Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Joy of Taxis

I don't like travelling by taxi. Sometimes it's inevitable, because I can't take the car for some reason.

"Oh, why don't you use public transport, then?" I am sometimes asked. Well, because I am always going from job to job and don't have enough time to wait a couple of decades for a bus in between.

Anyway, taxis. Firstly, it's like entering the driver's own little home. Now I don't blame the drivers for that - after all they spend a lot of time in the taxi - but that generally means that I have to listen to their music, which is always and without exception awful.

Secondly, I climb into the taxi and as I am fumbling to do up the seat belt, which is always different from any seat belt I have ever encountered before, the driver sets off as if from a pitstop in Formula One. This is, however, a money-saving exercise for me, as I have a firm personal rule never to tip a driver who sets off like a bat out of hell before I have fastened my seat belt.

Thirdly, there was once - luckily only once - Smelly Taxi Driver, who had apparently stepped into his taxi some days before we encountered him, and had never left it since.

Fourthly, there are taxi drivers who want to talk, even though I generally don't, and they ask where I'm going and what I'm going for. And usually I am travelling to the station to go and do a roleplay to help to train some doctors or other medics, and if I even try to explain any of this they then say - - fanfare - -

"Doctors talking to patients? But surely that's just common sense, isn't it? Surely they'd know how to do that without needing to be taught?"

Then they tell you about the terrible things that some doctor once said to their Great-Aunt Mary, and they never make the connection between this and what they've just said.

So it's easier to just say that I'm off to work in a hospital, and then they assume I'm a doctor, because I talk a bit posh, and then I feel obliged to deny it - - and I didn't want to be in this conversation anyway, or to hear the taxi driver's political opinions, and then to be expected to share them.

So on Friday Stephen had the car and I wanted to get a taxi back from the building where I was working in Leeds. Let us call it the Ugly Building, because that is an apt description.

The Ugly Building has two entrances, a long way from each other, and whichever door you ask the taxi driver to go to he always seems to be waiting at the other one.

So, determined to get it right, I went up to the man on reception and asked him if there was a particular name for this entrance, because I wanted to call a taxi. I hoped it would come quickly, because it was now snowing heavily.

Without a word to me, he picked up the phone and rang for a taxi. "Ugly Building, please".

"So will the taxi come to this entrance?"

"Oh yes. Ten minutes."

"But how will he know it's this entrance?"

"They know me. They'll know to come here." said Reception Man, as though to an idiot.

Twenty minutes went by. The snow was now up to the knees of passers-by so I returned to reception and asked after my taxi.

He rang Scummy Cars or whatever they were called.

"Two minutes," he said, and went off to lunch.

Another twenty minutes passed by, though it seemed longer. Passers-by were now travelling by dog sled.

I rang Directory Enquiries and asked for Scummy Cars. No such company, they said.

Using the tail lights of a sled for guidance, and dodging two or three polar bears, I blundered through the blizzard to the other entrance to see if Scummy Cars were waiting there.

"Ah yes," said the man on reception, "he was here five minutes ago, but he's gone now."

I rang my usual taxi company.

"Well if you'd rung half an hour ago, it would have been fine," they said, "but a lot of the drivers have gone home because of the snow so it will be at least an hour's wait."

Sobbing gently, I wandered out into the blizzard, explaining to the man on reception that I was just going out and might be some time. He didn't seem too bothered.

Through the whiteout, I spotted the words "Scummy Cars" moving slowly past me, on the side of what turned out to be a taxi.

I rushed at it, waving like a loon, and hurled myself across the windscreen to make quite sure he stopped.

By a miracle, he just happened to be my taxi, but quite where he was going when I flagged him down I wasn't sure.

"You'll have to direct me," he said, "I don't know Leeds very well."

I directed him. He took me home. I still hate taxis.


Blogger Jennyta said...

I'm surprised you didn't go back to throttle the idiot at the desk! I applaud your forebearance, Daphne. ;)
Btw, how about telling inquisitve taxi drivers that you work for MI6 and so can't talk about it?

8:35 am  
Anonymous Ruth said...

I hate it when taxi drivers say 'I'm not sure of the way, you'll have to direct me'.

If I knew the way, I wouldn't necessarily be taking a taxi.

12:01 pm  
Blogger WendyCarole said...

I hate taxis. I have to use them when called for emergency supply. All of them seem to have hidden seat belt bits.

But every now again you get a lovely driver like th eone who drove me home from hospital on Christmas eve

2:31 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

There appears to be some exaggeration in your account but I could be mistaken.

6:59 pm  

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