Archive for May, 2009

Damn the DSA and all who sail on her!

Balls! Failed again. Happily I thrive on despair and disappointment.

The worst thing is; both of the incidents that lead to the fail were avoidable. One of them was trying to steer around one of those painted white traffic islands (in a truck they are usually impossible, you make a token effort to show you’ve seen it then run it over anyway) which meant I mounted a pavement. The other incident was two fails in one, I came up to a set of traffic lights. At the lights the road split in a Y with a little dividing island between the diverging lanes. As I approached I saw the left turn was going to be tight and considered taking the right lane as well. That had a line of traffic in it so I thought, what the hell, I can make it. Which left me an almost impossibly tight turn. So I was inching forward, getting as close as I possibly could to the dividing island, then looking back to check I was going to clear the pavement with my trailer. Inch forward, check front and mirrors, inch forward, "STOP!"

The bastard lights had changed to red!

D’oh!

Then, when I set off, because of the position I’d left myself in, I nearly took out a railing.

In the de-brief the examiner said, apart from running the lights, everything was down to approaching each situation too fast. If I’d have slowed down and given myself time to think…

Still, those are (another) two mistakes I’ll never make again and I can learn from my mistakes, I should be running out of mistakes to make soon!

Ho hum, tired Bucky.

Later,

Buck.

🙁

I knew it!

Hi. It’s official, finally. We are being kicked out of our department.

They finally came clean today. Perhaps it’s due to the tactics of industrial action/ sabotage we have been unofficially employing.

We let the whole department go to shit. You could barely move for the pallets and rubbish. We slowed down to a walking pace (we had de-kitted seven trailers by breakfast one morning, where we normally have been looking at around twenty) so they were forced to send senior management to oversee every shift (we were abusing the junior management). Then we stood back and let the management try and run it, when they had no idea how it all operates. Finally on Saturday the shift manager for the whole site came up and told us we were desperate for sixty trailers and I laughed. She said "You used to be able to do that many" I replied "That was before we were getting kicked out of our jobs."

She denied all knowledge, as have all the managers I’ve been challenging about it, but I think the message finally got home.

Today they started taking us in, one by one, to be officially informed. I was the first of the lads to be taken in. So to speak (I wasn’t taken in for a second!)

The  2IC (second in command) for the whole site sat and gave me a five minute waffle about how they needed to outsource to specialist recycling operatives to ensure full separation of the de-kitted materials in an hours relevant manner.

Which translate as: they want to give our jobs to Eastern European agency workers. Reading between the yuppie-ese jargon, they want them to come in, magically separate the card, poly, and crap (when half of the time it arrives in huge cardboard containers, so you can’t see in it until you’ve tipped it into the baler, the top layer by which you judge it’s contents often being camouflage for the crap contained beneath) then as soon as they have finished all the trailers send them home.

Even if this wasn’t unscrupulous, callous, and exploitative, it is still wrong. We take three shifts to keep up with the workload, and I’m here to tell you it is graft! That is twenty four hours a day, except for Weekend nights. If they are trying to run it on less men then we employ, they simply won’t get the job done. They can’t save on the wages bill therefore, and every other department will suffer the knock on effect.

So hardy-har-har (he says, maturely).

The good news is if that talk today is to be believed, they will let us choose our department upon leaving de-kit.

So I don’t have to return to the dreaded freezer.

Huge silver lining.

However, that muppet today is not to be believed wholesale. He asked if there was anything I would like to say (at the end of his self-important waffle) and I told him, for future reference, if he’d have told us all this in January instead of flatly denying it, he could have saved a lot of bad feeling. He was bullshitting about how they hadn’t known, there were no plans in January, etc. And yet we’d heard, and it is transpiring as predicted.

Still I have some cause for hope now. I have been desperately looking for any job I could get to keep me out of the freezer. If I am to return to ambient as a picker it could be a good thing for me. I used to make quite a bit in overtime when I was in there. It is far too hard graft in de-kit to contemplate any extra, and the freezer was too painful and miserable to even think of overtime.

It would be quite tolerable while I complete my driving training and worm my way into getting a driving job at ours, which was plan A.

Anyway, that’s about it.

Later,

Buck.

Happy Bucky

Just a quick one, but even though I failed my driving test again I have turned that frown upside down.

I have, for the last few months if truth be told, letting my martial arts slide. I had to give the Kung Fu up through lack of cash, then with all the excuse making I had been wagging it more and more from Taekwondo.

Tonight was make or break really. In the car there I was rationalising my waning commitment; I have all the driving to do, I started doing it to regain my sanity, and I’m now as sane as I get, I’m losing interest,etc.

Then I got to the class and they were doing the "hello stranger" routine, and I felt like a newbie again. But then we got down to the nitty-gritty of the kicking of arse, and woo-hoo! What a buzz!

