Friday, July 13, 2007

PICTURE WARNING!! Not for the faint hearted.

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong these last few days. For one reason or another I have lost the impetus to work full shifts and have only managed half shifts or days off. It started on Monday when I was asked to make up the numbers in the darts team. As it turned out we won for the first time this season. I think a lot had to do with the new darts I bought myself at Gerry’s of Wimbledon last week but the rest of the team would beg to differ, especially one player, Steve, who managed to score his first ever 180.

On Tuesday I was just gearing myself up for an early start when my brother in law rang me for directions to a far away place. His Tom Tom software recently got erased from his PDA and he needed to take four Indian guys on a two hundred mile road trip to Llangollen in North Wales. It was a complicated route so I decided to stay at home and constanly update him via the phone. The journey was a nightmare for him as it had started during the rush hour. About five hours into the trip and they changed their destination to Chester, near Liverpool. The meter total was £706 and there seemed to be a problem getting the money together. I was listening the whole time on the phone and caught comments such as “It’s a lot of money” from one of the passengers followed by “yeah and it’s a long journey as well” from my brother in law. He hadn’t expected to be paid the full amount on the meter and had sugested they pay £600 but after much screwing around he eventually cut his losses and settled for five. I then had to guide him to the M6 for the journey home and only when he was safely London-bound did I decide to go out for a few hours myself. I managed a multi pickup and drop LUL job from Earls Court eventually ending in West Sutton to finish my shift about five hours later. The brother in law was only just reaching London’s outer limits by then. He took the next day off through fatigue so lost the gains he’d made the day before. Sometimes these “roaders” are just not worth it.

Yesterday I paid a visit to my parents’ house. My mum was flapping because her nine-year-old washing machine, which she’d recently spent a fortune on getting repaired, was on the blink yet again. She was in a dilemma about whether to have more repairs done or to buy a new one. I convinced her to get a new one with a five-year warranty and drove her straight to Comets before she could change her mind. The one she wanted wasn’t in stock so she picked another one, which was, and I put it in the cab and drove her and the machine back home. It was easy enough to plumb in, something I’ve done a half dozen times before. I told her I’d get rid of the old one and she tried to get me to remove all the new parts from it such as the new water pump and an extra long waste pipe that was attached to the pump. I checked the pipe against the new one and found it wouldn’t fit but she took it and put it away “just in case it comes in handy one day” but the water pump went with the machine which I left for the bin men to collect. By the time I got home I was knackered so only managed a few hours in the saddle before calling it a night.

This morning my legs were as stiff as boards after all the heavy lifting yesterday and I barely managed to walk downstairs. I had to go back to my parents’ house to connect a TV up so that my mum could watch her beloved novellas (soap operas) on the Spanish satellite channel TVE. I had a bite to eat up there then came home to nap for a few more hours. I was at work by 6.30pm and it started pretty slow. It eventually got busier and I trapped a nice job down to East Croydon. I was making my way back to the Kensington area to await an LUL job. The LUL jobs were just being issued on the radio when I trapped, what looked to me like a drugged up girl wanting to go to George St. I thought to myself that it would only take about ten minutes and even if I got offered an LUL job I would have time to get back and do it. So, I’m northbound on Park Lane and the smell hits me.

Me: Don’t tell me you’ve got sick?
Girl: Sorry
Me: For fuck sake what’s wrong with you women?
Couldn’t you have asked me to pull over?
Girl: I didn’t know I was going to be sick.
Me: I bet if you were at home you would have run to the toilet.
Girl: I’m really sorry. I’ll pay for it.
Me: You’re dam right you’ll pay for it and it’s gonna cost ya fifty quid!!

