Friday, March 19, 2010

Do You Take Credit Cards Driver?

Hi folks, its been a while.

Since my Happy New Year post its taken this long for the work to pick up. Some evenings have been really bad but its definitely getting better out there as the economy repairs itself and people now have those extra few shekels which enable them to go out in the evening and afford a taxi home afterwards.

After months of umming and ahhing I decided to sign up with a credit card company thus managing to stop the flow of jobs I was having to refuse from getting away. To date I've only done about six jobs and the first payment has just gone in to my account this morning. The clincher was when one evening a few weeks ago I was approached by a drunk couple who'd been to the Boujis nightclub and asked if I took cards. I said no and after walking down the line of cabs on the South Kensington rank they came back to me and said that if I took them they would go home, collect a bank card and then go to a cashpoint and get me my money. Sounded ok to me so I took them. They were both very drunk and and soon nodded off. When I got to their area in the Kennington district I had to shout out to wake them for directions. I eventually stopped on Kennington Park Road but had driven quite a ways past their house. The girl got out as I waited with her drunk partner. After a while she came back and said she couldn't find her card and started getting hysterical as she only had a few hours left to get some sleep before work in the morning. Her partner woke and they both walked back towards her house which was about a hundred yards behind me on a busy road. I wasn't overly concerned as in my opinion they weren't the type to not pay so I sat there....and sat there...and sat there!!! I eventually U-turned and drove to where I guessed they'd entered their house. There were about three possible houses it could've been but I couldn't be sure so I sat outside for what seemed like half an hour with thirty something pounds on the meter and eventually had to drive off. They'd probably sat down to discuss the situation and passed right back out again. There's not really a lot one can do in that situation other than camp outside all night but it wasn't really an option so first thing in the morning I signed up for the credit card machine and its already proved invaluable late at night. Its of the chip and pin variety and works off a phone signal so as long as i'm in an area with coverage it will work. I also like the fact that it does debit cards as well but the 10% charge has already put a few people off. The thing is, on average, the meter rises by £1 when people get out to use a cashpoint so they might as well pay by card.

My Credit Card Machine

There's an unspoken rule that the cab who was driving ahead of you gets the next job. Common sense, good manners, etiquette call it what you like. So there I was driving down Earls Court Road one night last week. Its a two lane one way street and I was on the left. Up ahead on the right hand side I could see a hand go up and after a quick glance at my wing mirror I could see it was my job as the cab in the right lane was quite a way behind me. I pull in for the girl and she starts to get in. The cab in the right lane pulls up alongside me and starts mouthing that I'd nicked his job, opening his door as if to intimidate me into giving up the passenger. We had a heated exchange of words and insults as one would expect and he eventually pulled away empty handed giving me a one handed salute. Now, on the flip-side I was dropping off in Kings Road and as that passenger paid me there was another one waiting to get in. There's another unspoken rule that if you've just dropped off and there's cabs For Hire behind you then you send the passenger back to them. It was Friday night, my windows were steamed up, there was absolutely work on every street corner so I thought nothing of it as the next passenger got in and asked for Walton Street. Alongside pulls the cab that was behind me and starts the usual "are you sure mate?" In this case I explained why I did it but he said I should know better and I suppose he was right. I offered him the job but the passengers, not knowing the reason as to why, refused to get out. The other cabbie drove round me and was hailed immediately putting an end to a sticky situation but also highlighting the need to maintain cab etiquette at all times coz "if the machine breaks down, we break down" (Midnight Express).

The cab is now a year and a few months old but giving me trouble free motoring on a daily basis. Paying through the bank as I do I am seldom up at the garage. I recently took it up there for a 30k service and was offered a newer (brand new) TX4 if I could find another driver to take mine on but alas all my mates have their own cabs and to be honest I'm quite happy driving my one as its better the devil you know and all that jazz. I did pick up a great big lump of metal in one of the wheels which as soon as I pulled it out deflated the wheel but I've since had the spare replaced and all is well.

I recently got a distress call from my sister telling me my mum's car had broken down. She was collecting my dad from his 3 times a week dyalisis at Northwick Park Hospital in her aging Peugot 205. It was rush hour and took me and Jane the best part of an hour to get to her. By then the police had attended and pushed her car off the road. It transpired that the car had cut out and rolled back onto an ambulance (mum reckons the ambulance hit her) and they had called the police. Any way I tried to jump start it but after a few attempts we called the RAC and the guy that came out within 10 minutes said the alternator had packed up so with a dead battery the engine would keep cutting out. He boosted the battery for about fifteen minutes giving it enough power for me to get the car back to mums. The following day I bought a replacement alternator and fitted it myself and its been fine ever since, I really should have been a mechanic!!!

Take Care Out There.