Taxis are the necessary evil in my life. Only having received my UK driver’s license a few months ago, I am sans vehicle. I rely on taxis for 5:00 AM train journeys and just as early long haul flights. I also make use of them for the many trips I take to the hospital and occasionally when I am too tired to take the bus to town.
Photo by it’s me neosiam on Pexels.com
When I lived in the US, my use of taxis was minimal – they usually smelled like month old piss or the drivers were late and obnoxious.
When I was a teenager visiting Barbados, I took a few taxis. One driver threatened to put my friends and I out on the highway for questioning the suspiciously high fare.
When I was visiting Liverpool during the Grand National races, I got legless (drunk as a skunk for those not accustomed with the term). I vomited in the black cab and as a result had to pay a £50 ($64 USD) supplement for this embarrassing act.
I recall a taxi driver in Boston attempting to run over my friends and I in reverse in front of our apartment building.
My point is that I have had some interesting run-in with taxis. Most that I could look back and laugh about. None of my taxi rides led to a missed flight, missed doctor’s appointment and certainly nothing that has caused me to fear for my life and break down in tears.
With my increased dependency on taxis over the last few years, my negative reports have surmounted to numerous complaints and at personal boycotting of three firms.
It’s not like I am going to catch a bus….
Usually a person who books a taxi is doing so because they have something to do, something with a targeted time against it. If I book a taxi from my house to the airport, chances are I am not going to Manchester Airport with the intent of purchasing a donkey for an onward journey. I am booking this taxi to catch a flight somewhere.
Last year, Arrow Cars, a taxi firm that is dedicated to airport journeys dispatched a taxi that showed up one hour late. This MIGHT have been acceptable if I was going into town for a drink with my friends and even then I’d probably ring up the taxi office and complain but the problem was I was going to Dubai for a business trip. I missed my flight, my company lost money, and the taxi company wouldn’t even offer me a complimentary ride home. When I complained in writing, somehow the blame was placed on me, no accountability was accepted by the taxi firm and not even a standard UK apology of “we are sorry you feel that way” was offered. I now refuse to use this firm’s service. It might seem like a drastic measure but I feel content that I am not contributing Arrow’s bottom line.
Last month a driver of my local taxi firm was 15 minutes late to pick me up for another trip to the airport. When I called the dispatcher to query the location of the taxi, the dispatcher began yelling at me and telling me to be patient. When I, in turn began yelling and demanding an apology from him because of the company’s obvious fuck up, he put down the phone on me. The driver collected me and when I began to question him about the delay (it was 4:30 in the morning – there wasn’t a stitch of traffic), my man started to give me a speech about the bus and other public transportation carriers being late and asking how I deal with those scenarios. I forcefully reminded him that a taxi is not public transportation where costs are spread amongst all those riding the bus and told him that if I were him, I would just drive and cease the argumentative behaviour before I took further action. Of course the events of this particular morning prompted me to write a scathing review on several platforms (if you insult me, especially when I am paying for a service, I make it my mission in life to injure your business as much as possible). After these written assassinations, I was called by the taxi firm manager who apologised profusely but if I am not being compensated, it really amounts to nothing.
A local taxi firm I no longer use, Scotts, employs some of the most unprofessional psychos I have ever encountered. One sunny day, I went into my local office which was temporarily housed at the Manchester Airport (I can’t escape that place!). I was picked up by a cute guy, my age if not a year or two younger. We drove in near silence with the exception of the usual chit chat “Where are you from?” “Oh, I thought you were American.” “Why’d you leave America?” “I’d love to go to America” “Your accent’s boss”. The journey was quick and unremarkable. I thought nothing more of it upon entering my office. That was until an hour after being dropped off I received a call from a number I didn’t recognise. It was the driver, lets call him Sid. He sounded weird. I asked him if I’d left something in the car while I surveyed my desk to make sure I had my work phone, handbag, etc. “No” he said “he wanted to talk to me”. Okay, what in the France did Sid the Taxi Man have to discuss with me, a passenger who’d barely made his acquaintance. I politely advised him that I had meetings and needed to get off the phone. This didn’t stop Sid who phoned me several times after this and then again on Saturday. He sent me a text message telling me that he liked me and asking me to calling him REPEATEDLY. After a few days, I became really nervous. My mum and aunt were excited at the prospect of free taxi rides and I was scared thinking some man was going to jump out on me in the middle of the night. I stopped using Scotts after this and block Sid’s number but for about 6 months, every time I took a taxi, I had butcher’s knife in my bag. I had no plans of becoming some Snapped story line. A few months after this all happened, my colleague got in Sid’s taxi and told me all about Sid’s wife and children. You sick bastard Sid!
Twice this summer I was picked up a kind man on my way to catch a 5:00 AM train to London. He wasn’t rude and made polite conversation (even if it was too damn early for me engage in pleasantries). On the first trip, he fell asleep on my road while driving. I started talking to him in an attempt to wake him up and keep him awake. He insisted he was fine and wasn’t asleep but having fallen asleep behind the wheel in my younger years, I knew damn well this man was tired AF. I told my family about the encounter and thanked God that I arrived at the train station in once piece. I also prayed that he survived the rest of his shift. The next week I was due to go to London again. Sleepy Sam pulls up again. And. He. falls. Asleep. Again. Only this time I was more scared than the last time and actually quite shaken when I arrived at the train station. I insisted that he not pick me up again. He hasn’t and I feel bad if I impacted his employment in anyway but you can’t be sleepwalking your way through life and especially when I haven’t had my eggs cracked and my name dropped.
These encounters show no promise of decreasing. Every time I take a taxi, I get in knowing full well this might be fodder for another funny story at Christmas time but equally I become full of anxiety with every journey and preparing myself to argue and/or cuss someone out. Taxi life in the UK is dread.
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