29 November 2010


What special qualities does one need to be a taxi driver? I imagine that if a Sheffield taxi firm had to draw up a list of commandments for new drivers, it would read something like this...

1. In residential streets when picking up fares or dropping off, make sure you block the centre of the road to inconvenience other drivers as much as possible. It is especially important to ignore any available parking spaces as using them would allow free flow of traffic.
2. If you need to turn around, always do a U-turn in the middle of the street. If other drivers honk you or screech their brakes, simply ignore such petulant reactions. Never do what non-taxi drivers do - find a quiet street and back into a driveway to turn around causing as little inconvenience to other road users as possible. That would make you a laughing stock at the taxi rank.
3. If at a side junction and you need to turn into the main street, just do it. No need to look. If by chance another car smashes into you then it would clearly be the other driver's fault.
4. When someone orders a taxi, make sure you arrive at least ten minutes after the appointed time. Try a range of excuses including "The traffic was busy", "This street isn't on my satnav" and "Control said twenty five to, not half past".
5. Practise suitable facial expressions when your customer is asked to pay the fare. Whatever sum of money is placed in your palm, look at it as if inspecting rodent poo and pause with an expression that says: "Well where's the god-dam tip you freaking miser!"
6. When queuing at Sheffield railway station for fares, ensure that you make every effort to prevent private cars from entering the station drop-off and pick-up zone. For example, pull up next to a friend's cab for a chat about racing pigeons or the political situation in Korea. If the hindered driver blows his horn or politely asks you to clear the road, simply take out a copy of "The Guardian" and begin the cryptic crossword.
7. When transporting a stranger to the city to their desired location, do not forget the importance of taking a circuitous detour which will allow the visitor to see some of the least visited parts of the city such as The Manor and Fox Hill Estates.
8. If you feel like conversing with a passenger sitting in the back, make sure you have pre-prepared a range of banal comments and questions which should be directed to the cab's front windscreen in order to muffle audibility in the rear. If the passenger says "Pardon?" or "Excuse me?" you should repeat your remark with an even greater degree of mumbling.
9. When driving your taxi around town, feel free to use your mobile phone both for making and receiving calls in transit. As a taxi driver you are a professional driver and therefore normal rules of the road do not apply to you. At traffic lights it is good to text any unnecessary messages and then proceed just before the light changes back to red, leaving non-taxi drivers fuming behind you.
10. Make as much money as you can and when banknotes are handed to you, never offer change immediately. Wait until the passenger demands change and part with it slowly and with great reluctance spluttering, "I've got a wife and four kids to support."


  1. I don't think I've ever run across a cabbie in the U.S. who actually speaks English, so it wouldn't matter if he mumbled or attempted to converse, it's all Greek to me. And they always seem like very recent immigrants, so you have no confidence they actually know where they're going.

    Anyway, we don't have cabs in Sloughhouse. You'd have to stick your thumb out and hope someone on a tractor might pick you up.

  2. Had a bad experience with a cab recently, have we?

  3. JAN If I stuck my thumb out in Sloughhouse some guy like Ted Bundy would probably pick me up.

    RHYMES WITH RHYTHM Even the bestselling author of "The Bible" wrote
    "Is it right for us to make payment of taxis?" Luke 20:22

  4. I love it! Mind you, I think a lot of that would apply to a fair number of private drivers around here, in addition to driving towards me on the wrong side of the road and turning right on a roundabout rather than bothering to go round it. (Both happened to me last week).
    One thing I really can't believe though - taxi drivers doing cryptic crossword in the Guardian? Come on!

  5. In a rural area the local convicts don't bother the other natives, they go into the cities to rape and pillage. For one thing, they know none of us has anything worth taking. For another, our families have known each other for generations. So, while I would be quite safe thumbing down a tractor, YOU might be at risk.

    Most of our lowlife inhabitants, however, are the ones who moved here recently to avoid their parole officer, not knowing that Rancho Murieta just up the road is a haven for policemen and their families. They also don't realize that no one who moves into an established community like ours is EVER assimilated in one generation. We are very guilty of looking down our stubby little Polish-peasant noses at newcomers. (Even our seasonal Mexican workers have been here for a couple of generations and are part of our family.)

  6. I just read that Sikh cab drivers in West Sacramento have been attacked because they wear turbans and people think they're Muslims. Sigh. That wouldn't happen in Sloughhouse, we only attack marauding raccoons and people who try to break into our homes. We hardly ever have break-ins because potential robbers know that farmers aren't weenies and they could get hurt.

  7. You missed out "Push like mad for a description of what work your passenger has been doing today, and then when you finally, and reluctantly, are given it, dismiss it." As in today's "You teach doctors how to talk to patients? Isn't that just common sense?" I thought of replying "Finding your way round Huddersfield? Isn't that just common sense?" but I chose to remain alive instead, so I didn't.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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