Tuesday, August 15, 2006

3 times unlucky

“Take it you don’t like pushing a cab round London!!”

In reply to the above question from the final commenter on my last post, in an ideal world I’d rather be doing something else. I suppose any job is the same, if you’ve been doing it for long enough you’ll get the urge to want to do something else. If you are lucky to get out of one job and in to another you’ll probably get sick of that job given enough time. It’s human nature really. I am currently in my 17th year of cab driving and I’m probably worse off financially than I ever was doing other jobs. A lot of that has to do with being self-employed. I can work when I want and I can take days off when I want. In any other job you’d have to be there because you’d have set times or in the case of self-employed you’d have a job waiting for completion. If I had my time over I would do something different, something where I would have to be there at set times, I think I would work better that way. But until that day comes, if ever, I’ll just have to persevere with the job I do and make the best of it.

We’re getting quite a bit of rain now, which always helps with the work. Sunday was a very busy night for me. I started at 7.30pm and worked almost non-stop until 3am.

As usual, the main-line railway stations were the best places to pick up fares. Paddington was extra busy because on top of all the Heathrow trains arriving full of passengers there was also lots of Chelsea fans were returning from the Community Shield game (which they lost) in Cardiff.

I picked up this sweet little old lady of around 85 years old with a great big suitcase from Paddington and she asked for a Mews off of Kensington High Street. I put the case in the cab for her and checked the mews on my satnav and set off. On the way she was commenting on various buildings and shops. One building was being renovated and was completely covered with tarpaulin. When she spotted it she said “Oooh what a funny building, it doesn’t have any windows”. I never had the heart to tell her it was covered and said something like “yes there’s lots of strange buildings about these days”. When we arrived there was nobody home. The rain was pouring down and she would have had to stand there until somebody came home. I suggested dropping her at a nearby McD’s where she could wait in the dry and have a cup of tea but she had something else in mind. She asked me to drop her at the nearest pub where she could have half a pint of Guinness. Never judge a book by its cover.

Back at Victoria Station I picked a guy up with two great big suitcases. He asked for an address on Grosvenor Road by the river. Part of Grosvenor Road has railings down the centre of the road. He wanted the other side of the railings so I suggested driving up the road, turning round and setting him down on the right side. Rather than spend maybe 60 or 80 pence more he chose to get out on the wrong side and climb the railings with his two cases. He paid me off and I pulled forward a bit and decided to watch him. Anyone who knows Grosvenor Road will testify how busy it is. The whole exercise took him about five minutes and the funniest part was when he got stuck on the railings for about a minute and a half probably crushing his balls in the process, tight git!!

The last job on Sunday saw me take a guy out to Boston Manor in west London. En route I got a call from my daughter at 2am to collect her from her cousins house 12 miles away in Mitcham, south London, totally the opposite way I wanted to be going but what can you do?

I started a little later tonight (Monday) and in complete contrast to Sunday it was almost a waste of time being out. I had one of those crap nights Paradise Driver often talks about but I had to at least put the time in and hope something juicy might come along. I did 10 jobs in total and took just £108 before calling it a night. Of those 10 jobs 3 of them had something to write about.

The first one was an Irish guy who flagged me down in Fulham Road and asked me to run him out to Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, a £60 ride. I set off and was mentally breathing a sigh of relief at having obtained a decent job when he calls out “Sorry driver, cancel that, there’s nobody there (he’d been on the phone)” I had to pull over and let him out with the meter just clicking onto £3. We have a word for how we feel when that happens to us. Gutted!!!

The very next job walked up to me as I sat on the South Kensington rank. He said what sounded to me like “Mitcham please”. Another very nice job, not as good as the above one but good all the same. Again I set off. 500 yards down Old Brompton Road he shouts out “where are you going?”, “Mitcham” I replied. “I said Beauchamp Place (pronounced Beecham Place). Mitcham Please, Beecham Place, repeat both of them to yourselves a few times and see if you could make the same mistake, especially if you say it with an accent.

Maybe I was just craving a nice long run somewhere I don’t know. For the next fare I was back on the rank at Victoria Station and a drunk guy talking on his phone walked up to me and asked to be taken to Brockley, a £20 ride to a shit neighbourhood. All the way there he was saying how this country was full of foreigners and how they were ruining our way of life and how his dad had fought in the war (he looked about 25 so I don’t know what war his dad fought in) and it was evident he was just full of racial hatred. By the time I got him to his destination he was so fired up he said he was going to have a go at the first black person he saw and proceeded to exit the cab screaming “come on then” to an empty street. As I drove off I could see people start to look out of their windows and wondered if I might read about his demise in the morning papers. Silly boy!!

That proved to be my last job tonight as I have a full day tomorrow taking my dad to the eye hospital for a post-op check-up so I have to be up early.


jo said...

'She asked me to drop her at the nearest pub where she could have half a pint of Guinness'

That sounds so much like something our Grandma would have done!! Good luck to her - it looks like she is enjoying her life.

Your're right about the job thing though - everyone gets fed-up with their job sometimes.


bob said...

You have got a brill blog!

Anonymous said...

your getting famous, do a google search for"london cabby" and your blog is the first to come up, superb blog, keep it up.

ang said...

"Mitcham Please, Beecham Place"

I've tried it and it does sound very much the same, was it an Irish accent?

Something like that happened to me in Valencia once, I said "el port" in Valenciano and the driver understood "aeroport" which was totally in the other direction! I realised this as we were on the final run to the airport and told him, he got the huff with me and charged me the full fare when he dropped me off - needless to say I didn't tip, hahaha!