The alarm went on the phone, and I awoke suddenly from a mild nightmare (no real danger or monsters, just that inability to run quicksand leg bullshit). Bleary eyed, horrifically confused and lying dangerously on my left arm, I reached over, grabbed the phone and answered its alarm
It was 7.20am. The actual radio alarm clock hadn’t worked. Either it had broken, or I had failed to turn it on last night. Both options merited a withering look. The alarm clock cowered. I lay back down and contemplated my options.
Get up now and have a leisurely morning consisting of breakfast, shower, cup of coffee, or squeeze every last screed of comfort out of the bed. It was raining, as I had predicted, and had called a taxi for 8.10am. I smiled at the window, through which I could comfortably see the gloom outside. I hadn’t even got up and I was already ahead. Ensconced in comfort, I thought about my options for a further 25 minutes. Then it was time to get up.
A pre booked taxi does not come with a guarantee. They are experts at turning up too early or too late. I had left enough time either side for either eventuality. If I had a deodorant shower I would have time on the near side, and if the taxi was late I had a nice 20 minute buffer zone in which I could confidently languish before the need to panic would arise. Once again, for a Monday, things were looking ok.
Opting for more bed time I decided on the superficial deodorant shower, brushed my teeth, washed my head, found clothes, got my keys, money, and knick knacks and put in a fresh pair of contacts. I looked at the clock, 7.59am. Still winning.
I went downstairs to make some tea. As the kettle boiled I prepped my coat, phone in the inside pocket, earphones at the ready, and put the keys in my bag. I was ready to walk out the door. I was the very model of the suburban equivalent of a Navy Seal in my readiness.
On the way back into the kitchen I remembered it was raining, I would need a hat. A potential spanner in my perfect planning, given that its life away from sitting atop my head is one of mystery, seeing it turn up in the most unusual places. I think it may have a drinking problem. This worry was nullified upon the realisation that I was standing on it. Quickest hat find in the house’s history.
With the kettle boiled, I made tea, sat down and turned on the news. The phone went again. It was 8.10am exactly.
“Hello, Pat?” An Australian voice.
“Is that Pat?”
“No. This is not Pat”. Ominous opening salvo.
“You have a taxi booked for 8.10am?”
“Yes I do”. Bang on time. I make a start for the hall to get my coat.
“I’m very sorry to be leaving it so late but I’m afraid we have a huge backlog this morning and can’t make your pick up. So I’m ringing to see if you would like some numbers for other taxi companies?”
It wasn’t delayed. It wasn’t held up in traffic. It wasn’t involved in an incident. The car didn’t transform into a Decepticon and attack the city. They rang to say they wouldn’t be collecting me this day. I would not be collected. Fuck him, they thought.
The rage welled up inside me. I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I wanted to know why I was the one that would not be collected. There was a tirade of invective building up inside me, questions and accusations in equal measure. But of course I was knocked sideways by the sheer offhandedness of the call.
Pat says what?
“What do you mean…?”
“We have half a fleet out today. We’re very sorry but we just don’t have the cars. Can I give you another num…”
“Numbers I have. Like your one for example. Unless you have a number for a magic car that’s actually a helicopter?”
“Jesus… So you couldn’t ring before now, the exact time the taxi was meant to be here?”
“I’m really sorry”.
“That’s some professional operation you’re running up there. Really, it is”.
“Sir there is nothing I can do”.
“Yes there is…” I angrily took the phone away from my face and shook my fist at it, as if she could see me. Not my best retort.
What was the hierarchy that designated who gets collected and who is left behind? I imagined a world in which Global Warming jumped its destructive timetable forward in Hollywood-esque fashion, and I had been told I would have a spot on the giant Illuminati ship constructed to withstand the cataclysmic events unfolding all around us. Then on the day I was to join the rest of what remains of humanity I get a phone call to say “Sorry Pat, we had to leave without you”. My name is not fucking Pat!
I thought of the other people that were collected. Sitting there, happy and dry. Off to work with smiles on their faces. I hated every one of them.
Then it was back to the problem at hand. It was raining. Hard. I wouldn’t get a taxi in time, and besides I had vowed never, ever, to use a taxi again. But, what were my options? Go back to bed? Tempting. Walk? Out of the question. Then there was only one. The bike. Cycling uphill in the rain. Wind whipping the rain into my face on every turn of the wheels.
So from a happy-up-on-time-no-one-can-bring-me-down-look-I-even-made-fucking-tea beginning, this was what I was left with. I was on all fours looking under the stairs for my rain proof trousers, and I was going to be late.
I wont bore you about the 3 mile uphill struggle to work that day, apart from saying that I know I was videoed by a great many motorists and pedestrians, probably owing to the fact that I cycled most of the way shaking my fist at the Heavens and screaming vile imprecations at the whole of mankind.
Thanks Taxi Bastards.