Taxi's as Heathrow Airport terminal

My awkward taxi journeys – #EndtheAwkward

(Image by Unisouth)

Scope’s End the Awkward campaign has been highlighting some of the awkward situations disabled people find themselves having to deal with. Here Rosemary Frazer, our Campaign Manager, writes about some of her more difficult taxi journeys.

Rosemary sitting in a wheelchair, with a grey carigan and short dark hair, smiling at the cameraI’m a wheelchair user and as much of London’s public transport system is inaccessible to me, I take lots of cabs, especially to and from work.

The vast majority of cab drivers I meet are absolutely wonderful and couldn’t be more helpful in getting me in and out of the cab. But occasionally I will get the odd (and I mean odd) cab driver who will say something which leaves me dumbfounded and wishing I was anywhere else but in the back of their cab.

“I’m a cab driver not a bloody ambulance driver!”

The first incident I remember was when taking a cab from my office to a meeting.  The cab pulled up and I asked the driver to park a little closer to the kerb to make it easier to get in the car.

“I’m a cab driver, not a bloody ambulance driver!” was the response.

I was so shocked and told him I didn’t want to get into his cab because of his attitude and would order another. I took another cab and arrived late and quite angry at my meeting.

“I suppose you were in there spending all your benefit money on booze.”

On another occasion, probably my favourite, a cab picked me up at a pub where I’d gone with colleagues to celebrate the end of a project. I got into the cab and the driver’s opening remark was:

“I suppose you were in there spending all your benefit money on booze.”

‘Oh dear!’ I thought, poor man, he doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for! From Islington to Bow he sat in silence as I lectured him on disabled people and the additional costs we face, providing statistic after statistic on how the benefits some disabled people receive go nowhere near meeting the additional costs we incur.

I think it’s fair to say he won’t be broaching that subject again with a disabled passenger!

“How long have you been crippled?”

The latest incident was just last week when on my way home from work the cab driver asked out of the blue,

“How long have you been crippled?”

It really took my breath away. I asked him to stop the cab and I paid and got out.  I just couldn’t remain in the cab any longer and pushed myself the rest of the way home.

Why am I sharing my experiences?

When I tell other cab drivers about these experiences they are absolutely furious and always say I hope you made a complaint.

For me such comments no longer have any lasting impact but I worry about people who have recently become disabled and who are perhaps out for the first time in their wheelchair. Such comments can and do rock a person’s confidence and may make them reluctant to venture outdoors or take a cab for a long time afterwards.

I was telling a cab driver I know quite well that I was thinking of writing about my experiences and he said you absolutely must as cab drivers need to know what not to do or say and there isn’t much training provided.

All passengers should be treated the same way and no one should make assumptions about our lives. When in doubt about the support to offer, of course it’s ok to ask, but think about the language you use. Hopefully reading about my experiences will help make journeys less awkward.

2 thoughts on “My awkward taxi journeys – #EndtheAwkward”

  1. Outrageous comments just because we’re disabled why should we be treated any differently by taxi drivers when we’re paying for our fare just like everyone else!!

  2. Reblogged this on Hey Kinectricity! and commented:
    @Scope: Another fantastic blog post by my very good #friend Rosemary (Campaign Manager at Scope) about some of her shocking and #awkward #taxi journeys – #EndTheAwkward. A must read. #Ability

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