Since my last post, I suppose the main news I have to tell you is that finally, after moaning and bitching about the state of my cab for the last couple of years, I have finally done something about it and moved on to another garage and am now the proud renter of a brand spanking new TX4 Silver.
It's costing me another £40 per week but after having driven it for the last few days I'm sure I've made the right decision.
On a recent return trip from Ipswich I was driving an R reg TX1, as my V reg was in overhaul, and I couldn't even overtake a group of lorries on the M25 as that particular cab had no guts. It was quite embarrassing as I got stuck between a lorry and a van and I think they were messing with me and there was nothing I could do about it.
A day or two later my mate SilverChris, not the other Chris, rang to say that the garage that does work on his cab had just purchased four brand new TX4's and was looking for reliable drivers so after a bit of a think I decided to take the plunge.
Now came the tricky bit. To tell my current garage that I was leaving them for pastures new. Anyone that knows me will know that I can be a bit of a pussy when it comes to confrontations and face-to-face exchanges. So, on the Thursday morning just gone, there I am lying in my pit pondering the meaning of life when my garage rings to say that my V reg is ready for collection after having just been overhauled. OK says me I'll be there in a bit. Now bear in mind I've already agreed with the new garage that I'll be renting from him as soon as the cab is available. 2 minutes later the bloke at the new garage rings to say the TX4 is ready and waiting and what time will I be going to collect it? Panic sets in as my brain tries to absorb these two bits of information. Anyone else reading this would say, "what's the problem? Just give one cab back and go to the other garage and get the nice shiny new one. It's a no brainer" but as I said I have always had a problem leaving one garage for another and over my eighteen years as a cabby have had my wife, mother in law and even Chris go into various garages with some story or other just so that I didn't have to face the owner. None of the above three were instantly available to get me out of this one so I decided to stop being such a wimp and to ring my garage back. One of the mechanics answered and said the owner had just popped out. “Result!!” Thought I. I hung up, jumped out of bed and raced round there so that I could give the cab back to one of the other guys and tell them I wouldn't be back, citing personal reasons. As I approached the garage my heart sank as the owner was standing there chatting to another driver. He waved at me in his friendly Greek way and my brain started ticking as to what I was going to say to him. "Hello mate" I said to him. "I should have rung you a few days ago as I have to go away for a few weeks to sort out some family trouble in Spain" (Where the hell did that come from, I thought). "Nothing serious I hope" says the owner. "I can't really say but I'll ring you as soon as I know when I'll be coming back" "No problem, I hope it all works out" he says all concerned. I felt a bit annoyed with myself at having to deceive him like that as I've always got on well with him and effectively, this would be the last time I would probably ever see him again. Still, that's a part of me that I can't do anything about so I'm stuck with it. I paid him for the three days I owed him and left to make my way to the new garage. As I walked down Holloway Road towards the tube station I felt like I was starting out on a new adventure and even felt a tingle of excitement. After studying the tube map at Holloway Station I deduced it would be too awkward to get the tube as I would have to go south to go north so I bought an Oyster Card and got two buses to Edgware where the new garage is situated. Having been behind the wheel of a cab for so long it felt strange to be on the top deck of a London bus. I sat at the back and read a paper. I changed buses at Friern Barnet and boarded the number 221 and after a few stops the bus was invaded with school kids. They all made their way upstairs and sat all around me and started messing about, throwing things at each other and annoying all the passengers who chose to move away leaving me isolated in the corner at the back. I just continued reading and thought that I would just ignore all the noise even though I found it all quite intimidating. Stop by stop the school kids disembarked and soon all was quiet and orderly again. The bus terminated at Edgware so I got off and was suddenly overcome with the urge to eat as I had been on the go for the last few hours. I went in to the KFC there and had a filet tower burger and a diet coke and walked the short distance to the garage. As I arrived at my unfamiliar new garage, the boss, who had been expecting me, guessed it was me by saying my name and I shook his greasy hand and entered his office to fill in forms and hand over a weeks rent up front. Once the formalities were over he took me outside to show me round the shiny new black cab. One thing that caught my eye straight away was the Blaupunkt CD player and an auxiliary lead protruding from it. This would enable me to hook up my beloved iPod and continue to enjoy my music as I have done in the other cab via the tape deck and a dummy cassette. We shook hands again and he reiterated that he'd like me to pay promptly every Thursday or Friday as he had payments to meet. I thought to myself that if he'd spoken to my previous garage to see if I was a prompt payer then he may not have taken me on but I have been a much better payer in recent months so I don't anticipate any problems. As I drove away the throttle stuck down and I had to brake with the engine racing. "What now" I thought to myself. I immediately put it in reverse and let the revs take me back to the garage entrance where the boss was standing there. I told him the throttle was stuck and he opened my door and saw immediately that the pedal had caught on the mat (which incidentally was an old manky one pulled out of an old cab and spoiling the look of the new cab). He said I could either remove the mat or trim it and I drove away again. Being in the same neighbourhood as my parents I took the opportunity to visit them and then made my way home to prepare for my nights work in the new cab.
So, as I write this I've done a couple of shifts and am now getting used to the cab. There are many differences to a TX1 but it eventually falls in to place and I know I have made the right choice. I'm looking forward to my next visit to Ipswich and to get my own back on all those lorries on the M25 and A12 ! !
So all that remains is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2009.
Take Care Out There ! !