Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seasons Greetings

Even a timely windfall from the courts was not enough to warrant a day off before the 24th of this month. Having submitted a letter to the court from my accountant in order to be reimbursed by them for doing jury service I was amazed when I received only a quarter of what I lost or never earned. It would be a pointless exercise for me to follow this up as the paperwork that accompanied the summons clearly stated the amount I would receive per day, I just never believed it. In any case they paid me promptly enough just in time for Christmas. What happens to people who have big mortgages to pay I wonder?

I got my TX1 back on Wednesday, and not a moment too soon. The Fairway I was driving was beginning to make me ill. Crap suspension, crap heating, crap windscreen wipers and crap security. It got broken into whilst on my drive one day last week and a bag containing quite important stuff to me was stolen. I’ve never been broken into whilst driving a TX1 or TX11 as it’s harder to break into these types of cabs without breaking the glass. The Fairways or FX4’s window locks are very basic and with a good pull the windows can be lowered allowing access to the door handles inside. It was mostly stuff that can be replaced but there were a few personal effects in there that can’t be which I will moan about for a few weeks and then move on with my life.

I’ve been able to do Xeta work again since getting the cab back as the bracket to hold the PDA and the GPS antenna remained with the cab during the overhaul. After a decent shift on Friday I finished up by accepting an underground job. As I’ve mentioned before that’s where we have to collect London Underground staff and take them home. I bid on a job from Morden Station whilst I was in the Chelsea area and was offered the job, which meant a long drive down to the station. I knew the job ended up in Edgware as it comes out every night so it was worth running for it. When I arrived at Morden the whole area was sealed off with Police tape but there wasn’t a copper in sight. The closest I could get was still pretty far from the pickup and I was immediately swamped by people looking for cabs. After fighting them off I decided the best thing to do was to get out of the cab and walk back to the station to see if I could see my first passenger. Most underground workers wear pretty distinctive blue coats with white trim on the arms so I was sure to spot him, wasn’t I? Unbeknown to me this guy had walked straight past me wearing something totally not London Underground issue uniform and managed to find my cab which had a name board with the logo on it whilst I’m stood at the station in the freezing cold waiting for him. After 15 minutes of simultaneously waiting and freezing my nuts off I thought “fuck this for a laugh” and walked back to my cab. Seeing this guy standing there in unfamiliar clothing I opened up the cab and started the engine and fired up the heater, which luckily after 15 minutes was still partially warm. “knock knock” went the window. “Are you waiting for so and so?” asked my man. “Yes I am,” I answered. “I’ve been waiting here for fifteen minutes,” says he. He may have wanted to start a rant at me but thought better of it as I must have looked stressed, fed up, pissed off call it what you like. I wasn’t in the mood for anyone’s complaints and would think nothing of it to terminate the ride there and then at the risk of being expelled from the radio circuit. Only tonight was I discussing with Chris about the minute amount of work this radio circuit has and if the subs were any more than the £13 we pay per week then they could shove it where the sun don’t shine. We’re just a back-up for a bigger radio circuit and we get all the work their drivers refuse to do. From 8pm until midnight I wasn’t offered one job, luckily there was plenty of street work. Post-Christmas should be interesting!!

The last few days of the pre-festive season are with us and there are some strange, if not comical people, out there. This next guy brightened my evening tonight.
I dropped a couple off at Sussex Square near Paddington and was immediately approached by a gentleman of Arabic appearance with a handlebar moustache (Poirot style) looking slightly disorientated and extremely drunk.

(Try and imagine this next exchange with a strong Arabic accent)

Him: My friend, where is Hyde Park Square?
Me: Just a few hundred yard along there mate.
Him: Where am I?
Me: You’re in Sussex Square and Hyde Park Square is that way, I can drive you there if you like?
Him: How much?
Me: About three pounds
Him: Two pounds (his haggling qualities kicking in)
Me: The meter starts at two twenty and it’s not negotiable.

