On the road
The O2 at night
My friend of many years, Chris of Titanic Struggles, has decided he wants to try nights for a while. He likes the fact that you can fly around London without traffic and claims that the money earned is “money for old rope”. Wait till he’s had a few pukers and losers without money, he’ll be back on days in a flash. We were in constant contact tonight via comms link, that’s a mobile phone to you lot. He had a decent night all things considered and his takings were twenty percent better than mine considering we did similar hours.
I started around an hour and a half after him and finished an hour after he had finished. It took me a while to get going after my first job from Paddington Station and I knew it wasn’t going to be a great night, well it was only Wednesday.
I was on the rank at Victoria when a guy started walking down the line. “Click” went my central locking. He wasn’t too steady on his feet, infact he looked rat-arsed drunk. He got to my window and asked if I took Credit Cards. I did, but I wanted to know a little bit more before I agreed to take him. He wanted to go to Twickenham in South West London and he’d give me a nice big tip. A forty-pound job I thought, plus possibly a fiver tip, what the hell? “Yeah jump in mate”. He started complaining about why all cabs don’t accept Credit Cards and I had to explain that as we were all freelancers and that it wasn’t obligatory to subscribe to radio circuits that only about twenty percent of London Taxis had the necessary equipment to process Credit Cards. I don’t think he gave a shit for my explanation and proceeded to nod off. The ride was uneventful until he awoke at the St. Margaret’s Roundabout and told me to turn after the Stoop. He then said something that always gets my back up. “Was that me or you that just farted”. I knew it wasn’t me because I’d decided a few years back to never fart with passengers in the cab as they (the farts) invariably end up traveling backwards. “Well you should know if you just farted mate” I said indignantly “but I’m fucking sure it wasn’t me,” I continued. He then went off on a rant saying who’s ever the fart belonged to must have had Chicken Curry (definitely not me as I had steak). He’d probably farted in his sleep and woke up engulfed in the fumes. I should have thrown a match in and ignited the fumes then we’d have known who the culprit was. He then started directing me to his road and after a few turns we arrived. Out comes the American Express Corporate Card. The equipment I use to process credit cards is the XDA II Pocket PC that is also my Xeta terminal for work. Everything has to be entered manually and then authorized by the control room. The only down side is that credit card jobs can only be processed at the end of the journey so by the time a problem arises it often to late to do anything about it. The first attempt came back “Invalid Card” as did the second. Having never had a card declined since being with Xeta I’d almost given him the card back and let him walk off. I had to tell him “Sorry mate the cards no good”. “It’s a business card, I use it all the time mate,” he answered back. “Well I’ve tried it twice and it’s not having it, you’ll have to pay cash”. I started getting annoyed at his body language and was preparing to spring (yes, me, spring) out of the cab and punch his lights out. He produced a personal card from his wallet and I had difficulty in reading the worn numbers to manually enter them but eventually managed to enter them. I gave him the receipt to sign and he entered a £5 tip which made me feel a bit of a dick for getting annoyed at him but I made a mental note to not accept credit rides from drunk arseholes unless I can get the money up front or somehow verify their cards first. (I think I could’ve done it over the phone but never thought I’d need to.
As I was driving back in to town this message came up on my terminal and brought home to me the dangers of going about one's business.
On the way back in to town I passed by Hammersmith and trapped a job out to Popes Lane in Gunnersbury. For some reason I started driving like a maniac and had the Asian guy outside his front door within a few minutes. He passed a twenty through the partition and said “you’re an amazing driver” to which I thanked him for his kind words.
The work had dried up by now and I had to drive all the way back to Victoria before I got my next fare. After a twenty-minute wait I ended up with a short hop to Vauxhall Bridge. Back at Victoria and another twenty minute wait for a marginally better job to Kennington. As I was pulling away from that one a guy hailed me in Kennington park Road and asked for Canonbury Grove. He was drunk or high or something and was soon out for the count. It took several loud shouts from me to rouse him and a few more minutes for him to realize what planet he was on but he eventually paid up and gave me a decent tip as well. I was now ready to go home but kept my light on all the way through the Angel, Pentonville Road, Kings Cross and Euston Road.
It was desperately quiet and there wasn’t a hand in sight. Oh well, tomorrow should be a good day.
12 Days to go.
Check back soon