Taxi Tales. which I co-wrote with Philip Parry is about real life events that have happened in either mine or Phil s taxi over the last twenty five years, is due to be released on paperback this month, we are currently working on book two which we hope to have published early next year. The tale below is a preview from book two about my first job, hope you enjoy it.
My First Job
Friday 28th October 1988, that was the day I became a taxi driver, not the greatest career move, but I was lucky to have a job. At 7pm I left my house, with the tools of my trade in my arms. A float to give change out, borrowed off my mother and my A to Z of the local areas. I also had a pen and a pad and that’s all I needed. I was raring to go, but still I had the little butterflies in my stomach which everyone has on their first day.
I walked up to my car, a battered old Ford Sierra, hired from the taxi company which I now 'work' for and trust me, this car had seen better days, but as the 'new driver' this is what you get.... the 'shed' to see what kind of driver you are! If I didn’t manage to smash it up in the first few months they 'promised' they would give me a better car. Fred Flintstones car would have been better than this car. I’d spent all day cleaning it, inside and out and it still looked a mess. The seats had stains on them, don’t like to think what had caused them, the carpet or what was left of it smelt and the driver’s seat was more like a rocking chair. But still this car was going to make me money, or at least I hoped so.
I go into the car and fired it up. About three warning lights came on, but I was told not to worry about them by the taxi companies mechanic, (yer right), he wasn’t the one who was going to break down in the middle of nowhere. I turned on the taxi radio and a voiced boomed out, “Birchgreen, Tanhouse, Digmoor, need cars, anyone going?” The operator was sounding desperate, I was waiting for a pause in his endless rambling so I could start work. I listened for a couple of minutes before I plucked up the courage, picked my microphone up and blew in my call sign “ Town 12." Nothing apart from, “Birchgreen, Tanhouse, Digmoor,” came out of my set. I tried again, “Town 12," by the fourth attempt I was starting to think there was something wrong with my set. Then finally the operator answered me “Town 12," he barked.
It was at this point I lost the ability of speech, the cockiness of a twenty two year old deserted me and my mind went blank. I had the microphone in my hand but didn’t say a word. “TOWN TWELVE!” the operator shouted. it seemed I was pissing this guy off before id even started, finally I uttered the words, “Good evening," to him in a voice that resembled a twelve year old girl. “Were are you?” he asked, well demanded! (so much for pleasantries).
“Cornbrook,” I replied, still in my best twelve year old girs voice.
“You want 95 Castlehey," he told me, or should I say shouted at me.
“Roger,” I squeaked, but I breathed a sigh of relief, because I knew were Castlehey was, it was about a minutes drive from where I was. So off I set to pick up my first fare. I was told by friends of mine who were also taxi drivers that the odd numbers are always on your left and evens on your right, so as I pulled into Castlehey, I went about half way down the road and started to look for numbers, well that seemed like a good plan but it wasn’t quite that easy. These estates only have the end houses on the road, and for some unknown reason the people who live in these end houses don’t like putting numbers on their doors. Added to that, all the signs that were put up by the local authority to tell which numbers were on that particular block have long since gone no doubt due to the extreme intellect of the house dwellers offspring!!!! But I slowly drove down looking for one number so I could get my bearings, but it was dark and time was starting to tick by. I went up and down the estate three times. I decided to get out of my car and walk down one of the rows of houses, just to see if anyone was considerate enough to put a house number on their door. I eventually found a house with a number on it, number 79, 'great' I thought, 'it must be the next row down.' Wrong! After walking down that row that was in its low hundreds, I got back into my car and heard the words, “Town Twelve, Town Twelve!” I was not getting on this guys Christmas list, “Town Twelve,” I replied, in that twelve year old girls voiceagain. “How long for 95 Castlehey?” he shouted.
“Just looking for the number,” I squeaked.
“Well hurry up!” Before I got a chance to ask him if he knew where it was, he started to shout out the areas he had work in, and there was no way I was going to interrupt him. Fifteen minutes I’d been looking for this number, at this point all I wanted to do was turn the taxi radio off, drive to the office and pass them the keys to the car back. I could feel the sweat running down my back. Then I noticed a bloke standing at the top of the road. 'Great,' I thought... 'I’ll see if he knows were 95 is.' So I drove back towards the entrance of the estate and pulled alongside the bloke who promptly got into my car. I was just about to say something to him when he said, “Alright Glenn,” it took several seconds before it registered in my mind who it was. The bloke turned out to be an old friend of mine who lived on this estate, ”Alight Lee, do you know where number 95 is, I’ve been looking for it for ages?” it still didn’t dawned on me why he got into my car, he didn’t know this was my car I only picked it up that day. But he just burst out laughing. “It’s me you dickhead, I live at 95.”
I looked at him then his house, “But how is your house 95 it’s the first house you come to when you drive in?” I asked in disbelief.
“The numbers go around in a circle, but the hundreds start down near the bottom,” he said.
“Who the fuck designed this?” I asked.
He just laughed, and he had good reason to laugh, we’d known each other for years, we hung around with the same group of lads, I’d knocked at his door hundreds of times for him to come out, been in his house, but never took any notice of the number he lived in.
“Right then Lee where you off to?” I asked.
“The Toby,” he replied.
Now, I’ve been to The Toby pub a few times myself but, never drove there. “What’s the best way Lee?” I asked.
He laughed again and directed me. On the way over we were chatting away about old times when I heard those dreaded words again “TOWN TWELVE, TOWN TWELVE!” so I picked up my microphone and answered him. “WHERE ARE YOU MOBLIE?” he shouted.
“The Toby,” I replied in as manly a voice i could muster.
“WELL I’M CALLING BIRCHGREEN, YOU WANT THE SILVER BIRCH FOR SMITH!!”
I can officially say I’m off the Christmas card list now.
“Right Lee how do you get to the Silver Birch from The Toby?”
“I don’t know you’re the fucking taxi driver not me," he laughed.
“You’d think!” I replied.
I dropped Lee off, and as I sat there trying to figure out where the Silver Birch was a taxi pulled alongside me.
'Great," I thought, 'I’ll ask him.'
“Alright mate, where's the Silver Birch?”
“New at this are you? It’s in Flordon lad."
“Yer started tonight, thanks mate.” I replied and with that drove off not knowing where Flordon was, but my A to Z did. Ten minutes later I was sat outside the Silver Birch. The rest of the night went pretty much the same. I should have done what I was thinking in Castlehey and turned the taxi radio off, drove to the office and handed them the car back, because twenty five years I’m still here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Genn Pye 2013: