Pages

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Thirteen, Unlucky For Some...



Thirteen! THIRTEEN! I have to press the...

No...wait... I...I... think they are joking...

They could be the same four men as last week...

Do I press the emergency button...?

I Can't find it on the menu...

Damn console...

Can't think...

Adrenalin surging...

Scared...

The banging I can hear is my pulse beating in my ears...

They hurt my colleague, I KNOW it's them...

Was that a punch in the back of my head? Head stinging. Can't think...

I've forgotten where I am... adrenalin too high... hard to breath...

Another punch, they are shouting at me to stop you cunt.

Drive into the wall, take them all out... That's what I've always told other cabbies I'll do...

Clarity. Time my colleagues helped me on this...

I'm trying to drill down through the menu to find and press the emergency button...

Another slap to my face, still somehow driving... Too far away from help...

PRESS THE FUCKING EMERGENCY BUTTON!!


No response...

Console telling me to try again...

Out of radio and data range...

No one is coming...Again...

Oh Fuck...

Oh...

F   u   c   k...

Beaten.

Robbed.

I'm tired of fear.

How was your day at work?


The introduction above isn't a dribbling written bit of fiction, It's an example of the actual moments in the mind of a Cab driver as he is about to be robbed or beaten or every other combination of fear that's in between. The Thirteen? That's the call sign of a cab that doesn't exist down my part of the world.  It's a code that means there is an emergency, not the usual three times a week idiot that runs off without paying me. It isn't the unconscious muppet that has been thrust upon me by the police to get him out of town. I'm talking about real fear, instinct for survival that's kicking in. Because my mind is in survival mode and not paying attention I am now a missile on four wheels, I have forgotten where I am on the grand map in my mind, I'm now only thinking about getting out of this insane reality.

I'm not a trained killing machine that the armed forces spews out to ply their trade in the world of sand and flies.  A police officer gets good training and more importantly eternal permission to fight back if needed and handle this situation.  I am not allowed to even partly use aggression or put other road users in danger.  I don't know what to do, how hard to kick, punch and bite.  I'm thinking about these thug's mothers and fathers, wondering if they have children, not believing that evil is so... Local.

They sit next to me anonymously, comfortable in that fact and not unlike the internet, the dark side of human nature can deviously, devilishly take hold for a short while.  I am not anonymous however, I have an ID badge.  I am more heavily regulated than someone out on parole, my every small rule break reported with fines and penalty points for putting two wheels on a pavement, eating, drinking, wearing budgie smugglers and baseball caps.

In my pretend perfect little cabby world, I would like to see anonymity to be a pre paid premium fare to get in my cab, I don't know you, so it's my risk. not the perceived public risk.  There are more murders and assaults on Cab drivers than the rare but no less important customer murdered or assaulted by a taxi driver gone nuts.  Pay by debit card and some form of I.D and you get me cheap and happy in the knowledge that I know who you are.


My Local Council regulate, badly, the business I am in, they talk only to a Cab association that has never made itself known to me or to any driver that I know.  Despite the knowledge of 357 years of the taxi business under our collective belts, you would think we would be self regulating by now. They have recently produced an absurd document in conjunction with a faceless clearly ill informed, Police liaison officer to help cab drivers to cope in "Difficult" situations.  The first important bit of advice he offers is, "Always be polite."  The second piece of important advice is, "Always retain control."  The last piece of advice they offer is, "That it is best if someone sits behind me."  The whole reason security companies build screens for taxis is because we get attacked from behind most of the time.  These stupid laughable absurdities do not even come close to help resolve the alarming but common situation in the first paragraph.

The little fella in the cage is the cab driver


I recently watched as my colleague had his left arm snapped below the elbow after a small gang of multi ethnic thugs waged war on his body treating it like a trampoline. A "Thirteen" wasn't called, no time.  Myself and a few cabbies from other daddies came to his aid and corralled them, we phoned the police and after we clearly identified them all, they were arrested and taken away.

Three months later I am driven to the ID suite in Brighton, shown photographs on a laptop by people who sub contract their services to the police and I couldn't recognise any of the now shaven headed and hair coloured trainee killers.  Six months later they are all told charges are to be dropped, I'm never told this, I hear it in a conversation at work, it seems I am not important enough to be told and the thugs I helped capture are let free and now pass me smirking almost daily.  I have in my time as a Cabbie been kicked under my cab, slashed at with a knife, drop kicked, cigarettes put out on my arms neck and hands, held hostage for a couple of hours and a father and his sons drag me out of my cab and beat me for missing a turning. I have numerous others involving spitting, scratching, y'now small stuff. The list sadly is too long.





Please don't tell me to change my job. This is not a career this is my business. I do have the right to work without fear, we all do. The impact that the cheap alcohol filled and well informed empowered social miscreants have on you and me is starting to be felt now.  Maybe a vigilante will surface.  Maybe someone is about to break and fight back. Maybe they've had enough of being beaten down and ignored.  I genuinely pray everyday that I remain calm enough that it won't be me.  I'm no Travis Bickle, but I understand fear enough now that it could be me...or you.