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All tips great and small

By R&H taxi columnist Sherbet Trotter

Posted November 29, 2017
All tips great and small

Pic © Ignatius Rake

Some tips are a lot more welcome than others, writes Newquay taxi driver Sherbet Trotter.

As we approach the season of goodwill, one thing that often comes up is tipping.

We all hear the stories that if you don't tip the dustmen, they accidentally spill your rubbish over your path and if you don't tip the postman, he forces the A4 'do not bend' envelope through the A5 letterbox just to make sure it is delivered.

But I am a firm believer that good service helps when it comes to earning tips.

And yes, we have all heard the old jokes: have a drink on me and somebody gives you a teabag; or don't eat yellow snow; or keep the 50p ($0.67) change and get yourself a half – I would love to visit a pub where you can get a half of Guinness for 50p!

Now, as cab drivers, we have more than likely had the odd £10 or £20 at Christmas.

They are all appreciated, the same as when it's 10p or 20p as a pensioner rounds off the fare – in some cases that is a lot of money.

You can normally tell and I am always grateful.

There has been the odd time when somebody has taken the change and sorted out 5p in coppers, laughing as they give it to you.

I have on one occasion slung it straight out of the other window; on other occasions I have been over the top celebrating their generosity, telling them it was impossible to accept it.

I have also found a 1-cm cube of dope.

I am not a partaker, but it found a good medicinal home.

Another cabby got a book of stamps from one of my regulars.

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Now, this is a story of one of the legends of the cab trade who worked in South East London and who is sadly no longer with us.

His name was Ron.

If Ron took to you, he would pass on valuable advice to a new cab driver, and I always credit him with helping me with brilliant advice and I have always been grateful for what he passed on.

Anyway, Ron knew how to earn a few quid and was a one-off when it came to repartee.

People always thought he was miserable, but he was one of the funniest men I have ever met.

On one occasion, he got stuck in the snow and had to abandon his car.

It took him three days to find it – he couldn't remember where he left it and had to wait till the snow thawed.

On another occasion, his car heater had packed up, bang in the middle of winter.

He was dressed in tights, thermal long johns, padded trousers, two pairs of socks, boots, a thermal vest, a shirt, jumper, body warmer, a padded jacket, scarf, balaclava and thermal gloves: Scott of the Antarctic couldn't have been better kitted out.

Anyway, he picks up a fare in the street.

The fare said: "It's cold in the car."

Ron replied: "It's colder at the bus stop."

But let's get back to his tip.

ford granada
One careful owner: A Ford Granada t'other day. © Rudolf Stricker

Tuesday nights, we used to pick up one of the local barmaids from the pub she worked in.

She was an elderly lady who took no prisoners, and she would take her husband out with her.

Now, Ron had to pick the pair of them up one Tuesday and as they are driving along Ron can smell shit.

The window gets wound down, hoping the smell disappears, but to no avail.

Anyway, Ron has to drop them a few doors away from where they live.

They get out and the smell seems to disappear, but Ron has to check the old velour seat in the back of his Granada.

There is no option – you cannot tell if the seat is wet without the touch of the bare hand.

Ron checks the seat.

To his relief, it is dry.

Then, as Ron goes to pull away, he notices in the glare of his headlights a choco log dropping out the bottom of one of the husband's trouser legs.

Luckily it wasn't an unwelcome tip!

Be lucky!

Cheers, Sherbet. Personally, I always make a point of tipping taxi drivers and waiters. After all, taxi drivers perform an essential service and you never know when you might depend on one to get you home pissed. As for waiters, well, having worked in a restaurant myself I know that good manners are always appreciated and food tastes a lot better without a stranger's added saliva. Meanwhile, if you're not sure why you shouldn't eat yellow snow, here's Frank Zappa to enlighten you.

See also Coppers and cars, posted 23/10/17.

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Sherbet Trotter is a Newquay, Cornwall-based taxi driver who writes books, films and songs and who gave that Rake bloke a lift the other day. We liked the cut of his jib so we immediately gave him a column.

Engage with the Rake & Herald on FaceBook here and Twitter here. Better still, buy a T-shirt here.

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