“-Cosmo,call me a cab! – Ok, you’re a cab.” (Singing In The Rain)

My many readers (I wish) will know by now I like to travel, moan a bit and more importantly I like my freedom. Now it may not be so obvious I am a control freak – I am and and unless travel is involved I will manage to suppress it.

Sometimes this makes travel a bit stressful, which I don’t like and careful planning combined with turning up early to catch trains, plans and such will make things run smoothly.

A while I ago I went to Manchester to see a artist called Regina Spektor, it was a great gig (review) and I spent a little time in Manchester city centre enjoying china town, the Christmas markets, local shops and one of the best second hand record shops I’ve been too (Vinyl Exchange).

After doing similar to see another band a couple of months before and getting stuck in a huge M62 traffic jam for hours and wanting to stay in a more central hotel I decided to plumb for the train – I love travelling by train so It seemed like a perfect plan. The day before departure I booked my taxi for 09:00, giving me much more than the suggested 30 minutes to get to the station, even at that time of day it would be easy. Even when the taxi was not there at 09:00 I wasn’t too concerned, I still had plenty of time. Normally I wouldn’t be too bothered about missing a train, but I had booked a seat, I had to get this set train (I will not do this again, the few pounds it saved me was in heinsight a bad idea).

Finally, after a couple of phone calls and panic rising, the taxi arrived at 09:17 – no if I’d listened to the taxi office I would now have 13 minutes to get across 3,6 miles of rush hour traffic dodging bus lanes, the end of rush hour and the school run. Google Maps puts the journey time at 17 or 19 minutes, depending on the route – at best I would miss the train. Thankfully I’d ignored advice, but still, 28 minutes, I was worried. I had driven to a place near the station a few days before and it took 15 minutes on a quiet Saturday afternoon.

This is the problem… I had planned everything, booked carefully and considered all my options, then given control of a key part of my journey to another. Now a serious road accident or similar unexpected event I would have been unhappy, but if the taxi had been on time, or even a little late it would have come down to one of those things and and put up with the problem, but this was not the case.

The guy who had answered the phone didn’t care, he has no steak in the success of my journey, neither did the dispatcher that morning. However true these facts may be its a poor state of affairs when people take no little or no pride in their jobs.

The driver was apologetic, expecting a very unhappy customer and potentially (completely unwarranted)  abuse. Here is a tip – front line staff are rarely to blame for many problems that they have to deal with, be nice to them, its not their fault and possibly more importantly they are usually the only ones who can help you! I sided with the driver and his excellent knowledge of back roads and traffic got me across town to the station in 16 minutes, very impressive, but still a little close to the bone for me. After getting into the station, getting though the ticket barriers and finding my platform I had a few minutes before the train arrived.

Take from this what you will, but I hope you will take the following – 1) Leave loads of time for taxis, 2) try to book open tickets and 3) Don’t blame the front line staff.