First, a disclaimer: I know that not all Dublin taxi drivers have over-bitten, vinegar-soaked fingernails, nor do they all wear chafing hessian underpants – in other words, they’re not universally irritable, intolerant, impatient, racist, shoulder-chipped prole chauffeurs. I also understand that, as self-employed people, time generally equals money in their line of business. And I have had more than my fair share of thoroughly pleasant, courteous, considerate cabbies in my time too.
However, a little good will goes a long way and it’s distinctly lacking in some quarters. Three times recently I’ve got into a pre-booked taxi to find the meter already running.
In all fairness, as soon as I expressed my incredulity to the drivers concerned, they backed down and reset their meters, and with at least a mumbled apology.
In the first instance, the driver admitted he’d got the pick-up time wrong, but until I actually mentioned his error he was in an almighty grump with me without expressing his reason; in the second, the driver had started the meter while waiting for me to emerge from entirely the wrong address, but kept his meter running even when he came to the right one; and in the third case, the driver claimed I was a minute late. One minute. I wasn’t, it was his clock which was incorrect, and when I challenged him on this issue, he hastily restarted his meter. Still – we’re talking one minute.
The point is this – taxi drivers are too damned quick to make you pay for keeping them. At least as many times as I’ve been supposedly ‘late’ getting into a waiting cab, I have been left waiting for taxis themselves to turn up, sometimes for a ridiculous amount of time – not once have I been offered compensation for the time I spent waiting on them, ending up late at my destination in the process.
As I said to one of the drivers, it should cut both ways and if not, it’s a diabolical way to treat customers. No matter who they are, a customer is a customer and right now taxi drivers need all the friends and custom they can get.