In the midst of the ongoing heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 34° in Abingdon centre at lunchtime, a customer not usually known for her generosity randomly made a kind offer: “’ere’s two pound, love” she said, “go and buy yaself a cold drink from the Co-op.”
Getting in and out of the taxi for twelve hours a day was rapidly becoming unsustainable, in a car without air conditioning and especially intolerable during the long hours of waiting around which are required in the small town taxi driving business.
To have air conditioning running all day long increases fuel consumption by about 7 to 8 miles per gallon, for each day of increased temperatures. Given that fuel is the single biggest cost of running a taxi, anything which can be done to minimise expenditure is welcome.
Taxi business continues to be cyclical and seasonal. Sometimes, you can work hard all week, for sixty hours on shift and still end up with nothing in your pocket, once all of the bills have been paid. And no cash to buy food, save what can be earned by plying for hire on a weekday evening in Abingdon, in a slowly dying night time economy, with an hour and forty minutes between jobs.
Such an act of kindness on the part of my customer in the middle of intemperate conditions was especially welcome. It shows that despite the ongoing struggle to earn a living, that there are still those living among us in Abingdon who can see a need and will spontaneously offer to help.
In the summer of 2015, there was what became known as The Abingdon One – a pigeon trapped in a former supermarket in central Abingdon, kept alive by passing members of the public who fed it with bird seed and water from a water gun, through the glass fronted building’s letterbox. Trivialised by some because they are pests, but a sentient being nonetheless and saved by collective action of local people.
Twice in the last two weeks, some friends who live on the River Thames in Abingdon rescued some abandoned cygnets and looked after them in their own home, after adults of one swan family were chased off by other adult swans, leaving cygnets isolated and unable to fend for themselves.
And in the last week, a pregnant female cat was abandoned in a box outside an Abingdon vet. Although she lost two of her three kittens, she later gave birth with the assistance of staff of the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary at Stadhampton, dependent on the generosity of volunteers.
For a doggedly and stubbornly self reliant human, accepting the kindness of others is hard. But learning to accept help freely offered is a humbling experience. Kindness, like beauty, is all around us, even in the most stressful and seemingly unending of situations.
That there are such people living among us in Abingdon, who will help other sentient beings in distress shows that there is still hope for humankind. There's always hope.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday 12 July 2017
- "Go and buy yaself a cold drink from the Co-op", 19 June 2017
- Cygnet now safe, 27 June 2017
- Abingdon Herald, Cat nuzzles new kitten after being dumped and abandoned in box, 10 July 2017, as consulted 10 July 2017