Taxi drivers were on snake alert over the weekend after a firm received a mystery call from an alleged passenger who claimed he had left a poisonous COBRA in the boot.
Station Taxis took the call in the early hours of Sunday morning (12) from a man saying he got into one of their taxis – but left a bag holding a venomous snake.
When the man, calling from a withheld number and claiming his name was Johnson, first rang, the taxi firm, understandably, thought it was a prank call.
However, when the man called back an hour later explaining he had been performing a snake show that evening and was worried about the potential dangers, the operators started to take it more seriously.
To be on the safe side the firm, based in Sunderland, in Tyne and Wear., sent out a message saying: “This is a real message – somebody has left a snake in a car. Please check.”
Speaking about the unusual call, Natalie Bland, the company’s marketing manager, said: “This was certainly one of our most weird and wonderful phone calls, as you’d expect we get odd inquires and pranks but this topped the lot.
“The first time we thought it was a prank and didn’t really think much of it to be honest.
“But he called back an hour later and no one was in the background like you’d expect from a prank call and he seemed deadly serious.
“The guy in question, who said he had booked a taxi under ‘Johnson’, said he had put a canvas bag in the boot.
“He asked us to find out who the driver was because it was really important, but stressed the driver had to be careful and wary when opening the boot.
“The operator asked why and he explained he had a cobra in the bag.
“At this point, our operator, said to him ‘Why would you have a cobra in a pub if you mind me asking?’ to which he explained he was ‘using it for a show’.
“Even though we still thought this could be a prank, we made sure we messaged the drivers on their dataheads just in case he was telling the truth.
“As you can imagine, some of the responses from drivers were hilarious and some even showed their passengers so everyone had a right laugh.
All the drivers found the incident hilarious with one replying saying, ‘are you taking the HISS?’.
Despite the whole fleet being thoroughly searched, the snake and bag in question were never found and the mystery caller has not called back.