Tuesday, January 28

Dung Beetle

A nice easy job picking up from the local hospital and ten miles up the road to Ulverston, or so I thought!
My fare was waiting in the foyer shoehorned into what must have been a specially strengthened jumbo size wheeled chair. I would guess that she would have been maybe between 28st (390lb) and 30st (402lbs) and had her right arm in plaster and stuck out at an extreme right angle.
She was with her mother who at maybe 4ft 10in and 6st (84lbs) was the complete opposite to her in every way.
I can’t wheel her declared the mother and looked at me expectantly, so I took a deep breath and started to shove as hard as I could on the back of the wheeled chair. At first, it would not budge and so I closed my eyes and gave it all I had and was rewarded with some movement. I opened my eyes when the victim began shouting at me and found that all I had managed to achieve was turning her on the spot three times. Mother pointed out that one of the wheels still had its brake on so I released that and prepared to set off again.
By this time, the ladies of the WRVS had evacuated the rest of the patients from the foyer and were comforting them with tea and biscuits.
 Off I set with the huge load squealing and shouting directions looking like a dung beetle pushing an elephant turd up an anthill.
When I finally reached the taxi with my Convoi Exceptionnel and I was pondering just how I would load her without any mechanical assistance, she popped up out of the chair like a whale breaching the ocean and shrieked “I can walk you know it’s my bloody arm that’s broken”
With that, she climbed into the front seat of the now lopsided groaning taxi.
I set of staggering back with the chair wondering why she waited for me to push her in the chair when she could walk and why I was daft enough to do it!  
Mother was sat very quiet in the back and daughter sat waiting to be belted up. This was never going to happen even if I could reach round her the belt would never have stretched the vast distance.
Next was the problem of releasing the handbrake which was hidden beneath some unknown part of the daughter’s anatomy, this was achieved with much embarrassed and apologetic fumbling and straining.
“I was ran over by a truck,” the daughter announced when we had set off, now being a sensitive sort of guy I didn’t follow my first instinct and ask her if the truck driver survived, but I couldn’t help but wonder.
Daughter had a loud shrill sort of voice that just didn’t seem to want to stop talking at me. After a mile or two mother quietly tried to interrupt her to tell me directions to the place they were going. This seemed to be a big mistake as daughter shrieked “can’t I bloody talk now you old cow” and this started a full scale argument between them for the next nine miles of pure hell.
Every time daughter shouted at mother, she turned round to face her in the back and in doing so punched me with the heavily plastered arm.
I was mentally exhausted and black and blue by I finally gratefully dropped them both off.

Some days I would rather be a dung beetle!      

Thursday, January 23

Mobile Bad Manners

When someone talks to me from the seat directly behind me nowadays, I have learnt not to answer straight away. This is after a couple of embarrassing incidents when I have answered them only to realise that they were actually talking to someone on there mobile phones and not to me. This mainly happens when they have the phone set to silent mode and they get a call or they suddenly decide they need to call someone and it cant wait a few minutes till I drop them off. 
Mobile phones to me can be very anti-social things many times I have had three or four passengers in the car and instead of talking to each other they are all talking and texting to other people on their mobiles. The other anti-social thing is when passengers  get in and turn there MP3 players down to tell you where they are going and then turn it right back up again for the rest of the journey.
 Some have it that loud that that I can hear their music louder than the radio, that has got to be be damaging to peoples hearing.

Monday, January 20

Methadone Mad

I had picked an ould lass up from a local doctors surgery and she wanted to first go to the chemist (pharmacy) and collect the medication that the doctor had prescribed for her and then to be taken home.
Now it was late in the day, the woman had really struggled to get into the taxi, and so I offered to go into the chemist and collect her medication for her whilst she waited in the taxi. She was more than happy with this idea and so off I went into the busy chemist shop, only to be confronted by a crowd of people all waiting for prescriptions to be filled.
After a few minutes, I got to the counter and handed the prescription over only to be told that they were very busy and it could take up to half an hour before it was ready. Well the customer was paying for the cab so I went out and checked with her and she was okay with that since she would be sitting all nice and warm in the taxi.
I have not had a lot of experience of the etiquette of a busy pharmacy so I just followed the lead of what everyone else seemed to do. Well that sure opened my eyes to some strange human psychology and behaviour.
The idea seems to be that you hand your prescription in over the counter, then withdraw, and pretend to be looking at the display shelves whilst all standing in a sort of semicircle with all eyes looking towards the dispensing counter. When anyone fresh entered with a prescription, all ears and eyes gave them full scrutiny, with one young woman I noticed tearing her attention away from the male incontinence products she was browsing and stretching to tiptoes to see over the display. Folk seemed to be fascinated by it all and were magnetically drawn towards the counter whenever a conversation was taking place there.
The idea seemed to be that when your prescription was ready they called your name and you went to the counter and confirmed your address and then sometimes the pharmacist had a word about the medication which really seemed to fascinate folk no end. I could see the rapt concentration on the faces as they strained to hear every fascinating word.
Then I saw the look of absolute injury and outrage on all the faces when two people who had only just handed over their prescriptions were called forward within minutes. The agitation spread round the shop like a rampant noro-virus and mutterings were heard all the way from the cold creams to the condoms.  When the two had departed one woman who had more than a passing resemblance to Herman Goering dared to ask the staff why these two interlopers had been served before her.
Everybody took another step towards the counter and listened intently as it was explained that the shady pair had been in for a daily dose of methadone which is a heroin substitute used by addicts. Herman was still outraged and said that that was no excuse especially with “bloody junkies getting priority over us decent folk”.  The pharmacist came out and explained that if they don’t sort the people on methadone out quickly they tend to get very agitated and have been known to kick off and assault staff and cause major damage.  All fascinating stuff to me, then the entertainment continued with a rather seedy looking guy asking at the counter for a prescription to collect. The chemist brought the medication out and the now sweating chap reached for it eagerly, but it was held just out of his reach whilst he was asked for his address. We watched and listened open mouthed as he reeled off at least fifteen different addresses none of which were the right one. The meds were taken out of his reach and he shuffled out of the shop mumbling and swearing.
After what seemed like a lifetime, most of the crowd had been dispensed with and a handful and myself remained looking at the ear wax removal products. The chemist kept shouting out a name but everyone looked at each other and shook their heads denying that it was them. Finally, the thought entered my thick head that I didn’t know the name on the prescription that I was waiting for. So I checked with my fare and yep it was hers, when I went back in to collect it every eye looked at me suspiciously.