I was in danger of losing control and the expletives were flowing a bit too freely so I decided to check myself and calm down. I think she was a bit frightened and I’d hate that to be my daughter being insulted in the way I was insulting her but as I’ve said before when I lose it anything’s possible. She asked me to stop at the next ATM and asked how much she’d need to take out. We were at Marble Arch by now and there was twelve forty on the meter. I’m entitled by law to ask for up to forty pounds and one look at the carpet told me it would have to go. I told her fifty would cover it. Whilst she was at the ATM I took a picture of the puke. As well as the puke on my carpet she had a lot of it on her clothes too. She got back in and I drove her home to George Street where she handed me the fifty pounds and ran, embarrassed I should think, into her building. I drove straight home and washed as much out as I could and hopefully there’ll be no smell there in the morning. We’ll see. I was quite gutted as I wanted to do a bit more work but from past experience it’s best to try and neutralize the smell before picking up passengers as they can always tell.

The cab payment thing never happened on Wednesday like I thought it would so unless I can scrape £400 tomorrow by close of business it will be £600 due on Monday.

59 Days to go for my holidays.

Check back soon.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Nice and peaceful

It’s noticeably much more peaceful and quiet around here since my daughter went on holiday last week. No rows with her brother Michael. No “where’s this dad?” “where’s that dad?” “Can I have some credit for my phone?” “ Can you drop me to school?” I think I’m benefiting from the undisturbed sleep-in in the mornings as I go to work feeling completely relaxed and relatively stress-free. I think even the dog notices she’s not here as he spends more time pestering me to keep him entertained. She’ll be there for another few weeks so I’ll make the most of it while I can.

I attended one of my cabby mates’ 25th Wedding Anniversary yesterday. The weather stayed fine after all the rain we’ve had and there was plenty of food and drink for everyone. I spent a lot of the day standing and really felt it in my legs this morning.

London has been hosting several events in the last week that have caused roads to be closed causing major traffic problems. For the last few days the Tour de France has been preparing to start and there have been trials and the start of the race proper was today. (Can anybody tell me why the Tour de France is starting in London?) All the routes through the center of town have been seriously disrupted and some fares have gone double what they should have, some even treble. I did one job from Great Queen Street to Victoria Station, which would normally go a tenner, and at the drop off the fare was twenty-five pounds and the guy was squealing like a pig at the journeys end. It’s great if you haven’t got a conscience but unfortunately I have and often find myself knocking a few quid off.

I think it must be open season for kids to throw stuff at taxis. Another kid recently threw an apple at me but it bounced off the side of the cab. Whilst driving back to town through Barnes a few days ago I saw another boy getting ready to throw something at me but I slammed on the brakes and screamed at him and he ran into his house. Little buggers!!

The payments from my radio work have started to come through each week and it’s really helping me sort my finances out. The cab rent will be paid by Wednesday with only two weeks owing, which is good going for me. I’m compiling a list of problems that are actually now pissing me off and I am going to demand something is done. As I’ve said before I could change garages but I don’t want to and I can’t ask for another cab because they are reducing their fleet because of recent changes in the emissions laws which is causing the sale of the older cabs. It’s just a matter of putting aside some time so that it can be spent in a cramped office drinking lots of coffee and talking a lot of bollocks with similarly pissed off cabbies while the work on the cab is carried out.

A few days ago, I think it was Friday night, I picked up an extremely posh couple as they frantically waved me down in Piccadilly. “You’re like goldust tonight” the man said to me. Not really in a talkative mood (am I ever?) I mumbled something back and off we went towards Kensington. “Do you know we’ve been looking for a cab for the last twenty minutes?” the woman piped up. What could I say but “Oh yeah?” “Yes. We started off at the Embankment and eventually had to get a bus to here. I’ve never felt so humiliated in my life.” They looked ordinary enough to me; in fact I wouldn’t have given them a second glance so God knows why they’d feel humiliated to be riding on a bus. I suppose you’d have to be stuck-up to think that way in the first place. I nearly said something along the lines of “What, are buses not good enough for people like you?” but as ever I held my tongue and received a £2 tip for doing so. Sometimes you just have to keep schtumm!!

I’m counting down the days (63) until my own holiday on the 10th of September. I’m flying to Alicante where I will hire a car and drive to my parents’ flat in Torrevieja in southern Spain. I’ve even bought the Tom Tom map of Spain and Portugal so that I can use my satnav over there. Bring it on.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Oh Sh**!!