With all the prevarication and disingenuous self-deluding laziness, I’d forgotten the reason I was sweating and hurting before: because it feels so damn good!

I am buzzing off it.

Also there is the fact that I was training with people over half the way to black belt, and half of my kicks are better than theirs!

Yes indeedy, let’s not discount that sinful little pleasure.

I am writing this down whilst I am still buzzing so that next week, when the inertia has set in again and I don’t want to move, telling myself it would be easier to quit, I can read this and remember that I go because I love it!

Right off to trough.

Buck.

Thundering forward…

Thundering forward

Unstoppable momentum,

Another driving test.

My first ever attempt at Haiku (does it show?)

I was trying to be all ambiguous there, the first two lines to suggest the truck, the third to suggest it is my training to which I refer.

Please yourselves. You got in here for free you know!

Perhaps I won’t give up my day job just yet.

So, pretentions of poetic competence aside, it is my test tomorrow. Again. I’m clocking up the frequent flyer miles. The examiners ask after my family and want me to be a best man for them. Seriously though, my instructor has bought "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins on the strength of my recommendation. He’s only twenty or so pages into it, so hopefully I’ll have passed before he’s finished.

I’ve been in the cab that long that we’ve even got around to discussing religion (not, I would suggest, a topic one raises with a stranger, unless it’s a very small stranger and you are carrying a very stout stick.)

The cut and thrust of theistic debate invariably ends in a gunshot. As a Buddhist I am, of course, philosophically opposed to the concept of violence and will thrash soundly anyone who disagrees.

I digress from my digression. I was merely saying that I’ve been under instruction for some considerable time. And if today is anything to go by, will be for some time to come.

I booked four hours training for today, to get me back in truck mode. Bloody good job too. I was terrible. I mounted about three or four pavements, went into two islands too hot, and nearly took out one of those orange plastic light things they have on the little lane-dividing islands.

Hopefully that will have shocked me back into alertness for tomorrow. I can’t stress enough how not good I was today. And I’m still too close to parked vehicles. It’s the curse of the biker. I’m not picking up on it because, unlike the pavements, my brain doesn’t automatically register it as a mistake. I know I can get through a gap, so am looking for the next problem, get through the gap and don’t panic that there was only a fag-papers distance twixt truck and passed object. It takes an ashen faced instructor to point out my …, over competence, shall we say.

It will be down to luck again tomorrow, I have passed both parts of the test, now I have to do them both together.

*Sighs deeply*

Ho hum,

Tomorrow will tell.

Later,

Buck.

PS

Unbearable tension

Unrelenting, infinite hour

Repeat ad nauseum.

That’s right, I failed again. Still, I have the reverse sussed now! I mounted another pavement, and made a few silly mistakes due to flapping.

I get to do it all again on the 28th.

Joy.

Change is the only constant (have you always thought that?)

Interesting times in the world of the Buckster.

The long standing rumour about us being chucked out of our department and agency drones taking our jobs appears to be about to bear fruit.

We worked one of our rest days from mid November to early January, which, with the way our shift pattern is, meant lots of nine day stints. We did double-backs (2-10 on a Saturday, back in for 6-2 on a Sunday) during those nine day stints. We worked tirelessly and determinedly, setting new productivity records in the process.

Then, as soon as the xmas rush was over, we heard the rumour.

Since then it has gone back and forth; first it was flatly denied, then we had an agency boss sizing our job up for a whole day, nothing came of the bid he put in, still denied there was anything to the rumour, then a whole gaggle bosses from different agencies came around, and finally whilst off last weekend our boss’s lad came in and told us it was definite.

Big bummer.

We’ve still not heard anything officially, but when asked directly at the union meeting the head of our site wouldn’t deny it, just saying "de-kit will be told before anything happens."

We’ve had a day of go-slow, and now have managers checking up on us every twenty minutes or so, and the boss has been told into which department he is going, as for the rest of us it is still unofficial and we have no idea!

This is DHL, one of the biggest multi-nationals around, and they are treating us like this. It’s not like we can do anything else about it, we just have to take it, so why not at least let us know what is happening and when? Most pressingly of all, we need to know where we are going, if we are no longer in de-kit.

I’ve downloaded an application form for Wisemans Dairies (the ones who have the black and white cow patterns on their trucks) and will have it in the post tomorrow. I will take a class II driving job at Manchester rather than go back into the freezer. As regulars here will know, the game plan was to pass my artic and get a job where I am, but Wiseman’s have artics and tankers, so I can move up when I do pass. If they will take me on as a rigid driver (which DHL/ Iceland, won’t).

The other huge change is I’m finally taking the plunge and venturing into the great unknown of a different ISP! Very nervous, but they surely can’t be as bad as AOL!

