*Disclaimer – I had no images of me in a taxi and I’m too shy to take one so I used a random image of me in a hotel lobby instead*
Now, I know most of my blogs basically include me moaning about the world whilst trying to see the funny side. But this week I thought I’d mix it up a bit and actually be positive *air horns*
I find travel extremely stressful (bear with I’m starting negative but it gets better), as a wheelchair user it used to be something that would keep me up at night. I would worry that I wouldn’t be able to get the right taxi and it would delay the timing of my arrival. I would panic that once I got in the taxi the driver wouldn’t know how to get me in the car and I wouldn’t be safe. These were all legitimate worries but all barriers that could be avoided. Now that I regularly take taxis, I thought I’d share the good parts and for any drivers out there you may learn a thing or two. If you’re not a taxi driver – I don’t know see what you think anyway…
1) Let’s start with the booking
When you book a taxi it is usual that the operator wants to get the job sorted ASAP so they can get to the next customer. However, a disabled customer may want extra reassurance and to talk through what is required. It’s sometimes hard to have the space and time to do this so allowing the customer to go through all of this and make sure details are correct, this avoids any confusion for when the car arrives.
2) Speak to the customer, not the friend
A very common situation for me is when a driver arrives they will always look for the friend/PA and speak to them first. I absolutely love it when a driver says hello and asks me how my day is. This means that I already feel relaxed and able to say what I need. Obviously if the customer would rather the friends spoke then great, but just don’t make assumptions.
3) Small talk – not personal
The best question I ever got asked is, if the beast from the east returns what 5 foods would you get from the shop incase you’re snowed in? It’s daft but I loved just having a non-disability chat. Unfortunately I regularly get asked really personal questions (cc old blog – ‘can i just ask‘) so when someone asked me this I was buzzing. To answer the question I said, “rice, eggs, bacon, bread and crisps”. What would you say?
4) Refer to their name – not their disability
A regular welcome I get when driving into the taxi is “your my third wheelchair today!” as if it’s another point in a game. This makes me laugh every time and I answer “Wehey!!” but if I’m being honest it’s a bit weird isn’t it? The best thing is that people think you know the other customers who are wheelchair users too. (I get that a lot – cc “I know disabled people too!“). Really, it doesn’t really matter how many other customers you have picked up – I don’t need to know. But if you do want to bring it up we’re not wheelchairs we’re ‘wheelchair users’. It may sound like a small thing but it means a lot when people get it right.
5) Have a laugh!
Honestly, I have had so many giggles in a taxi with drivers who know me well and just get on with it. My favourite one is when my chair had this phase of picking up so many dog hairs it would drop random clumps in places I would go. A taxi driver picked one up in his car and said “I’ll take this shall I?” I was so embarrassed and said “I’m sorry I keep dropping dog balls everywhere” and then absolutely lost it for at least 10 minutes, shaking all the way into work.
So there you have it, that’s my insight into what makes a good taxi driver. Taxis are a huge part of my day and when it goes wrong it can really affect my mood and confidence but when it goes right it’s just one more thing I don’t have to worry about. Obviously I’m only speaking from my point of view but these are just some points I thought may be useful to someone, even if you’re not a taxi driver but can relate with this in any way. And to some of the taxi drivers who pick me up thanks for putting up with my small talk and sorry about the dog balls…
As always please let me know if you enjoyed this or if you would like to have a natter head over to my contact page!