“Roger Car 207” Celebrating Michael Tottenham’s 42 years of Professional Driving.
On the 14th of November back in 1975, Michael Tottenham took to the wheel of a Yellow Cab, when only a few hundred were in the fleet and, in a time when there was two way voice communication. Michael was quick to remember his car number and call: “Roger Car 207″.
When we heard about Michael’s retirement announcement, we were quick to share a morning tea with him to celebrate his achievements during this time and, to gain some insight into his professional driving career.
Prior to Michael’s time driving a Yellow Cab he had spent many years working in an office for Telecom (Telstra) and remembers saying to himself at the time “I want to see how the outside world worked”.
Q: So why Yellow Cabs?
A: “My brother drove for Yellow and it was just something that I guess I followed suit. I was paying off a mortgage and didn’t want to have the same struggles my family did so I took on weekend work and then moved to full time driving. Now that I am reaching retirement I don’t really need to work anymore”.
Michael reminisced about first meeting Bill Parker, now General Manager of Yellow Cabs, “back when he was just a young office lad”, then graciously said “hope he doesn’t mind me saying that”.
Q: What was your Best Fare and Why?
A: “The best job I ever did, was about ten years ago – it was a pick up from the Hilton … he was the Trade Commissioner of Singapore. He wanted to travel from Brisbane to Nambour – Nambour to Caloundra – Caloundra to Banyo – Banyo to Eagle Farm then back to the Hilton. I said I sure can do that, the fare was about $476″.
Q: What has been one of your more interesting times as a Driver?
A: ” I picked up a booked job from Sandgate and they were heading to the Airport, so I started to head to the Brisbane International Airport, only to hear the lady in the back seat arguing with her partner, then apologise to me as she re -checked her tickets and realised it was the wrong airport – they needed to be at the Gold Coast International Airport. They made it in time and everything was ok, but some of the Gold Coast drivers were a bit interested to see me there”.
Michael said he always welcomed Gold Coast trips. “I’ve driven nurses from Mater Hospital up to the Tweed Heads hospital, they are all great jobs”.
Another interesting time Michael shared with us was back in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen days. “I had this one job where I had to drop off three bags of party ice in to the Valley, so I picked them up from Ithaca Ice Works in Paddington, and drove them down to Wickham Street above Bubbles Bath House. I had to go up the very narrow front stairs, through two security gates and put the bags on a bar table and then was encouraged to leave. Les Bubbles was filled with illegal card tables, men with sunshade hats, a lot of men sitting around the round tables playing cards with their shades on heads down playing cards – it was a very quiet and smoke filled room”.
Q: What has been your greatest take away from customers?
A: “There are a lot of lonely people out there who enjoy a chat – they really delight in the welcome when you call them by their first name if you know it, or see it on the screen. It doesn’t take much to greet a person – just opening a door and just greeting them is always nice and welcomed”.
Q: Where to from here?
A: ” Spend time with the Family and I also enjoy Canoeing/Kayaking with the Sandgate Canoe Club and watching the AFL, other than the Lions, Carlton is my second team” Michael also took delight in telling us he is not going to miss driving in the city traffic ” Brisbane has changed so much it’s so busy with buildings, road closures and much more traffic than before. There are a lot more road rules than there was back in the 70’s”.
In closing our morning tea Michael said “In a nutshell, I am proud to be a Cabbie and proud to help and I have enjoyed being helpful and cheerful to our customers”.
Yellow Cabs has been honoured to work with someone so passionate, calm and professional all at the same time. It’s clear that Michael’ dedication to our customers has made a positive impact on our company, and the industry at large, from the great feedback we constantly get for him.
From all of the team at Yellow Cabs, thank you and we sincerely hope retirement brings you wonderful things. You will be greatly missed.