Sunday, 17 July 2011

You'll be finished by lunchtime...

I fall for it every time, the phone goes off on a Friday night and there's a lovely easy little number waiting for me on Saturday, nice bit of overtime and you'll be finished by lunchtime.
Of course it involved a 4am start and i had to be at the shop in Portsmouth for 07.15, but at least the lorry was loaded and the only other drop was at 08.30 in Chichester. Easy peasy, go back the pretty way up the A286 and i should be back at the yard in Enfield by - yes! - about lunchtime. What could possibly go wrong?
By the time i got up to Guildford on the A3 my 4 1/2 hours driving time were about up and i pulled into the BP services to take a break. So, there i am with 45 minutes to kill, may as well put the paperwork in order. And this is where the inexorable downhill slide begins. Lurking at the bottom of the manifest sheet is a little note i'd not previously noticed - 'Wembly DC, collect load for Chelmsford store, leave on van'. Ok, not a total disaster, Wembly's not that far from Enfield, with a bit of luck i should still be done just after lunch and the rest of the day is mine. Nice!
I should have remembered, there are two kinds of luck...
There was a fair bit of Saturday shopping traffic to carve my way through but i still managed to get up to the DC by about 12.30. The place was deserted. After about half an hour's worth of ringing the bell and shouting i managed to attract the attention of a passing warehouse chimp. The last tattered remnants of my early finish were about to disappear down the toilet.
'Oh yes, just pull on to bay eight. Your lot usually collect at 6pm during the week but it's ok, on saturdays we have it ready early'
'oh good, i'll open the back up then'
'Oh i wouldn't bother doing that yet, it's raining and the floor will get wet. Go and wait in the canteen and i'll give you a shout when we're ready to load'
In my head, little alarm bells were starting to ring.
'Ok, when are you likely to be ready?'
'Oh it's all picked early on a Saturday, if you're lucky and nothing else comes in we should get started by about...'
'Yes, yes?'
'Oh, three o'clock if all goes well'

(Insert expletives and the faint sounds of a grown man sobbing quietly to himself)

To add insult to injury, when i did eventually get back to Enfield the light was absolutely stunning, the power station at Brimsdown was lit up in a beam of brilliant sunlight against a brooding slate grey backdrop of cloud and rain. It was just begging for a picture. The week before i took my camera with me and it pissed down, all i got was rain on the windscreen, so this week i didn't bother and left it at home.

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