 Address please said the chemist you could have heard a pin drop during the embarrassed silence whilst I tried to unsuccessfully recall the customers address. Dohhh!!           

Thursday, January 9

Our Molly An Update

The piece on Molly below was posted way back in Oct 2005.
Some twelve months later Molly disappeared from sight and I sadly had to assume that she had either died or gone into a care home. Despite asking folk about her I heard nothing about her until today more than eight years later!.
An elderly lady I had picked up happened to know her well and told me that despite being nearly totally blind and deaf Molly still lives independently on her beloved Barrow Island. 
Because of her horrific experience of being in the care system for forty years Molly refuses to contemplate going into a care home.  Even though being totally house bound and dependent  on home carers she is the lady tells me still cheerful soul and is now well into her ninety's. 

                                 OUR MOLLY
This is our Molly,my favorite fare a happy lady who uses our cabs five or six times a day. 

But let’s look behind the smiling eyes, Born Salford in 1920 that makes her 85 Years of age.
 She lost both her parents at a very early age, mother when she was four and then father at six. Taken in by an aunt for a while she started to suffer from epileptic fit’s the aunt told her she was to go into a hospital for a short while, this ended up being for the next FORTY YEARS.
 Why? Because she suffered from epilepsy and back then you would be hidden away in an institute out of sight out of mind. 
Molly struggled when she was released because she had become institutionalized most things we take for granted like paying bills getting insurance, she had never ever done 
At the age of sixty Molly was talked into marriage , she never even knew her husband could neither read or write until he was unable to sign the marriage register on their wedding day . This marriage lasted for nine years and then because of her husbands death and the fact that she was living with his parents she became homeless, but instead of going into care Molly found herself a flat and a community who adopted her and she has lived happily ever since on Barrow Island.

Friday, January 3

Walney Floods 2014

Today must be the very first time that I have had to explain to customers that I couldn't take them where they wanted to go. They wanted to go to the far end of the island of Walney a place called North Scale, I had just come of the island so I knew that this would be impossible until the tide receded to clear the flooded roads.
I explained this to them but they just wouldn't believe that they couldn't get home somehow, they suggested different routes but every option they come up with I knew was flooded.
I explained that they would be okay to get home in half an hour or so but they unbelievably said "forget it we will get the bus" mmm wonder how they got on eh!   

Pictures below show just how bad it was over Walney today. 

Thursday, January 2

New Year New Revenge.

Instead of getting involved in the mayhem of New Years Eve I opted for an early start on New Years Day. This gives good opportunity's for payback for all the Peter Kay taxi driver sketches that groups of giggling drunks always try to recreate in the back of the cab. It really does get a bit boring by the time you get to the hundredth time of "busy tonight mate” and "what time you on till” that Peter Kay has a lot to answer for.
 But the tables are turned early next morning when the fares are a bit worse for wear after a full nights partying. Nothing too harsh you understand, just a bit of gentle mickey taking.
 Such as looking back at the hung-over wreck in the back and saying” we’d better get you back to the crypt before the sun comes up eh!" Or to the fella wearing the brightly coloured frilly shirt, "we'd better get you home before your mother misses her blouse.
 Or the useful advice given to the young lass who looked as if she had been dragged through a hedge backwards “I’d stay away from mirrors for a few days if I was you."
 One confused staggerer who was having trouble remembering where he lived and muttered "over the hill and round the bend" to which I replied "yes I know you are but where do you live,”
 But even I had to refrain from any cruel humour with my first fare of the day. This was from the crowded casualty department of Furness General hospital were he had been all night. It seems that he had a disagreement with a lass who promptly settled the matter by taking her shoe off and embedding the stiletto heel in his head several times, ouch.