I've been to London a few times in the last month.
I've been for business purposes, hypermobility awareness stuff, and HMSA and Pain UK charity work.
It's been fun, rewarding, challenging, useful.
There's just been one fly in the ointment.
The ones at taxi ranks are fine. Well....ok. I mean, there were several drivers who looked distressed-ly at my wheels saying their ramp was broken - to which I replied that I can get myself in if they'll lift the wheels. Or occasionally they've suggested I go to another waiting taxi which is more easy to access.
Hmmm. Reading it back, that's not a very cheerful definition of fine. But they'd at least stopped and given me a chance.
Because trying to hail a cab out on the street is depressing. I have seen drivers scanning the pavements for custom, 'available' light shining, only to suffer instant tunnel vision and a fixation on the road ahead the instant my arm is raised.
Or the light goes off the instant I am within sight. I've even had them slow down within feet of me only to drive off again without stopping. Possibly when they realised I was one of the party.
I accept: wheels are an inconvenient fare to pick up - it takes longer to get the ramp out and time is money. But guess what? It's inconvenient for me too. I have to have that longer process every single time I ever use a taxi. Every Single Time. And you are seriously telling me that the inconvenience of picking up a wheelchair user just this once is too much?
And the fact that I know I can hop quickly into a taxi if the driver will just nip round and lift my wheels in just makes it even more frustrating.
I did find 3 solutions though:
Option 1: hide round a corner while a friend hails the Taxi (thank you Donna) and only appear once it has stopped. (moderate success)
Option 2: cross the road at traffic lights immediately in front of an available taxi. When immediately ahead of the vehicle, turn and make eyecontact, then hail his taxi. Totally unsubtle and kinda difficult to pretend he didn't notice. (success - but requires vacant taxi at the front of the queue.)
Option 3: enlist the help of an armed police officer. (Perfect. If you have one handy.)
Option 3 is definitely my favourite. The satisfaction of knowing that the person hailing a taxi on my behalf is one who no-one wants to annoy.
But really, truly, what I would really like is not to need strategies and cunning plans. I just want to hail a taxi like everyone else.