He then tries to open the door but the handle is hard to locate as it’s camouflaged by my door advertising. He eventually finds it and opens the door. I hear a thud and look into the back of the cab. He’s sprawled on the floor face down mumbling something in Arabic. He manages to get up and park his bum on the seat.

Him: OK my friend, we go to number 2 Hyde Park Square, you wait for me and then we go to the Barracuda Club. I pay you five pounds OK?
Me: No, not OK you pay me what’s on the meter. (not one to suffer fools gladly I follow up with) I tell you what my friend (being slightly condescending), I’ll take you to Hyde Park Square, you pay me three pounds, you go in and do what you have to do and then get another cab to take you to the Barracuda, OK?

He seemed to accept this and I drove him the short distance to Hyde Park Square in silence. On arrival he opened the rear door and promptly fell out of the cab and landed face down on the pavement. I know it’s only slightly funny but I had to laugh. He got up, dusted himself down and answered my request for three pounds by producing three coins and then turned on his heels and entered the building. I was almost tempted to wait there until he came out to find another cab but I could’ve waited forever whilst there were people out there looking for cabs. I drove off with a smile all the same.

The penultimate job was a strange one. I picked a couple up from East Smithfield just before Tower Bridge. The lady was directing and asked for Mint Street. I asked did she mean Royal Mint Street which was literally a hundred yards away and she agreed. They began a deep kissing session which I had to keep interrupting to get further directions. I must have said “where now?” about five or six times before she tried to get me to drive through a no entry and make an illegal turn. I asked her what the name of her road was but she only knew how to direct me. She normally walked hence the dodgy directions. In between each direction they resumed snogging and the guy was trying to get her to let him go into her house with her but she wasn’t in the mood.
“What are you going to do in there all by yourself?” he asked. She gave him some excuse or other and said she’d call him and left the cab. Deflated, the guy asked me to take him to the Sunborn Yacht out by the ExCeL Centre in Docklands. From the telephone call that ensued I could only assume it was his wife he was going back to with the taste of another woman on his lips. Tut Tut!

All in all it was a good night and it only leaves me two more nights of work before I have a three day break for Christmas.

Happy Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the case

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Well, I’ve been on jury service for the last few weeks and have had to work as well so I haven’t had the energy to blog.

I won’t go into the details of the trial but it was an industrial espionage case involving phone tapping and computer hacking. The defendant was only on the fringes of the whole thing and after a short deliberation we agreed he was not guilty. He was very relieved and mouthed the words “thank you” over to us. The police officers on the other hand were not and shook their heads in disbelief at our verdict. The whole thing was an experience but financially it has taken its toll on me. The courts only pay you a certain amount, certainly not enough to cover what I’ve lost. I pity those people with a mortgage. Also I was lucky that the trial only lasted two weeks, some of the other jurors were on cases lasting from between three to six months, that would definitely have ruined me, as I’m sure it’s ruined some of them.

My regular cab is now in the garage going through its annual overhaul. The manager brought a Fairway round to me last Friday as I was busy in court and couldn’t get over to the garage. What a shit-cart!! There are at least a dozen things wrong with this cab but the main thing is that the suspension is actually non-existent. I may as well be driving a horse and cart. Two people have commented on the bumpiness of the ride and I’m sure many more would’ve loved to. I can’t wait to get the other one back.

I’ve been trying to do a bit of work most nights after finishing at the court but as tiredness has set in I’ve ended up going home early.

This week has seen work in abundance on the streets due to the Christmas parties taking place. Tonight it was “one in one out” everywhere and even as I finished there were still hundreds of people looking for cabs.

I was in the traffic at Notting Hill Gate when a guy came up to the window and asked if I would go to Wimbledon Village for twenty pounds. I said no and drove off and he tried to stop me pulling away by grabbing the window frame shouting “Oi, oi, wait!!”
People like him make me sick. Would he accept less money in his pay packet at work because his boss didn’t want to pay him the full amount?

I stopped with Chris tonight at Gloucester Road where we had a coffee. Whilst looking at all the lovely ladies walking past our cabs the conversation inevitably turned to sex.

EDIT: Next bit was removed by author as it may have caused offence.

Good Night all.