Monday, September 27, 2004
It all started on Sunday night. I had an interview lined up for Monday morning in an out-of-town office park tailor made for private vehicular commuters and (thus) not well served by public transport. So, in a rare case of Witho being prepared in advance, I phoned up to book a taxi for the next morning. What could be a simpler procedure?
Open Yellow Pages to taxi numbers
Do the following until a taxi is booked:
Call Taxi Number
- If call is answered, request taxi for 08:30 Monday morning, chez Witho
- Else, find next taxi number
Establish if taxi is available at allotted time
- If so, book taxi
- Else, find next taxi Number
Now, this procedure had a bug; the analyst/programmer failed to recognize that there could be a scenario where absolutely no taxis were available in Taunton at that time...
For the first couple of calls, I just thought it was bad luck, but as the unchanging pattern developed, it started to look suspicious. When we asked why, we were told simply, firmly but rather enigmatically: "School run", as if on hearing these words we would nod sympathetically and say: "Ahh, well I'm so sorry that I would like to pay you a not insubstantial sum of money to be conveyed somewhere during a busy period, I shan't bother you again..."
"School run". What do they mean, "School run"? I didn't quite understand whether this referred to all the taxis being used for the school run (when there are surely plenty of Chelsea Tractors to perform that role) or whether the taxi drivers simply refused to take fares during that period, due to the traffic chaos which inevitably ensues between 8am and 9am in any town during term time. What was clear to me was that I was going to struggle to get to this interview. It appeared that my only choice would be to walk the 2 miles to the interview and arrive flustered and bedraggled.
All was not lost, though. By a stroke of luck I had, a couple of weeks previously, acquired a bus timetable for the region and managed to find a bus which went somewhere near the interview venue.
However, maybe the taxis were trying to tell me something. Something like: "Don't bother Witho, you won't get the job". Because they would have been spot on...