Listen up cabbies! I’m going to say this once. Here is the not-so-definitive list of things you need to know when you pick up a customer who is blind or partially-sighted.
- If you drive a radio cab, or if you get your calls through a computerized dispatch system, chances are that the customer will have specified that they are blind (they should ’cause they can’t expect you to guess). So, when you get to the pick-up location, do not sit in your car and expect the blind person to know that you have arrived. We are not physic. It is impossible to know if the nearby idling vehicle I hear is ‘my cab’ or just some other vehicle at this busy location (like a pimpmobile or a Fed Ex courier or a cab from the wrong company). You must get out of the car and identify yourself as the driver from XYZ cab company. If there is something wrong with your legs, attempt to crank open the window and announce yourself from the comfort of your car.
- Notice the guide dog with the person? They will have specified this too upon telephoning. Unless you have a medical certificate which exempts you from having a dog in your car (you would croak from the allergic reaction), then YOU MUST, BY LAW, ACCEPT THE DOG IN YOUR VEHICLE!!! THERE ARE REPERCUSSIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO REFUSE ACCESS TO GUIDE DOGS…AND FINES.
- Do not charge an ‘extra passenger’ or ‘baggage’ fee for transporting a guide dog (I have experience d this before). If you do so in Halifax, you could lose your taxi permit.
- If the person with the guide dog wants to sit in the front with their dog, do not freak out. It is my practice to do so, as recommended by the school where I received my dog. I know that other schools have differing philosophies, but this is what I choose. Notice (as you always do) when we get in, that there is actually much more room for the dog in the front between my legs…yes, even (especially) in those monster luxury cars… than in the back behind the seat. The big hump in the middle of the floor in the back is very constricting. Back seat? No way. If we crash, she will not go flying off a back seat, or be hurled to one side of the cab. It is more comfortable and safer for us both to sit in the front. this works for all cars, even the smallest. She is always well-behaved and will not touch you. (she may sneeze, though, ’cause your car is dusty)
- Do not think that because your passenger is blind, that you can travel the most indirect route to get to the destination (boosting the fare), ’cause most of us will notice that you have taken a side trip to Ecum Secum on the way to the corner of Barrington and Duke.
- I miss the old days. Taxi meters ticked back in the day. Now, there is no possible way to determine if the requested fare is what actually appears on the meter…however, do not get the idea that charging $17.50 for a one mile ride is something you can get away with.
- If your client has a charge slip, or you have a charge slip for them, and you want a signature, then think about how tricky that might be to sign. Me? I won’t sign one. “You sign it”, I say… (you could be asking me to sign up for donating a kidney for all I know)
- When you get to wherever the passenger wants to go, ask if they need assistance to get to the entrance of the building, or at the very least, give precise directions…”the is 5 meters straight ahead”. As I suggest to everyone, saying “over there” while pointing is useless (and a bit brainless and thoughtless)
- Alert your passenger if you are dropping them off in a puddle or ice patch. (I once stepped out of a cab, slipped on an icy patch, did a pirouette, landing on my knees, resulting in a bruise and torn jeans)