I’ve had a busy week, all things considered.
After regularly reading that Wil at Paradise Driver loves the program “Heroes” I decided to scan the net for a site that would allow me to watch them for myself. I found a great site but won’t name it as the last time I mentioned a site it got taken down. So after a couple of episodes I was hooked and finally managed to catch up with everyone else by watching episode 22 before I went to work today. Great show. I’ve also been catching up on all the other ones I watch such as Lost, Smallville and CSI so there hasn’t been much time to blog after work. Oh I also went with my daughter to watch Spiderman 3. Whilst other people I have spoken too never enjoyed it I thought it was great and the special effects excellent.
You may recall me mentioning about the immobilisers on these cabs (TXI’s only) Well I had mine disabled recently and it’s been great just being able to jump in and start the engine without all the button pressing malarkey. Whilst sat on the Holborn Viaduct Rank (a notorious immobiliser dead zone) a cabby sauntered over to me and asked if I knew about immobilisers. I pre-empted him and told him his problem before he told me it, I demonstrated how mine wouldn’t work either (the central locking still works with the same remote control but not in a dead zone) and asked if he knew the four-digit code to enter on the keypad under the visor. He had a code but it never worked. I told him that he’d have to move the cab away from the dead zone by pushing and offered to help. We pushed it off the rank and across the roundabout into Charterhouse Street. He pulled up a hundred yards away and tried the remote…..nothing. I tried…..nothing. Oh and by the way, I was breathing out of my arse at this point after that marathon cab push. We were another hundred yards from the rank in Farringdon Street so I said I’d push him there and that would be it for me, he was on his own. We had to wait a few light changes for a clear path and eventually I got him onto the rank. My ticker was going ten to the dozen and I felt odd. The cab never started and I left him to it. I never heard him say thanks but he probably did. It took me ten minutes to walk back to my cab and another THIRTY before I felt well enough to carry on working. I must get in shape.
Later that night I was driving past the coach station when a man hailed me and asked if I would take the old man standing next to him down to Lewisham. He looked like a “down and out” so I asked if he had any money on him. He said he had plenty money so I accepted. To cut a long story short he said he wanted Mayow Road. After checking on my digital a to z I discovered it was nowhere near Lewisham and a lot closer to Forest Hill. By going the Lewisham way the fare would be at least ten pounds dearer. Inevitably the old fella started piping up. I’d already made up my mind that I would knock the tenner off even though I was quite within my rights to ask for it. We arrived at his address and I told him to call it thirty instead of the forty on the meter. He pulled out a twenty and said “that’s all I’ve got”. After the event I thought I shouldn’t of, but at the time I had to unleash the pent up anger so I slagged him off something rotten. He was trying to get away from me but I followed him as he tried to get away from me and called him all the bastards and cunts under the sun. I still never got my money but I felt better. This job is unique. If you enter a shop and buy something you pay first. In this job you pay at the end so if there’s no money you’re out of pocket and left with two options. You call the police or you take it into your own hands. There is no way I would ever hit anyone let alone an old man but I’m also not going to let anyone take me for a mug so all in all I felt vindicated. If you’ve never done this type of work then don’t pipe up with venomous comments, as you’ve got no idea how it feels to work for nothing.
I drove back to Victoria and the next fare asked how much it would be to Islington and then onto Willesden Green. I started off by saying around thirty but decided it would be more. He’d already turned away from me as I said it would be nearer to forty. They got in and he directed me to Newington Green, six to seven pounds past Islington. He gets out, (meter is on £26) gives me thirty and says “Make sure she gets home safe”. I say “it’s gonna be more than this mate” He says “you said thirty” Blah blah blah. After being knocked by the old fella for twenty pounds then this twat not hearing me say forty at Victoria I blew my stack. Plenty of F’s and C’s issuing from my mouth as he tried to calm me down. The upshot was that she got out with him and I got to keep the thirty. I would rather of taken her to Willesden Green as it took me home but it was probably better that I never.
My mate Chris rang me as I slept in on Friday lunchtime to ask if I wanted to take a Spanish lady to the airport as he had other plans. He put her on the phone and I spoke in Spanish and arranged to collect her from the new Haymarket Hotel (entrance in Suffolk Place chaps). The cab was in dire need of a wash so I got up and hosed it down on my drive. He’d also said that Haymarket and the surrounding streets were in gridlock so I should get there early. I got there 20 minutes early and she emerged five minutes after the arranged time. I tried to make conversation with her and managed to prise out of her that she lived in Pollensa in Mallorca in the Balearic Islands. I mentioned that my sister lived there but found her to be, quite frankly, what I would call a miserable cow. She perked up a little as a motorized settee passed us on the M4 and asked me questions about it. It basically looked like a standard household settee with a man sitting on it but bombing along a very fast road. I was as amazed as her. I’ve seen motorized novelty vehicles such as the settee and a bed driving around town but have never seen them on the motorway. This settee must have been doing at least 60 mph and looked totally unsuitable, security-wise, to be on such a dangerous road. I would have loved to get a photo of it but it all happened so fast. We arrived at Heathrow and she promised to use me the next time she was in town but to be honest these pre-arranged pick-ups are more trouble than they’re worth so I probably won’t bother.
Tonight’s shift was extremely busy mainly due to the fact that today was FA Cup Final day. The first one at the newly re-built Wembley Stadium. Most cabbies had opted for the night off which meant loads of work for the rest of us out there. The Pride of Paddington pub close to the station was bursting at the seams as I passed it. All you could see was Chelsea fans celebrating their teams’ victory by singing and dancing on the tables. The pub usually caters for the many tourists that stay at the surrounding hotels but they were nowhere to be seen tonight as that sort of rowdy behaviour can be quite intimidating to those not used to it.
I haven’t been to the cab garage for two weeks and I’ve been driving around with a blown headlight for the past few days. The other one decided to pack up as well so I pulled into the garage at Clipstone street to buy two bulbs. £5 each!!!! Robbing bastards.
You’ll remember previous posts where I described how hard it can be to change head light bulbs on the TX’s due to the awkward design but the three years of owning my own TXII proved invaluable tonight and I had both the bulbs fitted within fifteen minutes.
One job followed another wherever I went and strangely for a Saturday night there were no losers about. Or so I thought as I made my way towards NHG, that’s Notting Hill gate to you. A Polish type guy (don’t quote me on that) flagged me at the bus stop outside McDonalds and said “Hello Mike, how much for to go to Homchurch please?” “You mean Hornchurch?” I corrected. “No Homchurch near Upminster” He did mean Hornchurch near Upminster and there were three other dodgy looking guys getting nearer to the cab by the second. My Spidey Sense was tingling and after the other night (see above) there was no way I was going to ignore my gut feeling. “I’m not going to Hornchurch” says me. “Why not” says he sounding positively menacing. The others had all gathered around him and were checking the contents of my drivers compartment for anything snatchable. “Because it’s too far and I’m almost finished” I could’ve gone on to explain that I’m not obliged to take anyone over 12 miles if I don’t want to but somehow I think that explanation would have been lost on him so I did the next best thing and said “Be lucky” and drove away leaving the four of them standing there staring dumbly. A few yards along I pulled up for a nice couple wanting to go to West Hampstead. “You’ll do for me” I thought. I was indoors within 25 minutes and not out in the wilds of Essex dead in the water.Check back soon.