I became a taxi driver because:
I needed to earn some money,
I enjoy serving others,
I enjoy meeting people,
I enjoy driving,
I could not find an occupation that I both wanted to do and was qualified for.
Taxi driving is a self employed profession. The drivers usually fall into two categories. They either own their own vehicle or rent it from a company that owns a fleet. The deal for the rent can be a certain fixed amount per week or a percentage of the driver’s takings. That is the deal I had. I payed half my takings to the company. They in turn paid half my fuel costs and all of the upkeep costs of the vehicle including insurance. They also took phone bookings and passed them on to the drivers.
I worked with TLC which I thought was short for Tender Loving Care but instead is short for Taunton London Cabs. This was because many years ago when the company was started they had some London style cabs. Now, in Taunton, many of the taxis are Fiat Doblo. This is because they are high enough to be converted to accommodate wheelchair users.
TLC is a fairly small outfit with about six regular drivers during the day and a few regular customers. The good thing about this is we could hear everything that went on over the radio. In larger companies the drivers could only hear the controller. Hearing everything enabled me to feel part of a team. I knew where all the drivers were, who was out on a job, where they were going, who was popping into a shop to get some lunch etc.
We had a really great team and the owners, husband and wife were lovely too. I enjoyed ferrying our regular customers and also meeting new ones. We spent quite a time waiting at the taxi rank and I would use this waiting time to eat, drink herbal tea and water, reading and on the internet on my iPad when I could get a wi-fi signal. I would also talk to my family on the phone and via Skype. They became used to me saying, “Must go now. Gotta customer. Bye!”
Our customers were real characters. We had an 80 year old gentleman who used to be a vet, owning his own practice, but now had problems with his memory. His wife was in a residential facility and his sons, who both lived in the USA arranged for us to ferry him back and forth twice every day to see her. David wrote everything down on little bits of paper to make sure he got to the correct room she was in, to remind himself of where he lived and when the taxi was picking him up. He was a real gentleman and it seemed that everyone who met him liked him. He was always bothered that someone would go into his flat and let the cat out because if they did then the elderly cat would manage to find his way back to their old house in a village outside Taunton. His flat was strewn with notes on reminders to himself and instructions to anyone who came in to clean etc. Several notes told the reader. “Don’t let the cat out!!!”
I remember several times with him. Once when he was convinced that he needed to go to the bank and do some shopping and was cross with me because I wouldn’t drop him off at the bank. I told him I was paid to take him home so that is what I was doing. He was annoyed that he would have to walk back into town after I dropped him off. I suggested he have his lunch first and hoped that he would forget about it when he realised he had plenty of food at home.
Another was when his wife had recently been moved to the present facility and the staff did not know him well. They were worried that he wasn’t being looked after at home because he had a shopping list and was telling everyone he had to go get that stuff. I explained that a visiting carer would be at his flat to give hime lunch when he got home and that a family friend always did his shopping so he was well looked after. He had no recollection of these facts at all.
We had two elderly couples who were regular customers. Really lovely. One couple was quite frail and I always took their shopping to their kitchen because the bags were so heavy. I always enjoyed taking them to their regular places; doctor, dentist, supermarket, hospital, hairdresser. One of the gentlemen gave me a kiss on the cheek when I took them for the last time before I left.
There was a young lady who was mentally ill who wanted a female driver so, as I was the only one on the day shift, I was assigned to her jobs. The thing about Kate was she was never happy with the care she was being given. Her care plan was always wrong and no-one was available to speak to her when she called and they never called her back. She considered that the world’s job was to care for her.
One memorable late afternoon I ferried her and she told me that she was going to London to speak to the head of the NHS to complain about the service she was being given. The economic cuts meant that her care time had been cut and she wasn’t happy. I ascertained that she had a plan to travel to London by train that evening, stay near the office and see him next day. I didn’t think this was a good idea because her plan had so many holes. First she did not have an appointment to see him, second, she always complained about the taxi fare and I wondered if she had the money for the train and the hotel. Third I felt that being in London would be too overwhelming for her, fourth, fifth, with etc.
I persuaded her that she needed to go home and at least pack a bag. She did and booked another taxi to take her to the station. I managed to dissuade her from going to London after quite a lengthy discussion. I took her to her grandmas house. She wasn’t there because she was ill and being looked after by Kate’s mother. She phoned her mother, who would not answer her phone. She phoned her step father who answered. I spoke to her mother who told me that she was mentally ill (as if I didn’t know) and that she could do nothing for her. I got the picture of a woman who just could not cope with her daughter any more, especially as her own mother was close to death. She lived miles away in another town and Kate told me that she would be turned away if she turned up on their doorstep.
Here was a young woman who was crying out for love and attention. I did not want to take her to the station or take her home because of the state she was in. We talked for quite a while and she eventually said she may as well kill herself. I was waiting for her to say that so I could take her to the hospital. So off we went to the Accident and Emergency. She wanted me to go in and speak for her because she didn’t feel she could. The receptionist recognised her as someone who had presented herself to be assessed for admission several times. It was deemed unnecessary before and again this time (so I found out next day). I left her at the hospital after being with her for two hours and being paid for two short journeys.
She thanked me next day and gave me a hug but I, like everyone else it seemed, did not feel it was the right thing for me to do to get sucked into her world. So sad.
Making a Difference
I became a taxi driver with the mission to have each customer feel better when they completed their journey. I did not make it with everyone but I did make an impression on some. I taught several people EFT (emotional Freedom Techniques) or Tapping as it is often called on their short journey home to relieve some problem or other. A girl was going to take an exam and was late and was so nervous and she told me moths later when I saw her again that the tapping worked and that she had used it on other things. Another girl told me that it had helped her knee when I saw her again. Several other young mothers said that they were glad to get ideas from my daughters site Clever-Toddlers.com.
I had this picture on my dashboard. It is my favourite picture. It is so uplifting. You can learn about it here. Several of my customers have exclaimed about it and so I gave them a copy.
I realise I could write and write about the customers I have ferried and maybe I will some day but for now I will close.
I left taxi driving because my year’s license came to an end and it was the end of that cycle of my life. Time to move onto other things.