I’VE been a taxi-driver for 30 years with Glasgow Taxis. It’s been a good job to have because it gives you control of your own working destiny. You can pick and choose when you work.
I’ve been a taxi marshal for nine years. It’s a lot easier now than when I first started. Glasgow Taxis launched the scheme back in 2006 or 2007. Getting the great Glasgow public used to the concept of ‘you have to wait in a queue’ was an interesting challenge at the beginning.
The rank at Central Station and the one at The Garage venue in Sauchiehall Street were the two city-centre ranks that people tended to avoid because you had this element saying, ‘I’m not waiting in any f****** queue’.
Once you got them into the routine of, ‘There’s a queue, there are marshals here’, the job itself became easier.
Nine, ten, eleven years ago, the trade was a lot busier than it is now, though certainly at this time of year, it’s as busy as it has always been. During this magical month of December, people spend money as if there’s not going to be a January.
But being a marshal is an interesting job. People do appreciate that you’re there. Sometimes they’re an hour in the queue but they’re prepared to wait that hour, because they know it’s organised and they know they’re not getting shafted by the fly-by-nights just coming up and jumping in the first taxi.
The drivers service the marshalled ranks better, too, because they know there’s control about who is actually getting in the taxi.
You meet all sorts as a marshal, even though you’re not talking to them for very long. You’d be amazed at the number of couples who join the taxi queue at the end and within half an hour, when they get to the front, they’re going home in separate taxis because they’ve fallen out while waiting. That happens more than you would think.
The job is never dull. You get the usual stories from some people about why they don’t have time to wait in the queue. There are people who tell you they’ve had a call or text from their wife or their girlfriend to say that they’ve just gone into labour. But our attitude towards that is, ‘Congratulations. Could you show me the text?’ And when they can’t show you the text you get a mouthful. They come up with all sorts of reasons about why they should be allowed to skip the queue.
We do a lot of work outside The Hydro as well. We get a lot of people who come up and tell us, ‘There’s a huge queue and my last train’s in 10 minutes’ time’. My argument is, ‘Well, unfortunately the vast majority of the people in the queue are going to get a train too’.
When people come out of The Hydro, the vast majority of Glaswegians will go over the bridge and walk up to Finnieston. You tend to find that the people in the queue are either going to the bus station or the train station, or they’re going to spend the night in a local hotel.
You just don’t have the facility to put somebody in a taxi in front of 400 people just because their train’s in 10 minutes’ time. I tell them all, the next time you come to the Hydro, and you want to get your train, leave before the last song.
Everybody turns around and says, ‘But the last song’s the best’. I say, ‘Well, is it worth staying to hear it and then pay for a taxi all the way home to Edinburgh?’
Most people come out after having had a good night, and they’re fine, but you do get the odd one. It’s like every job, really.
Source : HeraldScotland