IT’S always so assuring to know that you have people in life to call when in a bind and that they will be there at the drop of a hat. Having different people who are there for you is certainly something that could leave your mind at ease.
This is the case with today’s FITC because it literally is his job to be there for you when you need him – well, at least when you need to get from point A to point B in comfort and ease.
Mr. Bye is a Vanard-born taxi driver, who has been providing his service for about 20 years.
It’s just as well that he chose this profession as the jovial and friendly taxi man says he loves nothing more than to interact with people and learning about them. Today, he talks about the job and why he is just the man to call to get you out of a transport jam (pun intended).
The VOICE: Why did you choose to become a taxi driver?
Mr. Bye: I was always interested in it and it was always on my mind to become one. I bought a minibus in 1999 and I had a 3B route band from Castries to Millet. That was my first bus and one day, I went to Pointe Seraphine there were not enough taxis. They asked me if I wanted to do a trip with the minibus. I said yes, and from that time, I’ve had an interest in taxi operating and I’ve been doing it ever since.
The VOICE: If you had to compare being a minibus driver and being a taxi driver, which one would you say is your better option as far as earning a living is concerned?
Mr. Bye: Taxi! To have a taxi is better. There is less strain on you and it’s more relaxing. The minibus goes up and down 24/7, so I’d rather be a taxi driver.
The VOICE: What are some of the perks and best aspects of being a taxi driver?
Mr. Bye: Getting to know the people because they would ask me whether I have been to the States, etc. I also get to know about them and their culture; that is what I like the most. Of course, there’s the money (laughs), the tips, etc. — that’s very important. So I love what I do and I believe I will do it until death as long as I have the strength and health to go on. That’s why I like it; you never have to retire.
The VOICE: While there are perks, I’m sure there are also pitfalls to the job. What are the biggest issues you face on the job?
Mr. Bye: Everything that you do will have good and bad sides with good and bad people. But my gripe is there are some people who would ask you certain things and they know the response already. But they want to test you to see if you know what you’re about. It has happened to me many times. But, overall, any bad that has happened to me has been so minor that I can’t remember. It’s all trivial. I try my best to be a professional at what I do and I attended the seminars and all. So I know how to handle myself.
The VOICE: What does it take to be a true professional at this kind of job?
Mr. Bye: You need to love your job. Like I said, I attended the seminars and I learned about my country. You need to know what to say and what not to say. It’s a matter of knowing what you’re doing and if you know what to do and you do it well, you will enjoy it and won’t be there like a fool for people to turn you around. You need your qualifications so that you can be great.
The VOICE: Between a minibus and a taxi driver, which one has the most expenses and stresses to deal with?
Mr. Bye: Oh, minibus drivers! The parts on the minibus damage faster, the children try to take you for pappyshow, the grownups as well. It’s more challenging being a minibus driver than a taxi driver. As a taxi driver, you get to call the shots.
The VOICE: With every job comes bad apples and there are some taxi drivers who cheat and overcharge customers. What do you have to say about that?
Mr. Bye: We have to be careful how we help people. We will do certain jobs where there is no set price, where we have to take some customers different places and make different stops, and we have to make a price. But it has to be reasonable. I heard that in the foreign countries there are meters running all the time. Down here, it’s not like that. But I would suggest that customers be advised beforehand how much they will be charged.
The VOICE: Are you happy with the current fixed rates?
Mr. Bye: With the present situation, it’s good.
The VOICE: If you could make a change, would you keep fixed prices or go with meters?
Mr. Bye: I would like to go with the meters and, you know, you can do your thing. But you can’t blame me; you can only blame yourself and your timing. So I would choose meters.
The VOICE: If someone owns a vehicle, they’re a good driver and they’re interested in becoming a taxi driver, what advice would you give them to help them get started?
Mr. Bye: They would be welcomed. They are needed, so anybody who wants to become a taxi driver, understand what you are coming into. Try to learn the procedures, take the courses, ask questions and read books about how to deal with people. There is quite a bit to learn. You can’t just buy a vehicle and be a taxi driver because you will find yourself in problems. You need to have self-control and learn how to talk to and relate to people.