Sunday, April 20

Gossip Congregation

Easter Sunday and all the big supermarkets are closed and it was exactly the same ritual performance as last year, it’s what I call the Easter Sunday parade, with hundreds of cars full of desperate retail junkies driving round looking for a supermarket that’s open for business.
They just can’t believe that they dare have the audacity to close their temple of consumerism just when they want to go shopping as they usually do every single Sunday.
 They don’t just look at the car park, see it’s empty and realise the store is closed, and drive away, nope they have to drive right up to the store entrance and stare at the locked doors with wide open mouths.
They actually form an orderly queue to do this and then they all drive off to the next supermarket down the road to repeat the mournful ritual. It seems that they just don’t know what to do with their sad selves without their Sunday shopping fix; wonder what they did before the stores started Sunday trading!
Sunday shopping seems to have replaced church services and even the great British pub liquid lunch to become some people’s sole source of a social life. Whole family's seeking the great nirvana of retail therapy clog the aisles as they engage in epic gossip sessions with others who they only ever see in the hallowed retail cathedrals. Pity the poor layperson who actually just wants to dash in and out and grab a quick bite for lunch. None of the gossip congregation will give an inch to let anyone else past them and will use their empty shopping trolleys as a weapon to stop the philistines from invading the hallowed ground.   

 We taxi drivers could make lots more money if our phone operators just didn't tell customers that the stores were shut. We could then just take them on a nice leisurely trip round all the closed supermarkets and then back home again, but that’s bad public relations so we don’t do that.
It’s still a great pity though eh!

Friday, April 11

Fancy Party

A lot of my fares today were parents with their children going to upmarket birthday parties. Not too long ago birthday parties consisted of a few friends invited for tea which would be sandwiches (cut into triangles with the crusts cut off if you were posh) and maybe jelly and ice cream to follow.
 Now they are picked up by chauffeur driven limousines and whisked to fancy Italian restaurants and then go onto bowling, swimming, laser games and other exciting activities.
 There seems to be a big money in this huge new industry and anyone that can come up with something new and different must be on to a sure fire thing.
 Only thing that makes me think slightly negatively is that a lot of the parents seem to be in competition with each other trying to impress each other rather than the children. For instance, it used to be the custom to take a small present for the child whose birthday it was, but now they expect to be given a present or goody bag in return for actually going to the party.

 The fancier the goody bag then the more popular the kid becomes nearer to the birthday party!  Again, there is fierce competition to outdo the other parents in the race for bigger and better offerings.

Monday, April 7

Lakes Hideaway

I still find it crazy in this area of Furness, the vast differences that occur between  fares and where they go.
One minute you are picking up a local smackrat  from one of the rougher housing estates and taking them somewhere even rougher in search of the next hit.
The next as on Sunday was a United Nations worker on leave from Bangladesh going to his Lakeland hideaway. Just twenty minutes from the urban sprawl of Barrow in Furness and we are in the Lake District national park, all this on our doorstep.
 Take a look at the video of the last bit of the drive into the  remoteness of Oxen Park. 

Wednesday, April 2

Different Folks

It still amazes me even after all these years driving a taxi just how different one fare can be from the next. A day or two back I picked up an Italian doctor up who was over here in the UK working at our local hospital for a while. During the short ten minute journey he was full of conversation on subjects as wide ranging as his home town and other places in Italy to the Barrow area  and the food he enjoyed cooking and his thoughts on the National Health Service.
All in all a great fare and a pleasure to deal with, and he gave a decent tip to!
Next job was a contract fare with a guy going the 80 miles or so up to Carlisle. Now this guy was a totally different kettle of fish, it was like grinding granite getting a single syllable out of him. All the way over the bleak and moody Shap Fell  with my equally bleak and moody passenger staring silently down at the floor.
At the highest remotest part of the grim hills the radio even lost signal and the silence became deafening. So I tried every conversation starter that I could think of, but all to no avail, I might as well have been carrying a parcel  for all  the reaction I got.
Boring boring boring, so on went a CD at high volume and  I tapped the wheel and screeched along with Bob Dylan as the parcel carried on staring silently at the floor for the rest of the ride. When we finally reached the grim north of Cumbria he got out without leaving even a thank you, never mind even a  tiny tip!
 The next day I  picked up a lady  going to her doctor’s surgery this was a trip of about three miles. As soon as she got in the car she started to tell me her complete gynecology history.
 This included her three pregnancies, two miscarriages and details of her various women’s problems.
 Luckily we had reached the surgery by the time she offered to show me her hysterectomy scars and I was able to decline her kind offer.
 It was about 12 am but I decided to skip lunch that day.