I’m often asked, “Do you like driving a Taxi in London?”. The answer depends on a number of things which usually center around money and time off. At the moment, the bills are paid and we have just had a family weekend away, so it’s all good, but on another day it would be easy to slip into bemoaning my lot. All jobs have their ups and downs. In this one, you are in control of it most of the time.

Even after 13 years behind the wheel, I still get a quickening of the pulse when I put the window down for the lottery of a street hail. We pick up businessmen and women, travelers, revellers, broken down drivers, cyclists with punctures and of course, the one that everyone wants to hear about the celebrities. I was on Finchley Road one night about 2am by a fella waving a hubcap, presumably from his BMW a few yards ahead.

“Would you change my wheel for a fiver?”

Had he been elderly or otherwise unable to do it himself, I would have obliged but he freely admitted he just didn’t want to get dirty. There is a limit to my goodwill.

When you are in London and you simply have to get there it, it has to be a London Taxi. Believe it or not, when your journey is time sensitive, your driver is feeling the pressure too, even if it is by proxy, so please be realistic. Whilst we’re good, we have been asked to get from one side of a very busy central London to the other side in four minutes and it just isn’t possible. Whilst I keep it to myself, I always do indulge in a wry smile when I’m asked to “avoid the traffic”. There are no special routes for people in a hurry and there is only one level of service: GOLD. It wounds my professional pride if a customer doesn’t get to a destination in good time, even if I knew it was almost impossible when they got in the cab but I do get a buzz when we make it.  The guy in the Saville Row suit that costs the price of a decent second-hand car gets the same service level as the supermarket shopper that justs want to go around the corner.

Daytime London Taxi drivers are the ones under the most pressure from traffic but night guys and girls have to wear many hats. Dealing with often inebriated passengers isn’t the sole domain of a night driver but we tend to get the lions share. I’ve worked out that the soundest method of dealing with a difficult merrymaker who is tired and emotional is not to be confrontational. I will agree with almost every pearl of wisdom proffered from the back whilst trying not to appear condescending and crossing the toes on my redundant left foot, that they doze off sometime soon. Only then, can I relax and enjoy the late night roader hoping that I can wake them up when the journeys over.

I did take a woman home once, who was so drunk she had forgotten she had left her husband, but that’s for another time



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