Henk Peek has been working as a driver in the taxi industry for a quarter of a century, bringing people to the right place of destination. After first working in the retail trade, he gave his heart to the profession of taxi driver. The freedom and social contact particularly appeal to him. Unfortunately Henk was confronted with cancer last year. In an extensive conversation with TaxiPro, he discusses life with cancer, positivity and his love for the profession. “I love the freedom I experience in the taxi.”

Henk Peek has been in the taxi industry for over a quarter of a century. As a driver he has driven for various employers. Before that, Peek was active in retail. For example, he had his own supermarket for more than twelve years, but this was subsequently snowed under by the chain store. Henk therefore decided to pull the plug on his company himself. “I then ended up on welfare. If you have worked as an employee, you can still use unemployment benefits. But if you, as a self-employed person, have nothing up your sleeve, you will soon have to rely on social assistance.”

The assistance was anything but a fat pot. The helm had to change quickly. A lady who accompanied Henk on his way to new work quickly arranged a job for him at the Gelderse Taxicentrale as a driver. “I was there for eight years”, says the 2022-year-old taxi driver about that period. After wandering around with, among others, Noot Personenvervoer and Willemsende Koning, he eventually ended up at Van Driel. “I have been working there for about five years now. However, I am now retired, so I now only drive six hours a day for three days a week.”

Chemo pills “That has to do with the fact that I was confronted with cancer last year,” says Henk. “It was a rough period. In total I was out of circulation for about eight months. At the time, I received a lot of support from my colleagues and from the management of Van Driel. Partly because of this I was able to struggle through that difficult period.”

“Unfortunately, however, I can no longer be cured”, Henk continues. “I live on chemo pills and in mid-November I start my immunotherapy. Despite all this, I feel good about myself. This illness does not prevent me from doing my work three days a week, for a total of eighteen hours.”

I am just a chunk of positivity

Henk does realize that sooner or later he will have to say goodbye to the profession he loves so much. “If it really gets too tiring for me, if I’m completely exhausted in the evening, then it’s time to protect myself. Then I just have to stop. That is of course not a nice thought, but fortunately it is not that far yet. I don’t know how long it will be before the moment arrives, but I hope I’m given a few more years.”

The passionate taxi driver, however, refuses to sit down . “Optimist in the coffin, that is my life motto”, he says about it. “I enjoy every day. It doesn’t matter to me whether the weather is good or bad. I’m just a chunk of positivity.”

Social contact Despite his illness, Henk continues to work as a taxi driver. He does this because he says he has pledged his heart to the profession of taxi driver. Especially the freedom and the social aspect that come with the profession, appeal to him enormously. “Despite being an employee, you are still independent. You are in charge of your own vehicle. I love the freedom I experience in the taxi.”

In addition, Henk likes to chat with the people who get into his taxi. Although he honestly admits that not every story stays with him, there are still a number of stories that he will not forget for the rest of his life. “Last week I picked up a 24-year-old man named Marino van Liempt. He had to go to the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen for radiation. He also turned out to have cancer. While talking we found out that we deal with this disease in the same way, namely with a lot of positivity. “It’s like looking in the mirror,” Marino said. We had a lot in common.”

All those concessions, don’t always jump off the branch with them. In the end you won’t get anywhere with that

“We both love music”, explains Henk further. “I passive, Marino active. He used to play in several bands. At one point I told him which songs I would play during my cremation. One is My Way by Frank Sinatra. I then asked him if he could make a compilation of that song with Frank Sinatra, Herman Brood and Jan Rot. Last Thursday he sent me that compilation. Goosebumps, so incredibly beautiful.”

“The conversations we had with each other made a deep impression on me”, Henk continues. “I then wrote a poem for and about him. After all, those conversations also showed that we both love to write poetry. That gave him goosebumps again. “You will bring me the second ray of sunshine today,” he said to me. indescribable. You will never forget moments like that for the rest of your life.”

Liberalization Despite all the beautiful moments Henk has experienced as a taxi driver, he also sees the lesser sides of the world in which he works. For example, the 2022-year-old taxi driver has changed the industry in the past 24 year has also seen a significant change. Liberalization, in particular, is particularly repugnant to him. “Then it went the wrong way. Just look at Amsterdam, for example. There are still a lot of snorders active there. In fact, the profession has simply been screwed up. In addition, during tenders too much attention is paid to price, instead of quality. That’s just very unfortunate. All those concessions, do not always jump from one to the other. In the end you gain nothing. Those are the things I would like to see changed, especially for all my colleagues.”

Yet Henk refuses to dwell in negativity. He hates that. He characterizes himself as a positive man. “I do everything with passion. I don’t buy anything for negativity,” he says. Nevertheless, the 2022-year-old taxi driver hopes for one thing: that the unions and employers quickly reach an agreement on a new collective labor agreement for healthcare transport and taxi. “I would be really sad if that didn’t work out. That would mean we won’t get a pay rise. Or at least a lot less. That doesn’t matter much to me, but it does to my colleagues. I would be very sorry if they didn’t get anything.”

Breaking a lance Yet Henk also knows that the employers don’t have it easy. That is why, finally, he wants to break a lance for Van Driel, his current employer where he is enjoying himself so much. “Just stand on it. First corona, then the high fuel prices and now the increased electricity costs for the electric vehicle fleet and above all the shortage of personnel at all levels. Respect for the fact that they try every day with the entire staff to meet the wishes of all their clients and take responsibility for all employees”, concludes Henk.

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