I'm not having much luck with cabs at the moment. Not long after being sort-of asked out by a driver as we were right outside the house he'd already established I lived alone in, and reminded today of a far, far worse experience (which I could have sworn I'd blogged about, but Google can't find it so clearly I didn't) – that North Finchley anecdote in this Londonist article is me, though the sum of £500 was reached after a period of what he clearly felt was negotiation and I treated as 'keep him driving until I get to Muswell Hill Broadway and my god I'll walk the rest of the way' – that I wasn't much surprised to have a far less dodgy, but still irritating conversation the other day.
I get cabs to and from the vet because Mog is a fat bastard and, frankly, it's necessary. Last Friday I couldn't get a car from my usual company, so the vet nurse called the place they generally use. By the time he pulled up outside my house I was already quite pissed off, for reasons that will become apparent, and just wanting to get out, so when I asked how much, and he said "how much do you usually pay?", I'd had enough.
"I. Don't. Know," I probably hissed. "I don't normally use this company."
"Oh really?" he said. "Well then, five pounds." (Note: my usual firm charges me £4 for the same journey, but I always pay £5.)
"Fine, fine," I said, thrusting a tenner into his hand.
"So why did you use us today?"
I can do a pretty good 'what the fuck' face when I need to. Impatience is a virtue. "My usual firm were going to take 40 minutes, so the vet called you," I said, trying to exude 'do not talk to me, I'm busy and stressed, it's raining and I want to go home' from every pore.
"And we were faster?" he said, beaming with pride.
Yes, I thought. You took less time to pick me up than you're taking to get my fucking change. "You got here within 10 minutes. Look, can I just have my change please? My cat's got a broken jaw and I'd like to get him in the house."
"Ten minutes!" He started chuckling to himself with pride, then fumbling around the door pocket for something.
I, meanwhile, started opening the car door and rearranging the cat carrier in preparation to leave. How long does it take to find a fiver?
He finally got the money together and handed me the change, then tried to hand me a card with the taxi number on. I tried to push it back, but he foisted it on me, saying "next time, you call us.".
No, I don't think so, I yell in my head. Point one: you didn't know my street, even though it's a notorious rat run. Point two: then I had to direct you all the way from the station, even though my street turns off the main thoroughfare round here. What's the point of booking you to pick me up if you don't know where I live? Point three: you don't even seem to think that's bad form for a taxi driver. Point four: you just overcharged me, either because you don't know what the fare should be, or you deliberately went higher because you thought you were taking advantage of my ignorance. Point five: you seem to be a massive twat. Admittedly, I am not in the best of moods right now, but I'm still judging you and you are a pillock.
But I am British, so I just took the card, grimaced and said "Mmm. Maybe," through clenched teeth.
I should probably just get a car.