It’s all happening here in London, again. 2 car bombs in the West End and one up in Glasgow. The fact that they failed to go off matters not. What does matter is that we’ve all got to be on the look out for these maniacs and suffer the repercussions that normally comes with these events such as a drop in business as tourists decide to give London a miss for another year. There’s no point asking why as we all know the answer. What does get me is that these people, for the most part are British citizens. They’ve chosen to settle here or have even been born here and have enjoyed the freedoms and benefits a country like ours provides. To go and do what they’re doing makes no sense. They haven’t suffered as a result of Britain’s foreign policy. It’s a mad mad mad world and it’s gonna get worse.

So, early on Sunday morning, in the midst of all the extra security at our airports, I drove my daughter and her grandparents to Gatwick Airport to catch a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina where after a three hour wait they would catch another plane to San Diego for a three week stay with my daughters mother. As it happened, it wasn’t too painful and they have since landed and been collected and even sampled the delights of a Denny’s diner. My father in law was amazed at the size of the steak he was served and I told him to expect more of the same wherever they ate as it’s a well-known fact that everything’s bigger and better in America.

I had some work done on the suspension of the cab last week. Ball joints, tracking, shocks and bushes and it’s still a heap of shit. Every seam and bump in the road can be felt, how nobody has complained so far is beyond me. Another problem it has is when under load and going uphill there is a strong smell of burning transmission fluid as it must be leaking onto the exhaust somewhere. I told them this and they changed the oil instead of trying to find the leak. Other than that it’s performing pretty well and earning me loads of money.

The Xeta is still not pumping out the work but as long as I can do at least £50 a day on it I’m happy. I was doing a London Underground job yesterday where you have to pick up and drop of between 1 and 8 people. The job I did was a three-person pickup and the first passenger was out before the other two got in. The second passenger got in at Gloucester Road and had to connect with another taxi in Acton. My Third passenger was late. In fact she never appeared at all and the one already in the cab was fretting about missing her connection. I got onto control and was told I’d be contacted once a few calls had been made to LUL (London Underground Limited). Fifteen minutes later, no passenger, no phone call and plenty of grief from the pretty one in the back. She’s trying to ring her supervisor on her phone but is also having crappy luck. It’s all starting to get stressful. Another fifteen minutes later and nothing. Ten minutes after that I’ve had enough. Don’t they realize we’re human and that we’ve got emotions? I shouldn’t really give a shit because I get my money whatever happens but these people we’re picking up and taking home have done their days work and have to hang around like cattle whilst incompetent arseholes figure out where the network has broken down. I call control trying not to “lose the rag”. “Any chance of someone letting me know what the hell’s going on?” “I beg your pardon?” comes the reply. There’s only one or two controllers in the office at night and this voice was new to me. “This is Delta x x at Earls Court Station. I rang almost forty minutes ago to inform you that my final passenger was late and now she’s forty minutes late and the other passenger I have is worried she’s going to miss her connection can somebody please sort this out quick before I explode!!!” The controller puts me on hold to some nice 70’s Soul tune; I think it may have been Luther or Lionel. She’s back on the line in less than 60 seconds and tells me to leave without the final passenger. That was a shame because the final passenger was going to Southall and it would mean that the job would end after the one in the back got out at Acton. Clutching at straws I asked the controller that if my passenger’s connection has gone can I make a job of it and take her home to Sudbury? “No we’re not authorized to do that she’ll have to contact LUL herself” “What a bunch of cunts” I thought to myself as I hung up the phone and gave the passenger the bad news. Needless to say we arrived at Bollo Lane in Acton and her connection was long gone which would then leave her stranded at 2am in a dark and dodgy area. She tried to ring her supervisor a few more times and looked ready to cry as she got no reply. Fuck it; I was finished anyway so I drove her home to Sudbury free of charge. She was extremely grateful and thanked me profusely. It was time for a good deed anyway so hopefully it will reflect in some good luck for me anytime soon. Here’s hoping. As I was making my way home the controller rang and asked me where I’d dropped the passenger as her connection was waiting for her. Oh Shit!!