How not to ruin a cabbie’s night

Don’t throw up in the backseat plz

Aslam Uddin, 52, has been driving cabs in London for over 10 years. 

Originally from Bangladesh, he joined Addison Lee from a rival firm four years ago. He recently returned to the driver’s seat after a two year battle with illness. His longest ever journey was a £450 drive from London to Manchester.

I talked to him about cab etiquette, whether it’s ever cool to vomit or get all PDA on the backseat and whether he likes the question: “So, you been busy tonight mate?”

Yes, Aslam has been busy this evening

Yes, Aslam has been busy this evening

How to chat with a cabbie

Talking is fine. But sometimes – and this is very rare – people get a little bit rude. I can always tell when people are taking the piss. My recent passengers have been very nice, polite people. I’ve found that rudeness was more of a problem when I first started the job.

At the last company I was with I think people had different expectations about the way they could behave. With Addison Lee they’ve paid good money and they want a good journey. I think it means you have better conversation and less rudeness.

When it comes to phones, I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to ask a person to get off the phone. I can’t see how that would come up. Likewise, nobody’s ever asked me to get off my phone. Everybody’s got a phone now – but if there was an emergency and you needed mine – no problem, you can use it.

Doing a runner isn’t cool. Ever

People have done a runner on me twice – both before I was with Addison. It’s not ever acceptable to do it. These two people opened the doors and left while we were at the lights. There was nothing I could do. It’s a very powerless feeling. What could I do? You can’t ever leave the car, if I go outside it’s all over.

Look, if you don’t want to pay it’s still not acceptable to leave in that way. After people do a runner, I call control, I tell them what’s happened and control blacklist the numbers.

I would never ask a passenger to leave myself, whatever the circumstances. I am a cab driver and as a profession, our job, our duty is to drop passengers off where they need to go. If people are rude, they’re rude. I have to get on with my job.

It gives me satisfaction when people are happy with the work I’ve done.

Leave the beers outside, don’t throw up inside

“Please sir, madam, no drinking inside my car” is what I always say when people ask. No drinks other than water or soft drinks. I don’t mind waiting for you to finish your drinks, but once they’re done we need to go.

Vomit, well, if you’re feeling ill I’ll stop the car and let you sort yourself out. It’s an emergency situation. Is it right for people who’ve overdone it to book taxis? It’s not ideal. Sometimes people feel well when they order it and after twenty minutes in the car they’re unwell. It’s a risk for me.

I think everyone needs to remember that if you’re sick in the car it’s the end of my night and you’ve cost me a huge amount in potential earnings. It’s a problem for everyone.

Aslam would rather you didn't puke in here

Aslam would rather you didn’t puke in here

Please don’t shag in the backseat, please

This is a passenger car. It’s not a bedroom on wheels. It’s not happening in my car. When I worked for another company, one time, there was a young couple in my backseat. They were kissing a lot and then one thing lead to another.

I said: “Please, keep your hands off each other. We’re twenty minutes away and you’ll have plenty of time later.” They seemed embarrassed and they apologised.

Don’t ask your driver to go through a red light

People used to ask me to do this all the time but I’d never do it. You can’t ask a cabbie to go through a red light for you, it’s unfair and irresponsible. When it happens I switch off – I don’t listen. I don’t think any of us listen to requests like this.

It’s the same with asking us to “go faster” – how can I break the law like that? All cabbies keep their distance when asked stuff like this.

They don’t like it when six people pile into a four seater vehicle

If you book a four seater car and six of you turn up it’s not going to work. I drive a people carrier so I usually have enough seats, and if I have space for more I can get it cleared with control and get you in. It’s not something I really like, but then again, it’s extra money.

I wouldn’t do this in my own personal car – if there wasn’t space for my baby, my baby wouldn’t be in the car. If I don’t do it for myself I’m not going to do it for you.

Get the bangers going on Kiss – but not for too long

Music can be annoying. You ask for it and I play it. Sometimes people want it very, very loud. It’s part of my job to let you listen to what you want and I accept it but I don’t always enjoy it.

My choice doesn’t matter. If the passenger wants music they want music. My ideal customer would ask for music though. Last night we had Kiss 100 – I enjoyed it – but once it was off I wasn’t upset.

Drivers love tips

I’m always happy to get tipped – no driver isn’t happy to receive them. If we give you a good service you should tip us.

This is what a perfect customer is like

I’m always happy to look after a nice passenger. That’s the most important thing: be nice. We always want to help a good, nice, polite passenger – that’s where a good relationship comes from.