Grumpy! That’s a Laugh

London’s taxi drivers have in the past been identified as the country’s grumpiest workers.

A survey found that traffic jams, the rising cost of petrol and drunken passengers meant that cabbies rarely managed a chortle all day.

In fact, just 0.4 per cent of taxi drivers said they laughed regularly through their working day and those individuals, of course, have had their licenses revoked.

[L]IVE IN A BIG CITY, and drive a black cab every day, you will soon see why we are morose. From grumpy fellow road users, fanciful detours, to passengers who seem to have left their brain at home that day, driving a cab through the congested heart of a major city can easily become the most irritating of occupations.

Another recent survey of cab users shows that people still judge London cabbies to be the best in the world albeit miserable, but rate Parisian chauffeurs, commonly excoriated for their rudeness, above their counterparts in Berlin, Sydney and Las Vegas. Just how bad must they be in Berlin?

While the Discovery Channel after spending eight months travelling across Britain seeking out the trickiest jobs reported a few years ago that London’s black cab drivers have the most dangerous job in Britain. How exactly you classify driving a black cab as more dangerous than risking your life every day, chained to the deck of a North Sea trawler, working on a North Sea oil rig, being a lumberjack and having trees fall on your head or demolishing an asbestos-filled building defeats me.

An Oxford University study said fishermen are 50 times more likely to die at work than any other profession. So based on these facts, how does deep sea fishing in raging seas slip into second place behind driving a comfortable vehicle while listening to Robert Elms on London Radio while saving to purchase your holiday home on Tuscany?

Well here’s my theory. The report ranked each job on the likelihood of serious injury, skill level, working hours plus mental and physical stress. For black cab drivers, these occupational hazards come from the general public whose wrath has been incurred by delays caused by roadworks, drivers giving their unsolicited opinions and Gordon Brown.

So perhaps this survey has it right. So next time you use the services of a Black London Cabbie spare a thought of our occupational risks.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 10th July 2009

4 thoughts on “Grumpy! That’s a Laugh”

  1. First off I wouldn’t go within a 100 yards of an Uber Cab let alone get in one. When I am in London if I use a taxi it’s a black cab. I would rather pay 25% more, if that is what it is [I live in the USA.] & I always tip 20% to cab drivers. In July looking for the Uni of London Marylebone Building from Baker Street Station I gave up walking around & hailed a black cab. I knew it was a short journey even though I couldn’t find the frigging place on-foot. The cab driver was brilliant even though he would only make a ‘few bob’ so I gave him 20 quid for a £6 fare. About the only annoying thing about black cab drivers in London is their ‘up against the wall interrogation of you’ if you are heading to Paddington Station as they assume that you are going to Heathrow on the Heathrow Express & they want to take you all the way. Finally the worst place for cabbies in Britain must be the queue of taxis at Bradford [Yorkshire] Station. I have never seen so many cabs in a line waiting for a fare. The queue must stretch all the way to Leeds. Hardly surprising if you wait 60 mins. for a £5 fare you are not a happy cab driver.


    1. Hi Gregg and thanks for supporting Black Cabs we certainly need that these days. This post was written nearly 10 years ago and when I re-read it I was surprised at how much had changed in such a short time, hopefully we have a few years left before we’re drowned in Ubers. The signs aren’t good, only 700 are currently on The Knowledge which equates to about 210 licences issued, not enough to make up for those leaving.


  2. If it’s any consolation re ‘only 700’ on the ‘Knowledge’, Ireland is running out of Catholic priests. Hardly any guys are ‘training’ to be Catholic priests nowadays. Within 15 years there won’t be a Catholic priest in Ireland unless they’re offered a free pint of Guinness for every Mass conducted. I suppose it all means that times are changing which happens all the time of course.


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