Last weekend, I went out to work both Friday and Saturday nights, in order to earn the not insignificant amount of money which is required to pay for the fuel, to undertake at least two weeks of school runs.
Working nights carries with it an inherent risk to personal safety, due to the effects on personal behaviour of some people, who have consumed too much alcohol. It can all change in an instant, from one customer to the next.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, I was sat at position number two on the Ock Street taxi rank in Abingdon, scanning my rear view and wing mirrors, for the body language of approaching potential customers.
A young man got out of the taxi at the front and asked to go to Drayton. Unbeknownst to him, I knew the young man's mother, so agreed to take him. "By the time we had reached the end of Ock Street, I had twice said to him "Tell me if you are going to be sick and I will stop, mate."
By the time we had reached the temporary lights on Drayton Road, at the edge of Abingdon, we had been overtaken in the roadworks by a man who was driving in the face of oncoming traffic. Instinctively, I sounded the horn, as a warning of danger, but he clearly took it the wrong way. As a means of communication, sounding the horn is somewhat limited.
Between Abingdon and Drayton he had stopped his car in the middle of the road and got out of it, for a confrontation, so I locked the doors and drove around him, as it was safe to do so.
He was hell bent on an argument though and had stopped again in the middle of the road outside Drayton Post Office. This time, he was not going to let me go and though I reversed up and tried to turn down a service road, he again blocked my way. All the time, my passenger in the back was repeatedly saying he was going to be sick.
The man approached the back of my taxi, trying to open the locked door and banging on the side of my car. He let go of the door, so I slowly drove away as he vented his anger on the side of my taxi.
No person should have to suffer such violent incidents during the course of their work. But we are more susceptible to road rage than others, being on the road for so many thousands of miles more than a regular motorist.
I'm going to have to get on with installing cameras inside my taxi. Once I have earned the money to pay for them, of course. The young passenger? He was sick as soon as he stepped out of my taxi and he walked off without paying – a crime known as bilking.
But I spoke with his mother on Monday.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 07 September 2016