I’m going with Plusnet, who, according to Uswitch’s independent customer satisfaction survey, are second only to O2 (but they demand you have a mobile with them for the service I want).

When I rang AOL for my MAC (I suppose everyone who’s not me already knows that’s the code you need to transfer to another internet provider). I was on the ‘phone for fifteen minutes while the geezer kept offering me better deals to stay with them. Free wireless router, unlimited free calls, sex with his sisters etc.

(OK, I may have fibbed about the last one.)

But no! I stayed true. I’m offski!

I’ll send everyone my new email before I change.

Interesting times indeed.

Right, beddy-bo’s for Bucky,

Later,

Buck.

Carry on regardless

Hi there, I’ve had an interesting few days.

At work everyone on my shift in my department was off on Tuesday and Wednesday, except yours truly. This meant I was left, de facto, in charge, and given a couple of work-shy muppets to try and get the job done.

For one thing, I’m not a bossy sort. I prefer to do my own job, and let everyone get on and do theirs. Then there’s the calibre of muppet they send over. It seems to be the rule that if they are any good at their job, or don’t mind working, they won’t send them to our department.

Tuesday was bad; two lads who although they had worked in our department before and therefore knew the job, were determined to do as little as possible.

One bright spot in that shift though was a conversation one of them was having with another lad about one of the managers. Said manager has started growing one of those fashionable moustache/ beard jobbies, commonly and erroneously referred to as a goatee.

Anywho, one of the lads said "What’s up with him? When I saw him before, he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders."

The other lad replied "His missus has left him."

"His new missus?"

"Yeah."

There was a thoughtful pause, "Still, no excuse for not shaving."

Lad humour. Cruel, but fun.

Then on Wednesday I had an even more work-shy crew, and I ended up losing my rag and giving one of them a mouthful. I was ready to lay him out, I was that angry. After that he pulled his weight and everything went swimmingly.

The moral to that story being; if your man-management skills aren’t great, just make it known slackers will be severely beaten. As one of those demotivational posters proclaims: "Slavery. Gets shit done."

The very same day I managed to pick up a wannabe copper on my way home. I was tootling well within the speed limit, (as set by Einstein) took a corner somewhat enthusiastically, then noticed a cop car in my mirror. Obviously I obeyed all the highway code strictures (as always!) and surreptitiously put my seatbelt on. I got on to a national speed limit road, still being followed, accelerated to 70-ish, came to an island, slowed to 60-ish, shot across, then got flashed down by the cop-car. It had no blue lights, so used headlights to get me to pull over. (Does that mean it was one of those volunteer, wannabe coppers?)

So I pulled over. On a clearway. Bit miffed. Stupid arse had me get out of the mighty Micra and into the back of his play cop-car. Giving me grief about, not slowing down and driving like I was in a go-kart. He was saying there was a car at the island and if he’d have pulled out I couldn’t have stopped. I know. It was my right of way. Darwin had something to say about people who pull out in front of speeding vehicles when it’s not their right of way. Their deaths contribute to the fitness of the gene pool.

Anyway, after pointless waffling I was let off without even a caution. Tossers. Get a job.

Today all is well, I’m off for the weekend! Hoorah!

The chucking down patches of rain haven’t stopped me from going to B&Q and doing loads of gardening. Happy days.

Right I’m off for a shower and then to the chippy (it’s Friday night, it’s the law)

Toodles.

Buck.

PS, just to explain a bit about the gardening photo’s I’ve added to my pictures. I got a memory card for the camera for when we go on our jolly hols at the end of the month so thought I’d try it out. Then thought I might as well share.

What is not apparent from the photo’s is what is happening. There are those who see the imperfections in what is, rather than envision the perfection to which it aspires. To those nit-picking, glass-half-empty, obtusely pragmatic individuals I say; "Shut up, Wendy!"

It is not finished, hopefully never will be, but there is a vision. The grassy knoll is the prime case in point. When I started with the box hedge it was nothing but a bunch of 3" tall twigs and a general desire to have a formal element in the garden, Several incarnations later it has become a vision of clipped circular miniature hedge. An inner ring of sedge grass, the cordyline australis (big sword leaved red plant) and phormeum (big black leaved ones) boxing in the recent addition of a hump (to ensure the centre piece eucalyptus is sufficiently dry). In front of which are two smaller, decorative grasses. Atop the new mound is a ring of blue grass. To tie it all into a cohesive unit is that green ground cover. I’m allowed to trim the box at the end of this month, so it should look more or less the part, and I reckon the ground cover will have spread to cover the whole area by the end of the year.

Too much information, I’d readily agree, but the whole garden is like that. An evolving scheme. Every decision creates problems, overcoming them presents opportunities. (My god, I think I’ll have to take up motivational speaking!) I’ll post some more pictures anon. It will look good. Despite Wendy.