Saturday, 3 December 2011

The taxi queue.

Stupidly, I neglected to factor in a delayed arrival, Friday night and Christmas party season to my usual travel plans, so I found myself at the end of a taxi queue at 12:45am today.  These days when I travel to the airport, I use the very efficient and affordable Skybus and then catch a taxi home from there for a fraction of the cost of a taxi from the airport.

Usually I step straight off the bus and into a waiting cab at the rank right outside Southern Cross station.  Not last night/this morning.

I'd spent a couple of days in Perth on business and made it to the airport by the skin of my teeth (3 minutes until baggage check in closed).  The flight was delayed taking off and then was slower than usual due to a lack of wind or something, so I wasn't at the baggage carousel in Melbourne until after midnight.  I was like a zombie, my body clock not sure was going on after spending two nights on a schedule which was three hours behind my usual time zone.  This meant that I'd been awake since 5am Perth time.

Anyway, I had my return ticket for the Skybus and only needed to wait for a couple of minutes before one came along.  I managed to get a seat and twenty minutes later was walking out to the cab rank where there were about twelve people in front of me.  After fifteen minutes only one cab had pulled up. Drastic action was needed.  I started talking to people in the queue and discovered that quite a few of them had destinations within the CBD.  They were getting frustrated and the trams were still running so I gently suggested the tram as an alternative solution.  I managed to get eight (grateful) people out of the queue this way and was soon second in line.

The guy in front of me was making calls to see if he could get a friend to come and get him.  He said that I could have the next cab that arrived.

Behind me in the queue was a group of six people who looked to be in their sixties.  They had been out on the town - the men were in black tie and the women were wearing shiny things.  They were also carrying wine glasses and screaming for a maxi taxi.  They'd only been waiting for a short while when they started to hoot and wave at any passing vehicle that vaguely suggested it would be a suitable mode of transport for their merry crew.  In my exhausted state, they were too much for me.

At one point I noticed another man had joined the head of the queue and was standing there looking like he was trying to be inconspicuous.  He was plastered and was falling asleep on his feet.

"Mate, that's the wrong end of the queue," I said, choosing a friendly tone.

"What?" he replied in an equally friendly tone.  Good, he wasn't dangerous.

"You're standing at the front.  You need to go down the other end," I said pointing in the distance.  It was no longer possible to see the end of the queue.

"Nah," he said unconvincingly.

"Yes," I said firmly, smiling.

"I'd be better off walking."


And off he went.

Then a taxi appeared.  I pounced and called out to the queue my suburb to see if anyone wished to share the cab.  Two women were quite a way down the queue were going past my suburb.  They looked okay, so I agreed to share the cab with them.  They were very grateful, saying how lucky they were and they never would have thought to ask.

Hopefully they will ask next time and I'll be in the queue!

The driver said that it was a very busy night and he hates it when it's busy.  None of us could believe he would say such a thing.  He explained that on a night like this fights break out at unsupervised ranks and on the streets as people become more and more desperate to get a cab ride home.

Note to self, catch a cab from the airport during the Christmas party season!

Head on pillow and lights out at 2am.

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