I'm a station surfer with leanings toward old-fogy music.

Q: If you were walking down the street, would you bend over to pick up a quarter?

A: Of course.

Q: Really?

A: Yes. I would bend over to pick up a nickel or a penny, too.

Q: How much sleep do you get?

A: I usually go to sleep after the 11:30 p.m. news and wake up at about 4:30. I stay in bed from 4:30 to 6 a.m. That's when I do my thinking, alone, getting ideas and making notes in the dark. I try to think for at least an hour and a half in the morning. Then I go to the office.

Q: When was the last time you used coupons?

A: I've never used a coupon. But I know my wife does.

Q: Do you do anything around the house _ gardening, cooking, taking out the garbage?

A: No. In my earlier days, for 10 years, I commuted between South Florida and Chicago, leaving Sunday and coming back Friday, so my wife Marti took charge of everything because I was always gone. Our house was built in 1926 and has been remodeled several times since, but I haven't done any of it. Marti handles everything. I don't know how to turn on the sprinklers or set the timers for the yard lights. It's a big joke around the house. If it's inside work, mom will handle it. If it's outside work, mom will handle it.

Q: Do you have a slew of butlers and maids?

A: We have a lot of security. We have one couple that lives with us. And we have another couple that comes to the house every day during the week. She works half a day inside the house, and he works all day in the yard.

Q: Have you ever been someplace and not had enough money to pay for something?

A: Just last Saturday. I went to get a haircut at Big Bob's Barber Shop in Fort Lauderdale, and I had only $1 in my pocket. I had just made a purchase, and didn't realize I didn't have any cash on me. I apologized. Good thing I go there every week to get a haircut and my nails done and the people know me. They told me it was on the house. Heck, with as little hair as I have, I should be able to get a haircut for just a dollar.

Q: How much money do you keep in your wallet?

A: Depends on how much my wife needs. I don't have any set amount. But it's not much. I don't carry a lot of money. I've had the same American Express card since 1972. I put most of my expenses on that.

Q: What is your credit-card limit?

A: I don't know.

Q: Whatever it is, you've never had angry credit-card people calling you to tell you you've exceeded your limit, right?

A: No, that's never happened.

Q: What's the largest check you've ever written?

A: I don't write checks anymore. It's taken care of at the office. I haven't had a checkbook since the 1970s.

Q: What is the most obscene expense you've ever put on a credit card?

A: Probably a hotel bill in Europe, renting five or six rooms for a week with the family.

Q: Do you gamble?

A: No. I played roulette in Las Vegas about 15 years ago. But the last 20 times I've been to Vegas on business, I haven't even put a quarter in the slot machine.

Q: If you did sit at a blackjack table, would you play the low-money tables or the big-money tables?

A: The minimum.

Q: How in the world does anybody buy you the right gift?

A: My kids always find a way. One of the kids gave me a tie package once, where you paint your own tie. We sat around and painted it. My wife's brother once gave me a round piece of cloth with a hard backing. It was a round tuit _ for people who eventually will get around to it.

Q: Do you do your own Christmas shopping?

A: My wife buys for the kids and relatives. I buy for my wife, and get as confused as everyone else in the mall.

Q: What's the best gift you've ever given?

A: I've given my family ski trips, but my favorite was eight or 10 years ago. I took the whole family _ about 13 or 14 of us _ to a race car driving school at Sebring. We took over the course for three days, racing the Formula Fords.

Q: What kind of tipper are you?

A: I don't know. I believe tipping has become part of the meal. If someone really takes care of us _ showing good personality or making your evening somehow more enjoyable _ I believe I'm a generous tipper.

Q: What's generous?

A: Let's leave it at that _ generous.

Q: Do you pay when you go to Blockbuster?

A: I don't watch movies. Sometimes my wife goes to rent movies. But, yes, all officials pay at Blockbuster. When we started, certain employees could have free tapes. But then some employees did have children and others didn't, and it became unfair, so now everybody pays.

Q: What's your favorite movie and TV show?

A: Sound of Music is my favorite movie. I like comedy TV shows like Northern Exposure and Wings, but I don't watch much TV. If I have a favorite program, I might watch it once a year.

Q: Your son, Wayne Jr., says he gets phone calls from strangers requesting money just because he has your name. Does that happen much to you?

A: Yeah. Most of that stuff doesn't get to me anymore. It gets stopped by my secretaries.

Q: But what about at home? Your number is listed.

A: Nobody has called me at home asking for money. Usually, it's letters. I'm listed because I believe that when you are in business, people who are angry should have the right to look you up and tell you so. But one day I might have to change that policy.

Q: Do you pump your own gas or use full service?

A: Many stations don't even have full service. If I'm on the road and low on gas, I'll pull into wherever is convenient and pump my own gas. I probably do that about one-third or half the time. If I'm driving into the office and see that I'm low, I'll tell somebody to go fill my car with gas or get it washed for me.

Q: You own just about every sport in South Florida. Do you do anything athletic?

A: We have a tennis court at the house. I like to play, but over the years I haven't gotten to play much because I'm working so much. I only play golf in South Florida maybe three or four times a year. My wife beats me at golf. She shot an 87 the last time we played, and I shot an 89.

Q: When was the last time you had a day in which you did not do any work at all?

A: I can't remember one. When I go to North Carolina for vacation, I use the phone as much as when I'm in the office. I bring two briefcases with me. I work Sunday, Saturday, always.

Q: When was the last time you drove through a drive through at a fast-food restaurant?

A: Thursday night. Me and Marti ate at Arby's on U.S. 1. We had just gotten an award in Fort Lauderdale along with, what's that guy's name with the long, blond hair? Favio?

Q: Fabio?

A: Yes. We had just gotten an award and we were rushing to catch an airplane, so we stopped for roast beef sandwiches. My favorite food is chicken, though. I eat at Boston Chicken and Pollo Tropical. I'm no different than anyone else. I've been fortunate enough to make some money, but I like fast food like everyone else.