I think we’re going to have a cold next few months. If I can feel the cold then it must be true as I generally have a high threshold to it. The kids are always calling me a miser (or words to that effect) for not allowing the heating to be switched on and I always tell them to get an extra layer on. I also like to do my bit to help the environment and am always turning lights and switches off. Does that make me a miser? Anyways, I’ve just turned the heating on for the first time since last winter and it feels nice and warm now but it’s only staying on for half an hour or so as my thrifty senses are on full alert.
My Xeta system failed over the weekend and I was unable to do any work on it. The external GPS receiver cacked out so the PDA had no way of knowing what area I was in. I rang the technicians at Station Road in Tufnell Park but they obviously don’t work the weekends. I left a message on the answer phone and was woken up at 9am this morning by them with instructions on how to reset the GPS. I had to get in behind the glove box and pull a fuse out, wait a few minutes and replace the fuse. The GPS reset itself with ridiculous ease. It’s easy when you know how! Had I known this on Friday night I could have done some work on it. Still, I’ll know for next time. It also saves me a trip over there today and gives me a few more hours in bed.
I made it to the cab garage last Friday. It’s always painful parting with cab rent on a weekly basis so multiply that by three and imagine the agony I was in. I never hung about for any banter as I had stuff to do. One thing I did find out was that the camera that flashed me on Mile End Road (I was caught at 36mph in a 30 zone), whilst I was dealing with a female passenger who thought I’d missed her turning, did actually have film in it and that I am now (or will soon be) the proud owner of twelve penalty points and an impending 3 to 6 month driving ban. Lovely!! I’m still waiting for the paper work for the one that flashed me outside Holloway Womens Prison and until that arrives I am still on six points. I’ll try and string it out for a few months and hopefully some of my earlier points will have expired. One of the guys at the garage told me that in any case I probably wouldn’t receive a ban but I would be required to attend some sort of driving course. I should still contact my trade organisation, The LTDA (Licensed Taxi Drivers Association) as they offer free legal help to all members and could possibly save me a lot of grief.
Since I got my new Nokia n95 phone I have been using one of those bluetooth in-the-ear handsfree thingys that I despise (Motorola H700 £40 in the carphone Warehouse). It’s quite a sensitive bit of equipment and the main button, which is multi-functional, often depresses whilst the item is in my pocket, sending all sorts of commands to the phone. The thing it does the most is to activate the voice dialling, which then waits for you to speak. It interprets external noises and taxi vibrations as commands and then searches the phone for likely candidates. If you’re not paying attention you could go through the whole phone book and never know. Working mainly at night, the phone has been calling various people who have been answering from their beds, probably cursing me and then hanging up, all without my knowledge. I know for a fact that I did call my nephew’s phone in Mallorca at 2 in the morning as I saw the call in the log. (Sorry if I woke you guys up). So what I was leading up to was that I purchased another bluetooth from eBay, which works in a different way, and have now been waiting for several weeks. The seller has informed me that the delay is due to the recent postal strike but I have received other goods purchased much later. I think another message to him is now due. Another problem I have been having with the device is that it chafes the top of my ear so I have been removing it and storing it in the part of the cab door used to pull it shut. On several occasions whilst getting in and out of the cab it has fallen, without my knowledge, out of it’s space and either under my seat or out of the cab altogether and into the road. So I was sitting in outside Kebab Kid in New Kings Road last night (or early this morning at 12.30am) eating a large chicken shawarma and taramasalata and pondering my life when my phone rang. I automatically reached for the handsfree device in the door and found the space empty. I had moved the cab from outside the shop to a few yards away and automatically turned to look at where I had been parked. It was dark but I could just make out a dark bump on the tarmac and knew it was my bluetooth and if it hadn’t already been flattened by the cars on this busy road it soon would be. I jumped out of the cab with my kebab in hand and raced back the few yard to retrieve the device. By some miracle it was untouched. I think part of me was hoping that it had been flattened as I just haven’t been able to take to it and eagerly await the arrival of my new and better one from ebay.
(At this point my electric ran out and I thought I’d lost all that is written above. Phew!! Thank God for Windows XP. Win 98 would have wiped the lot)
On the work front, all is well. It’s simply a matter of getting in to the cab and driving away. Sometimes after dinner I go upstairs for a nap and never want to surface for work. A few days this week I have instructed the kids to nag me out to work and they have duly obliged. From 8pm onwards I get shouted at and insulted by them (all with my consent) until I eventually get up. Once out of the door there’s no problem but a few times I have been nagged from 8pm to 10pm and those two hours make a big difference in the takings.
On Saturday night England’s rugby team lost the World Cup Final to South Africa. I managed to sleep the whole way through it and never started work till 10pm. The centre of town was awash with jubilant South Africans and it was one of the most profitable four hours I’ve ever done. The last job of that particular night found me driving homewards through Camden Town. My light was off and I was just hoping for someone to approach me at the traffic lights and ask to go my way. A big built Aussie guy with a Ben Sherman short-sleeved shirt (I knew this as my son has an identical one) approached me and asked if I would take him to Shepherds Bush. It’s sort of over my way so I agreed but he wanted a price.
Him: How much you looking for mate?
Me: As much as I can get.
Him: I reckon twenty-five quid’ll do it.
It would probably go nearer to thirty but as I was finishing I didn’t mind.
Me: Ok mate but I want the money up front.
I’m getting good at asking for the money up front. For years I wouldn’t ask for it and some journeys have ended with the passengers doing a runner.
Him: Ok but I want to stop at a petrol station to get some phone credit so will that cover it?
Off we went. I found a garage in Wellington Road and he jumped out and joined the queue. He was one of these guys who can start a conversation with anyone. There were a couple of blonde chicks in the line ordering all sorts of food items and the attendant was running backwards and forwards getting all their stuff. The guy started talking to them and soon had them in fits of laughter. The whole process took much longer than anticipated and I was getting irate at being kept waiting on a fixed price. The guy was now talking to anyone and everyone and messing about with the six-packs of Evian water on the forecourt. In the end I honked the horn and shouted “Come on!!” “Keep your hair on mate” he said as he got back in the cab. “There’s no need to take the piss mate we’re on a fixed price here not the meter,” I growled. We were on our way again and he recharged his phone with the credit and proceeded to ring everyone he knew to talk about the rugby. From what I could hear he had wanted England to win, which I though unusual. The Aussies must have a bigger rivalry with the South Africans. He talked all the way to the Bush and had me drop him outside Belushi’s on the Green. I had put the meter on in Camden and it now read £36 so he’d gotten a bargain ride home. I must remember not to do that in future.
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