Taxi Noir; Surviving the Aftermath
Indications are that a hard rain’s gonna fall this summer: recession, redundancy, and businesses going bankrupt. We’ve been here before though. The media have compared the current crisis to other spikes, such as during the two world wars, the depression of the 1930s, and the recessions of 1990 and 2008. Things were undoubtedly bad during these periods, but we came out of it.
Until March I was a London taxi driver: I was intending to leave the trade anyway; the current crisis merely hastened my departure. I hadn’t had my taxi licence long when the recession of 1990 started. It was a depressing time, but it didn’t last. The cab trade strengthened, along with society as a whole. From 2000 to 2010 I was out of the trade working as a careers adviser so I missed the delights of the 2008 recession. When I returned in 2010 all seemed normal. It wasn’t like it was in 1988 but I was satisfied with my income level.
The London taxi trade has survived for over 350 years. It’s gradually grown to number over 22,000 souls, so we must be doing something right. We have adapted to survive. The customers have always returned eventually, and I expect they will return this time too.
When the virus started, I’d sit on the rank at Goldman Sachs in the City worrying that many workers wouldn’t be returning; that home working was the way forward. To an extent, possibly; but the lockdown has shown many of us that we need contact with others. Many people who have stayed at home on 80% of their normal wages have found that it’s both costly and boring working from home. People would have been using their own paper and printer ink for the personal activities they could normally do in the office. They’d have to pay for their own tea and coffee. And probably entertain themselves with on-line shopping. In my personal experience, house arrest eats up a lot of DVD boxed sets. If they ever re-make Only Fools and Horses I’d easily be able to understudy David Jason. I wonder if Julian Assange had an Amazon account when he was living in the Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years?
By the summer, many people would have been fed up working from home. It’s likely that folk will be out on a spending spree when this is all over. Everyone seems to be talking about the pub crawls they’re going to go on. I’ll certainly be having my own on the High Street when the all clear is sounded.
This is just speculation of course. None of knows what’s going to happen in the coming months. The experts don’t even know what’s going to happen, and I’m no expert. I’m forming opinions based on what I read and see on the TV.
The nation has certainly become a bit more unified during the lockdown though. Local residents and businesses are all in it together. We’ve kept our sense of humour and sense of fair play, and we’re all pulling in the same direction. I’ve been in contact with old friends who I could never find the time to speak to, and I’ve made new contacts on a variety of social media sites.
Watching the BBC News I learned that some businesses are doing well. Farmers are run off their feet producing milk to deliver to folk stuck at home. Warehouses and delivery drivers appear to be working at full tilt. Fair play to them. When the crisis is over some businesses would have folded, while others would have been boosted by an increase in trade. I believe people can’t wait to start getting out again, so if delivering packages is a boom industry, perhaps delivering people will be too?