Sunday, 29 April 2012

Unusual Passengers... Jammie the Sniper

Unusual Passengers
James (or Jammie) the Sniper.

This was a cheerful character that I picked up early on a Saturday morning to take to the Community Centre for the day away from his long suffering wife.  He opened his front door clutching the top of his trousers saying to me; ‘can you fasten up my belt for me, my missus can’t do it, arthritis’.  ‘Sure’ I said, ‘stand still’.  Minutes later we were in the car heading over to the Community Centre and he started telling me about his Army days, I must admit that I love listening to old Army stories.  ‘I was a sniper’ he said, I looked at him and replied that I had never met a sniper before; ‘yes in the Second World War, I didn’t want to be, but they made me.’

‘Did you shoot anybody?’ I asked.  ‘Yes’ he said; ‘I was pretty ruthless, I’ve shot quite a few Germans.  I’m ninety-one’ he said.  I really thought he was about seventy six, but that meant that he was around nineteen to early twenties during WW2.  He went on to tell me that he was in the D. Day Landings in Normandy, and that he and his platoon attacked a machine gun position, capturing it from the Gunners, and then turning the gun onto the German lines killing many soldiers. ‘Did you get injured in the war then?’ I asked.  ‘Oh yes’ he replied; ‘I got shot in the foot, crossing a river on France, in a small boat, I fell out of it and got washed down the river, it was a bit hairy, but I got through it alright.’

 Although he was a bit unsteady on his feet, there was nothing wrong with his memory.  He could sing all the old war songs; no problem about that.  I looked at this frail old man sat in the car at the side of me who didn’t look like he would say boo to a mouse and wondered about how different his early life in those way years had been to mine.  He must have seen some weird and wonderful sights.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Private Medical Examination

Before you become a Taxi Driver, you need to have a Private Medical Examination...

Off you go to your Doctor, with your cheque book in your pocket for your medical, very nervous, happy in the knowledge that if you fail this you can’t become a taxi driver.  So obviously your blood pressure reading is going to be a lot higher than it normally is.

Now your fate depends on the Doctor, some are very understanding, and if you go along with a sad story about how hard it is to get a job anywhere, and you have three kids to feed and this taxi job is the last resort they nod understandingly and sign your form and away you go.

However if you have a keen and conscientious doctor like mine you get a proper and thorough check up.

Eyesight and hearing are tested, pulse rate, blood pressure and heart beat in fact everything you can think of, however the doctor merely has to scan through your medical records on his laptop to come up with the answers he needs.

My doctor looked at his chart and told me that I was overweight for my height and advised me to get more exercise and cut out the ‘chip butties’.  What’s new.  Luckily I am in reasonably good health so I didn’t have any problems and passed the tests.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Smartly Dressed Driver.

I always thought, if I ever became a taxi driver I would try and look smart.  Therefore I have always worn a shirt and tie everyday when driving my taxi.  I would look upon it as a ‘discipline of work’ and it came quite naturally to me after twenty years of wearing a suit and tie when I worked for a large insurance company as a financial advisor.  I was to find though that this little dress code of mine was to bring funny looks from many of the other taxi drivers I met on my travels.  They probably thought that I was odd or mental or something, never mind.

I found that a lot of the ‘old dears’ using the car felt a lot more at ease with me and some even asked the radio controller to send me next time on the call.  They obviously thought I was old fashioned and harmless, and felt safe with me.  The owner of the taxi firm was more than happy with my appearance and said on several occasions that he wished more of his drivers wore a tie.  I found that when he wanted to make a good impression with a new client or company account I was one of the drivers who would be sent on those jobs, generally ferrying business men from the company to the rail station or airport.  Over the years I was to find that people would jump into my car, take a look at me and say, you don’t see many taxi drivers wear a tie.  Usually I would reply, well I can look scruffy if you like, but more often than not, I would just say, my Mum got me dressed this morning.