What’s it Like?
Let’s get it straight – don’t let anybody tell you driving a taxi is the way to a guaranteed easy life. Like every line of business, cab driving has its challenges as well as its rewards.
First and foremost, you’re dealing with people, all the time. If you’re a people person – and many of us are – then taxi driving can offer a fabulous outlet for your interests and personality. Taxi drivers are, rightly, famed for sharing their opinions, after all! You can also make some pretty decent tips in the taxi business, especially if you’re good at getting on with your customers. If you don’t really enjoy chatting to lots of different people on a regular basis, then maybe cab driving isn’t the answer for you.
As well as a way of life that means meeting new people all the time, the cab trade also gives thousands of workers a unique sense of freedom. Tried other things but got tired of meddling bosses telling you what to do, all the time?
Of course taxi drivers have rules to follow but, most of the time, it’s just you, your vehicle and your customers. It’s up to you to keep the vehicle fuelled and tidy, find the best way to the destination and make the most of the journey. But there’s no supervisor sitting with you all day, so really it’s down to you how you approach the job and aim to get the most out of it for you and your family. This said, there’s usually a strong sense of community among the local taxi trade in any area and you can expect plenty of support and advice from your colleagues in the cab business.
In terms of working times, you’ll probably have a choice. For most people, ‘unsociable’ hours are part of the deal. Put simply, there’s more money to be made at busy times, like evenings and weekends, when other people are off work and out and about socialising. Again, this isn’t for everyone, though many taxi drivers find it gives them more time during the day to spend with the family or catching up with other jobs. There’s also many cab drivers with enviably low handicaps on the golf course!
Some cab drivers – often older people ‘winding down’ in their career, stick to working quieter, day-time shifts. This becomes more of a life-style decision, where you can let yourself slow down while at the same time keeping your hand in, maintaining social contact and earning some spare cash. For many, this is an attractive option in later life, rather than going from full-time employment to sitting at home with nothing to do all day.
Many younger and middle-aged people in the cab trade do work longish hours – after all, the more you work, the more you earn. On the other hand there’s usually plenty of time in between to catch up on reading or calling your pals.
The range of backgrounds among people in the taxi trade is usually quite surprising. Wander along a taxi rank in any major town or city and you’ll likely find people of all ages, men and women. It’s also common to find some drivers reading the local paper, someone reading a text book for an exam, someone else surfing on their smartphone and others in a group, chatting in the back of a cab. You’ll find some who are great mechanically and look after their own vehicle, whereas others never so much as touch the bonnet and have a local garage that looks after all the technical stuff.
Overall, the UK’s taxi drivers are a much more varied and skilled group of people than most people realise. Certainly if you’re a people person or like being left to your own devices without too much interference, then the taxi trade could be a great choice for your career.
Next Section: The UK Taxi Trade