Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Forever Chasing

I am three and a half weeks behind with the cab rent. So, what’s new? Apparently nothing, as it’s the norm for me to be chasing hundreds of pounds to square the garage off. The good news is that another good, and I mean good, shift, will see me achieve my goal and I should be sorted by Wednesday afternoon. There aren’t even any repairs, minor or otherwise that need doing to the cab whilst I’m there unless a completely new suspension counts as a repair. The fact that the cab isn’t mine seems to soften the blow somewhat, but for the money I’m paying (eventually) I shouldn’t have to drive around in an old shitcart.

Anyhoo. The work is out there you just have to get your arse in the saddle and go and find it. I’ve only had a few days off since the turn of the year and apart from the first few days it seems to be ok work-wise. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary to report either which actually doesn’t make for a good post for the readers I’m afraid.

Tonight’s shift was amazing compared to all the other shifts I’ve done since the New Year for the simple reason that I earned a lot of money in a short space of time.
My football team, Leeds United, made a rare appearance on live TV so I had decided to stay in and watch the game, which we won by a goal to nil. Having this cab rent thing hanging over me I decided it was best to get out there. I started at 10pm, which is well late even for me and expected nothing from the shift.

The first job took me from Paddington out to the Isle of Dogs, a £35 ride. From there I went up onto Canary Wharf and ranked up on Cabot Square. I waited about 15 minutes and pulled off the rank, as it was extremely quiet. I made a circuit of the Wharf and trapped in Upper Bank Street, a couple of American businesswomen going back to the Isle of Dogs. After dropping them off I decided not to go back to Canary Wharf and drove through the Limehouse Link towards town. The yellow M of McDonalds caught my eye on The Highway so I drove in for a Hot Chocolate and a Chicken sandwich. The hot chocolate used to be great then they did something to it and it was all watery and now it’s almost back to how it used to be so it was quite enjoyable. As I drove out of the drive-thru a dodgy looking guy stuck his hand up and I lowered the window to see what he wanted. He only wanted to go all the way back to my side of town! Even if he did a runner I would still be in familiar territory so I took a gamble. As in most cases when you think the passenger is a wrongun he turned out to be the complete opposite and paid up no problem adding a good tip as well.

After another shorter trip I found my self in Kensington High Street. A couple looking and sounding hassled and harried flagged me down and asked for the Crowne Plaza Heathrow. Could the shift get any better? I was already into my first hundred in only a few hours. If only all nights could be like this.

The Xeta system was experiencing problems tonight so anyone wanting to do account work had to ring the office and be allocated the work manually. As I’m chasing cash today and tomorrow I couldn’t do any account work but Chris was out there tonight and he always likes to finish with an Underground job. After ringing the office on several occasions he was allocated a job with four pickups ending in Ruislip not far from his home near Watford.

I did a few more jobs and then called it a night after only four hours work. It had been a very productive four hours, which almost never happened.I think from next week people will start receiving their January pay packets so there will be more freaks and arseholes out there to make us cabbies lives a little more difficult. So until payday, take care out there.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Forget About It

So, I’ll start by wishing you all a Happy New Year and hopefully it will be a prosperous one for all of us.

I never worked New Year’s Eve or Day. The £4 extra that we’re entitled to add to the “extras” on the meter puts me off as far too many people complain. If I didn’t add it then I would think that I was mugging myself off so the answer is to not work at all until the meter has returned to normal on January the 2nd.

As my body clock is severely messed up at the moment I find myself sleeping late, as in 11am and 12pm late and getting up at around 7 or 8 and even 9pm and having to rush straight out the door. As I was rushing out my door this evening (Wednesday at around 9.30pm) I was hit by an icy blast of wind. Surely snow would come later that night or at least slippery, icy roads. I made a mental note to take it easy.

I drove towards Paddington and made it all the way to the back of a full rank. It was going to be a slow night, I could feel it in the air.

The line moved at a snails pace and I eventually made it to the front where I picked up a job to the Hilton Hotel at Euston. From there I drove towards the west end where I would be sure to trap a job. I got all the way through Kingsway, The Aldwych and round to the Strand without a sniff. Things must be bad. Onwards through the Admiralty Arch, the Mall, Buckingham Palace Road and round towards Victoria Station. I couldn’t even get on the back of the rank here without stopping on a Red Route and risk getting another fine so I drove round to the Raft for a cursory look but the situation was the same. Nothing for it but to go to plan B. Nosebag. I drove to my favourite Chinese Take Away in Battersea Park Road ordering by phone en route. This shop and others like it must be making an absolute fortune as people will always have to eat. I collected my Satay Chicken and Special Fried Rice and sat next to the park munching and listening to my ipod. Sufficiently nourished I set off for work again and decided to give Victoria another go. It was still busy with cabs but I managed to get onto the back of the rank next to Argos. Whilst sitting at the lights I snagged a job to Bayswater and then managed to put a little run together. Notting Hill Gate to the Moonlight Club in Greek Street, Soho. A nice one from Glasshouse street to Lower Richmond Road in Putney. Kings Road to Craven Cottage. Fulham Road to Chelsea Bridge Wharf and I finally ended up back on Victoria where an American family of four with enormous luggage (5 huge cases) struggled to get in and asked to be taken to the Citadines in High Holborn all rounded off with a four pound tip.

As I was dropping that last job off Chris rang me to ask if I was close as he was holding a cash job to Harrow for me at Baker Street Station. What a pal!! He’s always been a thoughtful person as long as I’ve known him. It would’ve done him to go home but he already had an Underground job and was waiting for his passengers. I flew round from Holborn and my passenger was sitting in Chris’s cab enjoying the warmth and no doubt being highly entertained by Chris as well. I thanked Chris for the favour and set off for Harrow.

That was my final job of the night and I’d managed to earn the best part of one and a half or as Paradise Driver would write it - 9 fares / 50 miles / 2nd quarter £200 bracket –
Not bad for about four hours in the saddle.

Last night Michael and me started watching a documentary about the real Donnie Brasco and about how he infiltrated the New York Mafia. It's one of those films that just seem to have passed me by the first time around so by the end of the documentary we just had to somehow obtain a copy of the film ASAP. I went on Amazon.co.uk and bought it for only a few pounds but would still have to wait for it to be delivered. Not satisfied I went-a-huntin for it on the net and after five hours I had a copy of it on my hard drive or should I say my external hard drive. It was now 10am (this was Wednesday morning before I’d slept and worked last night). I went to check to see if Michael was awake but he was snoring away on the settee so I watched it my self and actually felt sorry for Lefty who would pay the penalty for allowing Donnie Brasco into his confidence. So fast forwarding to 2am on Thursday morning after finishing my shift with Chris’s gift, I arrived home and Michael was gagging to watch the film. I made myself a large cup of tea and Michael poured himself a glass of orange Fanta and we plotted up on my bed with Dude the Jack Russell squashed in between us to watch it on this very computer. One of the catchphrases from the film was “forget about it” which can be used in four or five scenarios. We haven’t stopped saying it all night. The film finished at 4.45am and we both felt a bit peckish so we went down to the Royal Oak Taxi Centre for a fry-up. We were the only one’s in there except for another cabbie who was pumping all his nights takings into the fruit machines. He had several wins but put all the money back and eventually left glum and empty handed. We left and went home via the Esso in Sutherland Avenue where we bought a few essentials and finally got home around 6.10am. It is now 7.12 and I’m still not tired so I guess the body clock will have to stay messed up for another night.

Take Care Out There