There are many benefits to booking a private taxi – being able to get crazy drunk at your destination chief among them – but for me another pleasurable advantage is the lack of anxiety involved in planning a route and finding my way from point A to point B. That’s what a decent taxi service provides: the ability to sit in the back unburdened by the necessity to navigate.
But you hardly ever get that, of course. What you usually get is a bewildered man of indeterminate origin who is very keen on canvassing your thoughts regarding the best way to get to where you want to go. Where is it, exactly? Do I want to go via the motorway or the B-road? Through the centre or the backstreets? Do I know what the traffic is like this time of day? The answer to all these questions is “I don’t know, isn’t that your fucking job?”
Sometimes it’s a blessed miracle that the taxi driver finds me at all! Despite having my exact address, complete with postcode, a driver once phoned me 15 minutes after he was due to pick me up explaining he was in the area but unable to locate my exact position, and asked if my house was on the north or south end of the road. I DON’T KNOW; I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING COMPASS!!
Your job, Mr Driver, requires you to be able to drive a vehicle and to know your way around the local area. You can barely do the first, and even with the assistance of SatNav, which as far as I’m concerned is the taxi-driver equivalent of bringing a calculator into a maths test, you STILL want to garner my opinion with regard to the specific route we take!
I tell you what, next time I book you I’ll come fully prepped with a dossier containing analyses of traffic patterns at different times of the day, every conceivable route complete with maps and traffic hotspots, and advanced satellite topography detailing potential drop-off points. I’ll also sit next to you in the passenger seat and bark out instructions like a demented rally car co-pilot, and wipe the sweat from your brow when you reach a particularly challenging intersection. Hell, I’ll even drive for you if you like – it’ll certainly reduce the chances of a head-on collision!
That I’m expected to contribute in such a significant way to the successful completion of your job AND then tip you for the service beggars belief.
I don’t want an electrician asking me which wire I think he should replace. I don’t want the surgeon asking me before I drift into unconsciousness where I think she should start cutting first. And I certainly don’t want to brainstorm potential routes with a taxi driver. That’s what I’m paying YOU for, you cretin!
And no, the free bottle of mineral water in the back of your hybrid car doesn’t make up for the fact that your ‘service’ is seven shades of shit. For all the incessant chatter you have to put up with, at least London cabbies know where the fuck they’re going…