An Open Letter To Prospective Minicab DriversGary Gale
Since I started my new job, Terminal 5 at Heathrow has become close to a second home. This means I've been taking a lot of local minicabs to the airport early in the morning. The experience of frequent use of minicab services has been interesting, to say the least. With this in mind, I offer this up as a list of do's and don'ts for anyone considering plying a trade behind the wheel of a 5 year old Toyota Avensis.
Turn up on time; if I order a cab at 7.00 AM I expect it to arrive at 7.00 AM, not at 7.15 AM with a cheery "don't worry, the roads are usually clear at this time of day". They're usually not.
Either knock gently on my front door to avoid waking the rest of the household or call me on my mobile when you're outside; the controller took my mobile number for a reason when I made the booking.
Give me a receipt if I ask for one; lots of people travel to the airport on business and asking for a receipt shouldn't be a foreign concept. Having a pen to write out the receipt is also helpful.
Take the fastest and more direct route to the passenger's destination. Driving a route which describes 11 of the sides of a dodecahedron because "it's a short cut" or because "my satnav told me so" isn't going to be met with any other tip than "learn the Highway Code and your local area, in that order".
Ask for help in programming your satnav en route to get you to Heathrow. It's one of the most popular destinations around this area. It's a big airport with 5 terminals and lots of planes. If you memorise the route to just one of the local destinations, this should be the one.
Drive the wrong way down a one way street, attempt to do a 37 point turn in the middle of the street with an increasingly enraged queue of cars behind you and then attempt to blame it on the local council because you didn't notice the two, very large, No Entry signs at the end of the street. The fact that all the cars on the road are parked in the opposite direction to your direction of travel should be considered a significant hint.
Run the meter in the vain attempt to charge me more than the fixed price quote that I've already obtained from your controller the night before. Heathrow Terminal 5 is £20.00 from my house; attempts to charge me £35.00 from the meter will be met with a £20.00 note and utter derision on my part.
Don't attempt to argue with me that my house isn't in the neighbourhood I mentioned when I made the booking; I've been living here 10 years and all of my neighbours plus the Royal Mail are in agreement as to which neighbourhood we're in. The fact that it's also written in large red letters on the street name signs is also a clue. Having said that, if you miss the large red No Entry signs at the end of the road, you'll probably miss the large red letters on the street name signs.
Jump red traffic lights on the way to the airport. Even more so, don't jump red traffic lights and when I point out that you've jumped a red traffic light, stop the cab in the middle of the road, reverse into the oncoming traffic and try to argue that the light really wasn't red when you jumped it. The presence of other driver gesticulating violently through their rolled down windows with the elbows jammed onto the car horn might also be considered a contextual clue.
Turn right on a no right turn junction because "you know a short cut". Even more so, don't turn right on a no right turn junction, jumping a red traffic light into the bargain and in doing so cut across the path of three lanes of fast moving traffic which misses colliding with the passenger side of the car by a fraction of a millimeter. I'm liable to get irate under these circumstances. Photo Credits: pixelthing on Flickr.