I wanted to tell him to get lost, but he was managing it all on his own. He had thick, bottle glasses and an ageing Volkswagen T5 minibus with seat trim weave worn smooth by the backsides of hundreds of punters. This was my latest minicab ride and the T5’s pilot was taking me to the station, or at least that’s what he claimed.
If you drive a minicab, please don’t take offence, but it’s a job that seems to attract some unusual characters. T5 Man expressed his individualistic streak by constantly going the wrong way. “Down there!” I shrieked as we sailed past another junction. One laboured three point turn later, and we were heading the right way, until we weren’t.
Our third wrong slot took us into a cul de sac of new houses designed to look old, but instead appearing to have been made from Lego. I muttered peevishly about missed trains.
“Sorry,” said my chauffeur. “It’s the sat nav.” This was an odd thing to say, because he didn’t have a sat nav.
At least I didn’t worry about this man’s health, and whether his medical state might impact on my wellbeing, unlike the bloke who took my wife and I back from the station after a late-night trip into London.
He drove a careworn Mondeo diesel in a sloth-like manner. As the meter ticked upward and the speedometer flickered at the 28mph mark, we trickled down country lanes. We were initially irritated, then relieved, because he only seemed to notice corners once he was into them, causing him to over-correct and head for the wrong side of the road.
“I shouldn’t be doing this,” he said, more truthfully than he knew, then added. “I’m still getting over the heart attack and the doctor doesn’t want me driving, but I’ve got to earn a living.”
We made sympathetic noises and began to pray as he reeled of a shopping list of ailments that included diabetes and bits of him that were swelling up. We survived, but haven’t seen him since.
Our favourite mini cabber was a gravel-voiced lady who was in the latter stages of gender re-assignment treatment and proud of it. She drove a facelifted Mk1 Ford Mondeo (the one with the ‘Glasgow smile’ front end) and drove it beautifully. She was a biker, which perhaps explains great anticipatory skills and the smooth, mechanically sympathetic way she handled the controls. She dressed like Bet Lynch and liked a chat, which we didn’t mind because she was often wickedly funny.
“My fella’s got a Harley,” she rasped. “He had a monogrammed air intake. The vibration undid the Allen keys and it fell ‘orf. He was almost crying. I laughed so much I almost…” I’ll leave you to finish the sentence.
We were rather touched when she told us about her daughter’s wedding, which featured a biker guard of honour. Both the bride’s parents wore their best dresses and danced together. I bet you don’t get stories like that with Uber.