Helping someone stuck on the toilet is not something you would consider to be part of a taxi driver’s job description.
But this is something Bill Lowe has encountered during his 18 years with Southern Highlands Taxis.
Bill first started driving taxis because it allowed him to work at night while he cared for his sick parents during the day.
“They passed on and I just kept driving.”
Born and bred in the Highlands, Bill has been a part of the community all his life.
He drives a wheelchair accessible vehicle and has done so since they were first introduced at the company.
Back then they had an old English taxi cab with ramps on the side.
Drivers had to push the wheelchairs up into the car.
Now with motorised wheelchairs and wheelchair lifts, Bill said it was much easier to get their clients into the car.
Over the years Bill has had plenty of memorable trips- including the toilet trip.
There was a man who lived at Woodlands and Bill used to pick up his wife from The Abbey and drop her off for visits.
“We received a call during the afternoon, could I go back and see them. His wife went to the toilet and got stuck and couldn’t get off. I had a go at picking her up and getting her off the toilet.”
And then there was the time a passenger got up out of his wheelchair half way through the trip.
It was a regular customer who Bill often picked up from the high dependency unit of Bowral Hospital and drove to Moss Vale Services Club with a carer.
One particular trip, there was no carer.
“We got halfway across from Moss Vale and he got out of the wheelchair. He weighed about 22/23 stone and he started coming towards me. I had to ring up the base and they rung up Accident and Emergency. When he got out of the wheelchair he fell flat down.
“They had to get the staff to lift him up and put him back. It took abut five people just to pick him up and put him in.”
Earlier this year a regular customer passed away and left $10,000 to be shared between the drivers who had helped him during his interactions with the company.
Bill was one of these drivers.
There’s also been some famous fares including John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Mark Taylor, Billy Birmingham, Tony Lockett, Geoff Harvey and Graham Kennedy.
Bill has been with the company since it first started and worked for the previous owner before Laurie Stewart bought the company.
“You meet some really wonderful people out there. And that’s one of the biggest things about driving taxis,” Laurie said.
“The vast majority of people we carry are nice people and you can have a chat and there’s mutual respect.”