With ever increasing levels of bureaucracy and the vicissitudes of the nighttime travelling public, it is all too easy to take for granted the freedom which is an inherent part of earning a living by running a vehicle plying for hire in semi-rural Oxfordshire.
During the interminable weeks of the school summer holidays, there is barely any contracted work, scheduled for weeks in advance. But there are a goodly number of one-off, pre-booked jobs to such salubrious destinations as airports and the cruise terminals at Tilbury, Avonmouth and Southampton docks.
These places are located on the very edge of the kingdom and have an almost otherworldly, semi desolate quality about them, devoid of humans walking the streets. There is usually a sparkling and busily efficient cruise terminal building, in the middle of a sort of post urban industrial landscape.
Invariably, passengers have great stories to tell in anticipation of their adventures to come and I love to hear them all, especially when they are travelling to places overseas in which I have also worked or travelled. Every job I undertake to the airport these last years, I have also wished that I was getting on an aircraft and flying off to somewhere life enhancing, like Jerusalem.
Nonetheless, back in Abingdon, the time in between this type of work is spent waiting for the phone to ring, or the device to beep, indicating a direct message has come through, with more work. Well over half the time on call is spent waiting. It leaves plenty of time to help people.
A writer friend works from home, in a village between Abingdon and Wantage. It's not that far from either town, if you are fortunate enough to own or have access to a car, which gives you the freedom to travel where you want, when you want, no matter what time of day or night. However, it is a different situation altogether if you are dependent on public transport. Someone else who lives on the other side of the same village even described it recently as "the middle of nowhere".
One rain sodden Friday morning just after Easter, I had completed the school run and was looking forward to another day spent waiting in Abingdon.
A call came in from my friend, who was pushing a deadline and would lose her job if it was not met. A local computer shop had provided the wrong lead for her computer and was proving obsequiously incapable of providing the correct one.
Thanks to my local knowledge and contacts I was in a position to source a replacement and use my taxi to run it out to her. These kinds of jobs which make a material difference to somebody else's life, and my own, are always worthwhile.