Since my last post I have spent a week in the land of Spain where I go once a year with my mother. I never really enjoy it I just wait for the week to end and then return and get back in to my routine. I was a bit apprehensive of flying this time when I saw that my plane was to be an Airbus instead of the usual Boeing 737. But it all turned out ok and the return flight was the exact same plane as I sat in the same seat and noticed a few tell-tale marks that I’d seen on the way out.
When I arrived at Luton Airport last Wednesday (17th) Chris collected us and after dropping my mum at home he drove me to the cab garage to collect my cab. I rang the garage to let them know I was on my way and the owner got on the phone to tell me he thought that I was taking two weeks off and that he’d rented out my cab to someone else. I was to ring him the next day to see if he had anything else available. Fine, thought I. I’ll use this as an excuse to find another garage as I’d been wanting to try somewhere else for ages. Chris had a trade paper in the cab and we started looking through it and trying a few numbers. Nobody had any cabs immediately available and it was looking like I’d be taking an extended holiday. Just when I was getting used to the idea of an extra day off my regular garage rang me back to say that they had a TX4, which I could use for a few days. It’s the only one in the garage and the regular driver was away on holiday. I went straight round there to collect it. I’d heard a lot about these cabs such as the smoother suspension and the faster acceleration but at the end of the day it was just another cab, which would cost me another forty quid a week if I were to rent it permanently. I worked it for two shifts, Wednesday and Thursday, and to be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed and was actually glad to get my own TX1 back on the Friday. The owner told me he’d taken it to have the gearbox serviced but as soon as I drove it out of the garage I could smell the gearbox fluid burning on the exhaust, a smell that wasn’t there last week. I’ve been working it all week and have even driven to see my girlfriend who lives in Suffolk and the smell has been there permanently. I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it much longer so hopefully I’ll get a call from one of those other garages that took my details to tell me that they have a nice cab waiting for me.
On the work front it’s been pretty steady. I always think that after the school restart at the beginning of September the work picks up until Christmas and then dies off again.
About a week before I went to Spain I picked up three guys in the West End and they asked to be taken to Mile End. They were chatting away to each other and as I drove through Whitechapel one of them asked me to stop for cigarettes. I pulled in to the Shell garage on Whitechapel road and one of them got out. The one who seemed the most dominant of the three calls out to me and says (in a strong Russian accent) “hey, can you stop the meter?”
Me: What for?
Him: Because we are not moving.
Me: But you are still in the taxi enjoying the comfort.
Him: But we are not going anywhere.
Me: Tell me something, would you work for nothing?
Me: Well then. The meter stays on.
Him: OK I understand. Business is business.
The other guy returned with the cigarettes and we proceed. A few minutes down the road and the Russian (I think the other two were Scandinavian) says that we need to stop again to buy some Vodka. He’s actually getting on my tits now with the way he speaks to me but I play it cool and start looking for an open off license. He starts directing me to Roman Road and is telling the other two that they’re going back to his place to have a good drink. All of a sudden one of the Scandinavians asks me to stop and turns to the Russian to tell him that they’re not comfortable with whats happening. The other Scandinavian was very quiet and had his head bowed, as if embarrassed. The first man starts telling the Russian that they don’t mean to offend him but they just want to go back to their “nice, safe hotel” in Central London. The Russian starts getting all offended and tells them that in his country if you refuse to have a drink of Vodka with someone its taken as a massive insult. So this goes on for a few minutes with me sitting there, the meter ticking over and the other man sitting silently until eventually the Russian gets out leaving me to drive these two guys back to their hotel in Portman Square and pocket a nice fee of fifty pounds. There was definitely something dodgy about the Russian and they could see it. As soon as he got out the two Scandics started jabbering away in their own language and were laughing and joking with each other, no doubt relieved at the close shave they’d just experienced.
I had one bit of grief worth mentioning last month when a man approached me on the rank at Victoria. He asked me to take him to Enfield. As he opened the door another man got in instead. They were obviously together but only this man was going to Enfield and he was rat-arsed drunk and instantly fell asleep. As I wound my way through the streets he suddenly awoke and opened one of the doors whilst I was stopped at the traffic lights in Harewood Place. I thought he was getting out so I pulled over and stuck my hazards on, blocking everything behind me. He never got out so I asked him what he was doing and he told me to carry on, waiving me forward. I knew at that point I wasn’t taking him any further and asked him to pay up and get out. We started arguing and I jumped out and started shouting at him whilst everyone in the McDonalds enjoyed the show. He was accusing me of all sorts and reckoned it should only cost a tenner to Enfield from Victoria and that he’d done the trip many times before. I changed tactics and started talking to him more gently saying that I was trying to earn a living to support my family and was he always in the habit of ruining cab drivers nights etc etc and he eventually came round to my way of thinking, paid up and nearly got run over in Oxford Street as I drove away. I think I’m getting better at spotting the nutters and dealing with the situation before its too late and I’m caught out in the sticks seriously out of pocket.
The best four days of the week are upon us now so hopefully I can earn plenty and have a few stories to tell you over the next week.
Check back soon. LC