Today I would like to quickly talk to you all about Taxis.
Taxis or cabs or minicabs or Hackney Carriages have been in operation in Europe since the early 1600’s, ferrying people from one place to another for a small charge.
In the near 500 years since The Hackney Carriage Act in 1635, the industry has boomed. In 2013 licensed private hire vehicles are a billion pound, global enterprise that employs millions of individuals across the planet.
For example, in my home town alone there are over 2500 licensed taxi drivers. Larger cities such as New York are home to over 13000 yellow cabs. They are so engrained into public life now that some, such as Black Taxis in London and Yellow Cabs in New York, are now held in the same regard as famous landmarks as symbols for their cities.
On top of all this, taxis are also seemingly a great place for awkward moments to take place.
I doubt you will be surprised to learn that I have had a few bad experiences with private hire vehicles over the years.
Whether it be drunkenly vomiting in a taxi (and having to pay a £50 fine), or being asked by a cab driver “how my GSCE’s are going?” (GSCE’s are the exams you take in England aged 16 when you are about to leave school) despite me being 25 at the time, or once riding my bike straight into a parked taxi and breaking my collar bone, it is safe to say that Taxi’s and I have a turbulent history.
I had another Taxi moment on Saturday night.
We had a party at Project Southsea to celebrate R’s birthday. After which we headed out to a few bars before congregating to a local nightclub.
Somewhere between the bars and the club our group splintered.
I found myself with my mate Liam’s girlfriend, R and his girlfriend whilst walking towards a taxi rank. Liam’s girlfriend was trying to write a text to Liam to tell him to meet us at the club. She was struggling though as she had drank a little too much wine and had not brought her glasses out for the evening.
She borrowed my specs and proceeded to tip tap away whilst walking up towards the taxi rank. As she was texting my phone rang. It was C informing me that he was already at the club and would meet me by the entrance in a short while.
After a brief chat I hung up the call and turned around to realise that I was in the street alone.
R and the girls had drunkenly continued their journey to the taxi queue. Losing me in the process.
Because I am quite blind without my glasses, panic set in for a moment. However through intense squinting I could just about make them out in the distance. They were climbing into a cab and waving me over to join them.
I put my head down and sprinted the 70 odd yards towards them as fast as I could and quickly jumped into the cab.
As the cab pulled away I realised something.
None of the occupants of the taxi were people that I knew!
In this taxi were 4 very confused looking girls. As I know that R is not a girl I was pretty certain that I was in the wrong taxi.
I figured I should try to diffuse the situation as these young women looked a little worried.
“Hi. I am Jay….So…this is not my taxi is it?”
They all stared blankly at me. Maybe they thought I was going to attack them or something.
“I’m not going to attack you or anything so don’t worry”
As soon as those words left my mouth I realised that was probably the worst thing that anyone could say in this situation.
They did not really react though.
Instead they all muttered amongst themselves in a language that I could understand. I think they spoke German.
I jumped out of the taxi (not literally) as soon as it stopped, bowed my head by way of an apology and exited onto the street.
Luckily my friends were following me in the cab behind. They picked me up and off we went to the club.
My friends spent the rest of the evening making jokes about my eyesight.
Later on in the evening I spotted those 4 girls. They were pointing at me and laughing. I waved, they did not wave back. One did the universal gesture for crazy at my expense by rotating her forefinger by her temple. Her mates all laughed.
I think I am going to walk to most places from now on.
And when I do, I will be wearing my glasses all of the time.