As you may (or may not) know I am currently filling my time and earning a few (very few!) quid by driving a taxi around the mean streets of Penzance. I am working for A Cars, a well established and well known firm of local taxis. I usually only work during the day, Mon-Fri but not Thursday. However, to (allegedly) supplement my income, I have also been working on Saturday nights, 6pm – 3am.
The two types of shifts i.e. weekdays and Saturday nights couldn’t be any more different.
In the day time I do a lot of picking up of old ladies from supermarkets, dropping kids off at schools and taking people to the station or the hospital. Customers are usually very friendly relaxed and grateful for the ride home. They tend to be where they say they are when they call for the taxi and are clear where it is they want to go. I help them in and out with there shopping or cases and all is calm.
They often want to have a little chat about the weather or some other very light topic and the journeys are usually short and enjoyable for both parties. Saturday nights are not like that.
Picking up from pubs is the worst. Here is a typical example from this Saturday.
A call is received in my office at 11.25. Punter wants picking up from a pub in Newlyn at 11.30. He says he will be waiting outside the pub. He wants to go into Penzance town centre. I am radioed with the job. I estimate total time for the job to be less than 10 minutes freeing me up nicely for another pick-up planned for 11.45 in Penzance town centre.
I arrive at the pub at 11.29, nobody waiting outside but as I am a minute early I wait. Six minutes go by, nothing happening. I get out of the precariously parked taxi and go into the pub. Unusually in the pub there are a total of four people. Two people behind the bar and two VERY old geezers with a table full of drinks in front of them. “Taxi” I call out, “no” they say. I try the (very disinterested) bar staff and ask if anyone has ordered a taxi, “no idea” they say. OK I think that’s enough. I leave the pub and get back in the taxi. I am about to pull off (ooer missus!) when a youngish chap who is clearly drunk runs up to the taxi saying “Are you a taxi?”. After I point out to him that I have the word TAXI in massive letters printed down the side of the vehicle and a bright ‘TAXI’ light on the top he says “OK good, be back in a minute”. Even though I am a bit frustrated I am also glad that my ‘fare’ is here and we shall soon be on our way.
Ten minutes go by and I never see the youngish man again. He has vanished, possibly abducted by aliens or fallen down a mine shaft or into the harbour. It is now 11.50 and not only have I not acquired this ‘fare’ my 11.45 punter has also disappeared when I get to where he should be, at 11.55. Probably got into a different taxi, cant blame him.
Pub pickups are always a problem. Here are some traits of these pick ups:
- When the customer says he will be waiting outside the pub at the specified time, he wont be. Guaranteed.
- Whatever pub you will go to for the pick-up will (normally) happen to be the busiest pub in town that night and so is absolutely jam packed with people, even though it is usually a very quiet pub.
- On your way into the massively busy pub nobody, but nobody including the bar staff has heard of a person with the name you are looking for so you have to spend 10 minutes trying to track him down.
- When you find the customer he will have a full pint in his hand and have a table full of drinks in front of him.
- He will insist on finishing every last drop before he is ready to leave. So you have to stand there looking like a lemon whilst he does this.
- OK so now he’s ready, progress. But strangely, on the way out of the pub where nobody knew the customer on your way in, it seems EVERYBODY knows him and wants to stop and have a chat/hug/handshake with him. Maybe get his mobile number as well which will entail him trying to remember how to work his ‘phone.
- Finally we’re out of the pub. Where does he want to go? Two or three minutes to decide destination.
- On the journey the customer will want to have a very in depth conversation about football or he will talk about the problems he is having with his girlfriend coming close to tears at a couple of points.
- We arrive after a five minute journey (could have walked?)! Now we have to have another five minutes whilst he searches through all of his pockets trying to come up with the exact money for the fare. Eventually he will just give me a £10 note anyway.
- Another minute to say goodbye to me about 10 times and then he’s off. I am free!
Anyway that is just how it is on a Saturday. The whole evening is just filled with scenes that usually only appear in the movies. Dramas, problems, delays and frustration. Maybe I should not work on a Saturday and go to the cinema instead.