Tales and Tips from a Lady Taxi Driver
Other people’s views of a lady taxi driver
I got so fed up with the wisecracks from male passengers about how surprised they were to see a woman driving a taxi, and asking if I actually had a licence to drive them.
I found the best response to that was to keep a straight face (very important) and innocently ask if I needed one.
They usually hesitated a bit at that, then asked but with less conviction if I had a driving licence.
To which the best response was ‘no’. Then I had to look a bit worried and ask them if I’m supposed to have one.
If I so much as smiled I gave the game away.
After that, they usually shut up and that was always a good time to remind them to wear the provided seatbelts.
They usually did put them on at that point!
I never did find out if any of them actually went to the Council and checked if I was qualified to drive a taxi.
I’m assuming they didn’t, but if they did my papers were all in order and this would have been pointed out to them.
Lady Drivers for Lady Passengers?
On an issue of personal safety I never did take private bookings from customers if they were male and unaccompanied by a woman.
Many times when I was on the radio system I got sent to pick up such people, but they had no way of knowing beforehand that they were getting a lady driver.
Most folk don’t suddenly think up a plan to attack, rob or rape a lady taxi driver, but taking bookings is a sure fire way to give them time to think up something if they are that way inclined.
I don’t understand all these new companies that are springing up, offering lady drivers for lady passengers.
There are absolutely nothing to stop a woman phoning for one of their taxis, and her having a gang of men with her when she gets in the taxi.
More and more in the news we are reading about women predators. They have been about forever.
Just look at Myra Hindley.
I only ever drove the Hackney Cabs, the London style taxi that should be compulsory everywhere in terms of driver safety.
I was in a completely separate compartment from my passengers in the back, with a glass or laterally plastic screen separating us, and a high metal barrier below the glass/plastic partition to around the height of the top of the driver’s seat.
There was always a sliding panel to allow me to communicate with the passenger, and to allow him to pay at the end of the journey.
Glasgow passengers paid before they disembarked, unlike in London where, as you always see in the movies, the passenger jumps out and pays at the driver’s window.
In Glasgow when the passenger gets out, he might refuse to pay and there’s damn all you can do about it, unless you want to go chasing after him.
In later years this sliding panel changed to a small opening for the exchange of money/receipts, with an intercom link between the driver and those behind him.
Carrying Noxious Substances in taxis
We don’t have to carry them.
We can refuse to pick up the guy who has just walked 2 miles to the nearest petrol station on his return journey with a can of petrol, because of the explosion risk.
I’m not saying we would refuse, because Glasgow people are among the friendliest and most helpful people you will find on this planet, only that we legally can refuse.
In fact if I remember the fine print correctly, I think we are supposed to NOT carry these substances, but we did, on occasion.
However, I’m not sure where you would place a can of paint – GLOSS, not emulsion.
One late frosty night I picked this family up and they were carrying a huge pot of paint.
It didn’t occur to me to tell them they couldn’t bring it, I only asked that they held it carefully and made sure the lid was secure.
However, disaster happened on the journey and the paint pot fell over and spilled all over the plastic matting on the floor, and up the doors and upholstery. What a mess!
I was young and new in the taxi trade at the time, and didn’t know what to do, so I radioed base and asked their advice.
They suggested that I ask my passengers to buy a new mat, the price of which I didn’t know but they assured me was in the region of 2 weeks average wage.
This family lived on a council housing estate. There was no way they could pay that.
So I put it to them. Either they paid for the damage, or they cleaned the cab up and paid me for the waiting time.
I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t afford the new mat.
It wasn’t my fault they had damaged the taxi, which if they didn’t pay for I’d have to. That taxi was my livelihood.
Well, you know they spent two hours cleaning and scrubbing that taxi with turpentine they brought out from their house.
They made me tea to keep me warm while they scrubbed away.
I even helped them myself at times when my fingers felt they might drop off with cold, and in the end the taxi was ‘almost’ normal.
What nice people! And what a rotten end to for a night out for them.
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