Since my last post I have been beavering away at work and running to standstill.
Talking about running I have had two of those in the last few months. One got away and one got caught.
The first one was a Scouser (native of Liverpool) who was suited and booted and wanting to be taken from the City out to Balham. I don't think he had running in mind when he got in, it was just an afterthought when he stopped for money. As we were passing through Clapham I stopped at a cashpoiint, as he'd asked me to do so at the start of the journey. I had no cause to worry as he was suited and booted and that gave him an air of respectability. I saw him walk over to the ATM which had quite a few people queueing to use it. I chose this opportunity to get my iPhone out and catch up with the latest Tweets. I glanced over periodically to see the progress of the queue and he was patiently waiting for his turn. Then, as if possessed by a demon, he took off like a thief in the night running into the traffic leaving me no chance of pursuit and with £23 on the meter. Bastard!!!!! In my earlier days as a fledgling cabbie I would have driven straight home feeling violated but I have learnt since then that's it's much better to carry on and you will soon forget all about it. That was the first runner I'd had for a long time and certainly wouldn't be my last as I found out a couple of weeks later.
Whilst driving along New Kings Road by Parsons Green a drunk guy flagged me down and asked for Gloucester Rd. We arrived opposite the station where he announced he needed to visit the cashpoint immediately opposite. I watched him walk over to it and then search his pockets for his wallet. Nothing. He walked back over, or rather staggered, with arms outstretched. I said "what's happening. Have you got my money?" He continued with his arms out and then as if he'd had a great idea said "hang on a sec" and walked into Courtfield Road and out of sight. I had Chris on the phone to me the whole time and I said "this bloke's doing a runner" and spun round and drove into Courtfield Road. The guy was running full pelt up the road, arms pistoning away. I drove alongside him calling him every name under the sun and he eventually ran out of steam and stopped completely out of breath. We then had a heated discussion with me remaining in the cab the whole time. It started off quite hostile as you would expect but after about ten minutes I think he had sobered up a bit and realised what an arsehole he'd been and eventually gave me his phone number, which I rang immediately to verify it. We agreed that I would call him in the morning to make arrangements for him to pay me and off he went. The next day I texted him a polite message which he answered straight away. He was very humble and apologetic and after I'd given him my bank details he transferred the money he owed me plus a fiver tip, £25 in all. So, one story that did have a good ending.
I did find that on the run-up to Christmas 2009 I had more problems with the public than ever before. More and more people are prepared to argue about the fare and find ways not to pay. I picked one lady up in the WestEnd and she waited until we had got all the way to the bottom of Queenstown Road before she decided to inform me that she needed to get money out. The only place available is the ATM at the Sainsbury's Local on the corner of Lavender Hill/Wandsworth Road. As luck would have it the ATM was out of order. She walked back to the cab and said "It's not working, what happens now?" I said "what happens now is that we drive to one that is working". "Oh no, I'm not doing that. I've got £11 pounds on me that will have to do" The meter had £21 on it and rising. What makes people think they can do that, can someone please tell me? Would you go into Tesco, make the cashier scan all your shopping and expect to be let off a tenner just because you were short? If your boss at work said "thanks for that weeks work you just did there, great job, unfortunately we can only give you half your wages this week, is that OK with you?" Would you turn to him and say "that's fine boss, no problem" Would you hell. So why do it to us? Anyway, to get back to the story, I made it clear I wanted the rest of my money and after digging around her bag she found a ten Euro note which I decided to accept rather than drive off empty handed. There was plenty of name calling and screaming in-between all this but i'll spare you all the details as for my New Years resolution I've decided not to be too controvertial, which may please some readers and piss off others but that's life.
So today being Monday and officially the first day of the Kipper Season all us cabbies now have the added worry of trying to make ends meet and trying to put that next meal on the table. It can be a struggle especially for the day shift but now in my twentieth year I'm sure I'll find a way.
Take Care out there today. It's bloody cold and icy. Brrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!
PS. Manchester United Nil Leeds United One. Get In There!!!!!!!!!!