Tuesday, 5 January 2010

When The Punters Run

There is probably not a taxi driver in the land that hasn't been caught out by a runner on more than one occasion, but the more experienced you get the less likely you are to fall victim to these scumbags.
One of the first rules of being a Glasgow taxi driver is "Never get out the cab". The bandit screen that protects the driver from the punters is there for a reason. Some members of the general public are dangerous and if the punters do a runner without paying, whatever the fare is, its not worth getting stabbed for. That's the theory............

This happened a number of years ago when I was still very inexperienced.

Between 2 and 3am one Saturday morning I picked up two males in their early twenties from one of the city centre taxi ranks and took them to Simshill on the south side of the city They seemed like decent young guys and were quite talkative with me, as is all too often the case. When we arrived at the street they had requested, the price on the meter read about £9.00.....

punter "just about half way down driver"

me "ok"

I continue for a couple of hundred yards....

punter "just here!"

I stop as requested and just as I notice that we have stopped at the bottom of a dark lane with a very long steep set of stairs, the door flys open and the two wankers are off and running up the stairs like fucking gazelles.
There has been several times in my life when I have been extremely fit, other times, moderately fit. At this time I was neither.
By the time I switch off the engine, jump out the cab, lock the door and get to the bottom of the stairs they have disappeared into the darkness. I ran up the stairs (maybe 100 yards) in a blind rage and by the time i reach the top I'm struggling for breathe. There is no sign of them anywhere, so its a 50 /50 gamble left or right. Left is downhill so off I run fueled only by adrenaline.
After approx another 100 yards I can make out two figures under a street light. It must be them, theres nobody else around, its 3am. As I get closer I see that they are just standing talking and oblivious to my charge. Maybe its not them, why aren't they running? Shit, what do i do now? There is two of them, at least 10 years my junior and I am completely exhausted. I'm probably going to get a good kicking here or at least look like a complete prat when I apologise for chasing them and return to my cab with my tail between my legs.
Fortunately when I get to within about 15 feet, one of them looks round and gets the fright of his life. I think I had fallen so far behind that they thought they were home and dry and they didn't expect to see the angry 6 foot taxi driver baring down on them.
They were off and running once more and luckily for me one of the robbing bastards was very fast. Much faster than me and much faster than his tubby mate. The athletic one disappeared into the night in no time which left me on the heels of fat boy. The pace of the pursuit had slowed to barely a jog now and I was exhausted. I was within 6 feet of him but I was finished. With the last of my energy I summoned up the loudest angriest voice I could muster and shouted

"GIVE ME MY FUCKING MONEY OR I'M USING THE CLUB"

We cant carry weapons in the taxi but I do have a very large Maglite torch which is about 16 inches long and very heavy.

To my surprise the guy stops saying

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'll give you the money."

He was every bit as tired as me and now that his buddy had ran off and left him he was ready to cough up.

I swear to god that I was about to collapse and had he ran just another 10 or 15 strides he was gone forever.

He opened his wallet and I removed the £10 note, waved my "club" angrily and returned knackered to my cab.

I was inexperienced and reckless and gave chase without thinking. This story had a happy ending but sadly for some drivers it doesnt and they end up being assaulted or worse. Its just not worth taking the chance for the sake of a couple of pounds.

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