The larger than life characters came and went over the course of the year I drove the father in laws taxi. Recollecting one customer on new year’s eve makes me shiver a little. It was a man of about 30 years of age, well dressed, nice personality with an accent straight out of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. He came strolling alongside my taxi, bent down so I could see his very pleasant face and asked almost apologetically if I was booked. I explained I was a black and white so didn’t need booking. He quickly slid into the taxi (It was about 10.30pm) and mentioned before he told me where he wanted to go, that he had asked several taxi drivers to take him home and they’d refused. I said “Go on then, where are you going, Russia”? He smiled and said “Close, I’m going to Harthill, near Rotherham, if that’s ok please “? I confirmed I would take him (It was about a 35 mile round trip) but made sure he had the money to pay before I set off. He opened his wallet up to reveal a thick wad of notes. On the way, he was very chatty and wouldn’t stop talking, but I was mentally shattered after a long, long day. He revealed he was a bookmaker, and told me about the biggest payouts he had given. I found it fascinating as he told me about all the money he had passed through his hands and the money he had made whilst doing his job. It was true I was fascinated but my eyes were fighting to stay open. However, they well and truly opened as I approached a roundabout at a speed approaching warp factor one. I really was unaware of how fast I was going until I suddenly came upon a roundabout at the same time as he stiffened his body and exclaimed “Fuckkkkkkk”!! It was far too late for me to stop at the junction, and a car had just come into view on the roundabout. So I did what any self respecting Michael Schumacher wannabe would do, I accelerated to get in front of the car that was actually on the roundabout rather than the alternative, which would have been to smash into his passenger door. The other car had already slammed it’s brakes on as I zoomed in front of him on virtually 2 wheels. I don’t know how I got away with it but I managed to keep the car on the road and escaped off the roundabout without a scratch.
I glanced at my customer who was wide eyed, clutching the sides of his seat, mumbling “Fuck fuck fuck”. Of course I apologised but couldn’t help but laugh a nervous laugh as I half watched his (I’ve just shit my pants) expression. I tried to sooth the obvious tension that oozed out of him by attempting a joke, saying “Don’t worry, it happens all the time”. I think he attempted a smile but his face was frozen with fear. I think it’s fair to say that I could sense he wanted to get out of the taxi. He asked me to stop, saying he wanted to walk the rest of the way through the village. I stopped the car and he actually paid me! I refused the tip he offered and apologised again before he got out and walked away.
The drive back to town was endured with all windows down to try and wake myself up with the aid of a cold, inrushing wind.
Thankfully, that was the closest I ever came to an accident whilst I drove the taxi.