7 Frustratingly Annoying Phrases You Hear In NI When Trying To Order A Taxi

In Northern Ireland there’s nothing more famous than the philosophical rantings of our beloved taxi drivers.

They are experts on everything, are up to date with all the latest current affairs and they know what madness is happening on the roads – such as weirdly placed bus lanes and reasons why 20 miles per hour in Belfast city centre is, in their words, a “totally daft idea” according to one of the drivers in my local firm.

And to be fair, he did have a classic example of “daftness”. He told me: “one of them Belfast bikes over-took me the other day when I was doing 20mph, I suppose that guy’s not gonna get done for speeding?” of course there was only one response I could give: “only in Belfast…”.

Thing is before we get the pleasure of our rush-hour philosophers we have to go through the nightmare…no, the trauma of extracting some sensible information from the taxi company desk clerk.

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If you don’t know what I mean, try these phrases on for size:

1. “It’s on the way”

I can’t help it, every time I hear this phrase when I call for a taxi my inside voice is screaming “but, where from?”. And on occasion I have actually said to them. This phrase gives me absolutely no information, in fact it leaves me in limbo with no intel on which to plan my dash to the door whilst grabbing my belongings.

2. “It’ll be with you shortly”

“Shortly” that inside voice screams. And I truly wonder, what time frame is it “shorter” than? Again, with no parameters by which to gauge my departure from the house – and busy people like me will understand that those few minutes are absolutely crucial.

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3. “It won’t be long”

You can see where I’m going here, can’t you? I want to ask: “what determines ‘long’ for you? Is it the distance between the telephone and the toilet or maybe the distance between the taxi firm and your house?”. Either way I don’t know either of these distances and therefore, surprise surprise have no idea what “won’t be long” means.

4. “It’s the next car out”

Just out of curiosity “out of where?”. This phrase winds me up the most because it tells me two things. Firstly, that there is no car available for me and secondly, I’m at the mercy of some other passenger who, may be like me and are adding extra stops on to their journey meaning my precision timing is out the window once again.

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5. “I’ll send one to you now”

With my local depot I made an assumption that this means from the door of the depot, which isn’t that far away. So usually I’m happy with this. However, when you hear this phrase from one of the bigger firms – cue explosion and an exasperated “where from?”. I get it that the car is probably “in the zone” but that’s no comfort.

6. “Five minutes”

Will it honestly be five minutes? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes? I highly doubt it and I know it’s very unlikely, yet when I hear this I think positive, happy thoughts…that is until I’m standing at the door of my house having said goodbye to a 3-year-old for the fourth time, 15 minutes later…

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7. “As soon as I can”

It’s the same old story. I want to ask “what’s holding you back?” or “what on earth does that mean?” but I don’t. In typical Northern Ireland style I reply “no problem, thank you” and I hang up. Seconds later I descend into a rant about taxi companies not being able to give any real information.

What’s more interesting about this whole thing is, having worked in two different taxi depots 20 years ago, and been quite good at my job (big “hi” to all the City Cab drivers) I know that it is totally impossible to give an accurate description of time. I know that all you can do is make an estimate based on your own personal expertise in the area. And yet, every time I hear one of these phrases I recoil in horror and moan about it.

Maybe it’s time to give our desk clerks a break?

About the Author

Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.