Last Thursday, I enjoyed an superbly entertaining taxi ride back from LHR. Unusually, the taxi driver wasn’t waiting for me at the meeting point. I called the taxi company and was told he was ‘3 minutes away’. He was actually 10 minutes away but, to be fair, he was extremely apologetic when he arrived.
The driver was a rather tall, imposing, Indian gentleman. Once in the car, he immediately got into a protracted and increasingly heated argument with the dispatcher about the address for his next drop-off. The dispatcher insisted the location was ‘Surbiton’ with no address. Not unreasonably, the driver argued that he needed an exact address.
Finally, he turned to me and asked ‘Sir. May I ask you for your address ?’ so I obliged. He then exploded at the dispatcher who eventually conceded that my address was indeed correct, wasn’t actually ‘Surbiton’ and did include a road and house number.
Puzzled, I asked the driver why he simply didn’t ask him where I lived when I got into the car. ‘Because you, Sir, are the customer and I shouldn’t have to pester you just because I work with complete idiots.’
He then informed me that ‘while he wasn’t a racialist (sic), British people were all incredibly stupid’ and proceeded to expand this sweeping generalisation with the startling fact that ’last years Mensa study reported that 68% of the world’s population was below average intelligence.’
He then proceeded to regale me with a variety of hilarious anecdotes from just two years in the minicab business.
One lady asked ‘Are you a cab ?’ to which he replied ‘No, madam. I am not a cab. I am a taxi driver so please do not leap onto my shoulders.’
Another teenager asked if she could smoke in the car. He politely pointed to the ‘No Smoking’ signs clearly displayed and said ‘No. I’m sorry madam. That won’t be possible.’ Undeterred, she then asked ‘How much extra would it cost to smoke ?’. ‘Well, madam, if you pay me the current market value of this car, I will get the bus home, you can drive this car to your garage and you can smoke there all night long.’
On another balmy summer evening, a rich lady from Mayfair didn’t answer the door or phone for 15 minutes. When she eventually deigned to open the front door and announced ‘she had been sitting out in the back garden with a glass of wine because it was sunny’, he replied ‘You’re right. It is a lovely evening so I am ending my shift right now and going to sit in my garden with a glass of wine’. He promptly left her standing, speechless, on the doorstep.
Another customer threatened to call the office because the driver was slightly late and he had a flight to catch. He said ‘Well it’s not my fault that I’m late. Blame the idiots working at this company.’ When the customer said ‘That is outrageous. I am going to call your manager’, he replied ‘Sir, you can call New Scotland Yard for all I care.’
But my favourite story involved another rich lady. It was late on Saturday night, the roads were busy and the driver wasn’t familiar with the area so he started to enter the destination address into the SatNav system.
The well spoken lady said ‘Oh don’t bother with that. Just follow that blue Mercedes’. My friend said ‘Certainly madam but I really would like to key in the address as well if you don’t mind.’ The lady said ‘Look. I’ve already told you once. Just do what you’re told and follow the blue Mercedes.’
The driver complied. 25 minutes later, the blue Mercedes pulled into a driveway. The taxi driver pulled up at the kerb and stopped. He looked into the back seat. His well dressed female passenger was asleep and suddenly awoke. ‘Are we there ye - What are we doing here ? Where the hell are we ?’.
The driver gestured to the car in the darkened driveway: ‘Madam, you told me to follow the blue Mercedes.’