Many people think of taxi as simply a service that gets them where they need to go. In the 50 years that we have been in business, our drivers and staff have experienced first-hand that taking care of passengers often goes above and beyond the transportation itself. The experiences that happen – beyond the ride – are colourful, poignant, and sometimes life altering. With the help of an artistic and insightful summer student, we bring some of these moments to light.
More than just getting customers from Point A to Point B, Beyond the Ride is about telling the stories and exposing the realities and the extra mile we go to take care of our customers. Real stories. Passionate contributions. Thank you to all of our drivers, staff, and our student Kelvin, for the making of Beyond the Ride. And to our readers, enjoy this six week series!
The Scenic Route
It was around noon when our driver picked up a woman that was headed to her friend’s house. Right away, the driver noticed that she was visually impaired. The woman got in the taxi with her probing cane and made a surprising request for her drive. She asked, “Can you please take the scenic route?”
Our driver, a bit confused, asked her why. “It’s a beautiful day. It would be nice if you could describe the view as we drive down the streets,” she responded. On that ride, he told her about the dogs on the sidewalk, the busy ice cream truck parked by the playground, and all the new additions to the city.
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. It was a ride that he would never forget.
The Last Goodbye
Several months ago, our dispatcher received a call from the Joseph Brant Hospital. On the phone was a doctor, hoping to get a taxi. He explained to her that a patient was dying; his wife is disabled and had no way of getting to the hospital. As fast as he could, our driver borrowed a wheelchair from the hospital and picked up the patient’s wife.
On the ride, she told the driver that the couple had been married for 65 years and that her husband has been seriously ill for some time. “She was very upset.” The driver walked her in to the hospital reception and waited until she was received by the doctor.
About an hour later, the same driver picked her up from the hospital. She told him that her husband had died in her arms just a few minutes ago, and that he was in a better place now.
Before departing, our driver wished her all the best and she thanked him and gave him a big hug.
It was 2:00am when our dispatcher received a call from a young girl. She wanted a taxi from a local nightclub to her home in Barrie. She told the dispatcher that she was supposed to go home with her friends, but they had left her stranded at the club without any sort of money.
A trip to Barrie is around 2 hours and costs approximately 400$. Without any guaranteed or upfront payment, the dispatcher was hesitant on whether or not to accept the trip.
One of our drivers overheard the situation and said these words to the dispatcher, “I will take a chance if you want, if she doesn’t end up paying, I guess I can pull the money out of my wallet.”
He drove the girl home safely and was later paid by her father.
It was the Civic Holiday in August a few years ago. The day was warm, sunny, and quiet. Our driver picked up a fare at New Street. The man who called the cab was leaving from his mother’s nursing home. He was frail, grey haired, and no more than 5”2. The man seemed to be a bit lost, so our driver helped him into the van. He didn’t speak at all, not until the driver asked him where he wanted to go for the second time. “Take me to an overpass on the QEW,” the man answered.
“What!?” our driver replied in shock and confusion. The man told our driver that he wanted to jump off the bridge and into the traffic, instructing him to drop him off where the barriers weren’t too high, so he could climb over easily. The conversation was followed by an intense silence.
Our driver drove him around wondering how to handle the situation. After a series of questions and concerns, the man finally opened up. He explained that he had all kinds of pain and nothing was helping, not even the medications prescribed by his doctors.
That was when our driver decided to pull over. “We parked at the Longo’s plaza on Fairview, and I knew I could not help this vulnerable man on my own. I told him with as much compassion as I could that I cannot allow you to take your life. Not on my watch,” our driver described to me.
He then called the police for support, who soon accompanied the man to Joseph Brant Hospital.
They met again 6 months later. Although the man didn’t seem to recognize our driver, our driver was happy to see the man’s choice to live on.
On April 14th, much of Southern Ontario was hit by a winter storm creating dangerous conditions, closures, and travel delays. The city of Burlington suffered from freezing rain, ice pallets, and high winds.
Taxi services in surrounding areas such as Oakville and Hamilton have closed down for the day, but Burlington Taxi kept on with our busy schedule to ensure no customers are stranded.
On an icy and treacherous morning, one of our drivers fell ill and needed a shift replacement. One of our retired dispatchers volunteered for the job at a moment’s notice. She came in and drove for the entire day even though she is the primary care giver of a sick family member, requiring 24 hour care.
.Later, she explained that after working with Burlington Taxi for almost 40 years, she couldn’t bear leaving the locals shelter-less in such weather conditions.
Let’s travel 3 years into the past. It was 4 in the afternoon and our driver was at the front door of the customer’s apartment. The driver gave the customer a call, and was told that he was on his way down and would be wearing a black t- shirt. However, when he came out, he was wearing things that were a lot more interesting.
There was tin foil wrapped around both of his wrists, high socks going up his legs, and many little accessories attached from head to toe. Before our driver could ask, the man claimed that he was indeed, from the “future.”
On the ride, he made predictions on the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, and even the stock market. As our driver joined in on his prank, he moved on to talk about futuristic taxis. He claimed no taxis will have drivers in the future, and all cars will also be able to fly!
Before saying goodbye, our driver had to convince the time traveler to pay him the fare in the third dimension. “It was all laughs and jokes.”