Dublin Airport – for the majority of vistors, their first taste of Ireland and the last thing they experience when leaving. Like most international airports, Dublin has a taxi rank where they can pull up and collect passengers. Such areas exist all over Ireland and it’s a straightforward concept – the taxis pull up into a queue – the first taxi in the queue gets the first passenger(s), and the next taxi takes the first position.
Taxi ranks are generally pretty self-policing – as a customer if you try to skip the queue you’ll get an earful from those waiting patiently, and most taxi drivers will tell you to feck off and queue up with everyone else. As a driver, trying to take a fare when not at the top of the rank will ensure your cards are clearly marked by your colleagues – yours and your children’s for twelve generations. Of course if you are in a group or have a disability and need a larger vehicle, you go to the first driver of that type, or wave the person behind you ahead with a cheery “we’re waiting for a people carrier, you fire ahead”.
It’s a simple system, however at Dublin Airport, there’s a person who controls the queue. I don’t quite know why (although anyone who’s been to Spain will know they’re not the best at queuing, I don’t think they would cause too much chaos if left unsupervised). Maybe it’s a health and safety issue – large crowds coming off several planes at the same time, and Dublin Airport Authority have someone there just to be on the safe side. That’s fair enough, I suppose, and over the years Irish people have generally grown accustomed these beleaguered individuals answering random questions in all weathers, pointing out the bus stops, explaining that no you can’t walk to the city centre etc, when all they want to do is guide people into the waiting taxis and get them to their ultimate destination.
Taxis – available?
However, on a recent trip from the airport, I noticed something decidedly odd. The top of the queue for passengers is set back from the top of the queue for taxis. That makes perfect sense – spread out the crowd and keep a bit of decorum – there’s even a nice shelter to stand under as you queue. On this occasion the first people to arrive at the top were two obvious tourists, laden down with heavy baggage, heading into some city centre hotel, one could reasonably assume. At the front of the taxi queue was a driver standing beside his open boot, waiting for his passengers.
Lo and behold, this tasty fare was directed to a car several back from the front of the rank – sent over to the Irish driver by the Irish queue controller – “you go with Peter there” was the phrase used. Unusual, eh? I was next, and when I approached Mr. Controller man, I was pointed straight to the car at the very front. I am (for my sins) obviously Irish and had no baggage. I may even have looked like every taxi driver’s nightmare – someone at the airport looking for a short journey. My suspicions raised, I glanced into the cars who had been skipped over for the first fare. It might not be PC to say it, but if you were a gambler you’d put your money on all of those drivers not being born on this fair isle.
Maybe this was just an isolated incident of someone giving a premium job to a friend who happened to be there. I hope that was all it was, but if there is something nastier going on it wouldn’t surprise me. That’s fierce Irish.