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NEWS & FORTEANA

I've got money back in my caravan

By R&H taxi columnist Sherbet Trotter

Posted June 25, 2015
Tales & Happenings from a Newquay Taxi Driver

Some passengers are not the sharpest tools in the box, but it's the taxi driver who still loses out.


Taxi drivers are sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to runners, or bilkers as they are known in the trade.

They always have the element of surprise.

You can always ask for money up front, but sometimes you don't need to as they are that thick.

Once again this happened with a fine upstanding tourist on holiday.

I will call him Mr Thick Clotted Cream, or Mr TCC for short.


Cornish clotted cream tea – jam first, mind!
High in fat, low in IQ: Some clotted cream. Jam first in Cornwall, mind. (Check bottom for credit)


ALARM BELL ONE – AN ACORN DROPS ON YOUR HEAD
"Hello, mate. I've got a problem."

Those give-away words.

Their problem is now going to be yours.


ALARM BELL TWO – YOU BANG YOUR HEAD ON A DOOR FRAME
"I've got money in my caravan."

"The bank won't give me any money out on my card."

There must be a problem with the card.


ALARM BELL THREE – YOU HAVE THE MOTHER OF ALL HANGOVERS AND THE DENTIST DECIDES TO DRILL OUT AN OLD FILLING WITH NO ANAESTHETIC
"Can I pay when I get back to my caravan?"

"I have got money there."


TIME FOR AN ELEMENT OF TRUST
Now and again you have to have a little trust in the human race.

The trouble is, the odd liberty-taker wears away the amount of trust you place.

Anyway, against my better judgement, I decided to give Mr TCC the benefit of the doubt.

Mr TCC then offered me his wallet as security.

Now, I have no need for his wallet as he could report it lost, but as he offered I did have his 'faulty' bankcard.

At least it gave me some comeback, though in 30 years of cabbing I have never reported a runner to the police even though it is a criminal offence (imagine the crime figures going up for every runner).

I mean, 200 years ago it would have been up there with sheep stealing, possibly a hanging offence.

Now it's "Oh well, they've had a hard childhood".

"Didn't have any credit on their iPhone to call ChildLine" is probably the next line.


JUST HERE, MATE
Anyway, with his card in my ashtray, we set off.

He told me where he was staying, along with half his life story.

Eventually we get to his caravan site.

Now, a lot of campsites do not want you driving round with pissheads who might not be even staying there, but Mr TCC knew exactly where he was going.

"Just here, mate."

"The caravan is about five pitches along."

Secure in the fact I've got Mr TCC's bankcard, I let him go to get his money.

Ten minutes goes by.

No Mr TCC.

He could be asleep by now, or laughing his head off, but I wasn't worried: I had my insurance policy.

I could trace him!


newquay harbour in cornwall
Sitting on the dock of the bay: Newquay harbour in 2007 yesterday. (Check bottom for credit)


THE FESTIVAL IN THE HARBOUR
The next day I decided to go to the festival in the harbour, a nice sunny day and full of good local spirit.

I happened to pass the local community police stand.

They smiled and asked if I was having a good day.

For some reason, I stopped and asked: "Can I report a crime here?"

"I am a taxi driver and somebody went off without paying."

They hesitated.

"This probably isn't the right time really, but you can report it online," they said.

I thought to myself, they are right, they are here as more of a friendly presence and my crime report can wait another day.


THE HSBC BANK THE NEXT DAY
I queued up at enquiries and eventually got to speak to someone.

"Please can you relay a message to one of your customers?"

"He made off without paying last night and I am going to report him to the police as I was given his bankcard as security."

"We cannot do that," came the reply.

I stood there and must surely have had a bemused look of amazement on my face.

"OK," I said.

"I am just trying to save him aggravation."

"I will just hand the card into the police."


ONLINE CRIME REPORTING
This was easy 15 minutes all done.

Although I thought it might just be filed, I pressed the send button in hope of getting my £23 ($36) back.

Sadly, the next day a policewoman was shot dead in Manchester and my £23 loss felt like a total waste of everybody's time.

There was somebody shot only doing their job, and as much as the police can be a pain to people now and again, we all need them at some stage.

However, I was asked to take in the bankcard to the local station, which I did.

I spoke to an officer about my petty reporting of crime and he made it clear that every crime was important, and if you do a job you should get paid (common sense talking officer, I would make him Chief Constable).

I relayed that I would like him to donate any money they retrieved to the Police Benevolent Fund.

He made it clear he could not do that, but it was up to me what I did with my £23 if they retrieved it.

Within a week I get a call: there is a cheque waiting for me at the station – Mr TCC's mother had sent it and he had been let off with a warning (I'm sure the bloody bank could have done that).

Oh well, I thought, hopefully at least one less bilker on the street in the future.

I picked up the cheque, put it in my account and when I saw that it seemed to have cleared (rather more quickly than I thought it might!) I donated the £23 to the Police Benevolent Fund by card.


BASTARDS!
You have probably guessed: the cheque bounced.

So did my next direct debit, which cost me £28 in charges, and I was now a further £23 out of pocket, although after informing the police again (this time the mother had committed an offence – it must run in the in family) they chased it up and I was sent £26 by Mr TCC's mother again, the £3 extra for the inconvenience and my charges.


NEW MOTTO
If they haven't got the money, let them walk.

Or get their parents to pick them up.

I am sure Mr TCC's mother would have happily driven down from Gloucester at 4am!!


Be lucky!

Sherbet


See also Take me here, my man!, posted 22/5/15.


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.


Picture credits

Middle: A Cornish clotted cream tea by artist unknown.

Bottom: Newquay harbour by Nilfanion.

For licensing information click the above links.




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