One thing you notice when you are a driving instructor is how certain groups of drivers behave on the roads. Taxi drivers, for example, fall into two categories. The official **˜black & whites’ – that’s the big cabs you can legally flag down – stop anywhere they want, and the more incovenient or dangerous the spot, the more likely they are to stop there. Private hire cabs – the ones you book by phone – typically drive everywhere at 50mph, even when they’re executing one of their familiar U-turns in heavy traffic on a main arterial road without the use of indicators. It saves fuel, you see.
So perhaps the one I encountered this evening ( well, 20/08/08 – I was moving the blog) needs to go back to Taxi Driver College. I was with a pupil and we were driving through a set of traffic lights – the kind where the single lane becomes two on the approach and then becomes one again after you’ve gone through. It had rained quite heavily and there was spray, and it was fairly dull. The pupil was driving at 40mph and the lanes were just merging back into a single. We’d had the usual rush of VW Golfs and Corsas determined to get past just so they could sit in front of a learner instead of behind one. But right at the last minute a taxi comes flying up and slams his brakes on just in front of us, and then spends the next two miles tailgating the cars in front, resolutely refusing to make eye contact. It was dangerous enough for us to have to swerve and brake harshly. This, of course, is standard taxi-driver behaviour, but when the road eventually became a dual carriageway he sped off at around 80mph in a most un-taxi like way. I suspect he was probably embarrassed by what he’d done and was uncomfortable driving around those who’d seen him do it.
I was out with a pupil last night (20/08/08 actually – I’ve been messing with the blog software) and we were driving in the left lane of a two lane road. Our lane became a bus lane after about 500 metres and I’d pointed out to the pupil that she should plan ahead because there were parked cars in it. Meanwhile I was watching this guy in a people-carrier who had been following us about 3 car lengths behind for the last quarter of a mile. As my pupil approached the bus lane merge I could see this idiot speed up just enough to prevent her from moving out. He had to break the speed limit to do it, since my pupil was doing exactly 30mph, but then he just sat alongside us. My pupil was obviously flustered and the instant the car twitched (obviously, I wasn’t going to let her have an accident) he sounded his horn. You could almost see the look of joy on his face – similar to what it must be like if you win the lottery. It was probably the highlight of his whole week sounding that horn at a learner.