Archive for February, 2012

New Beginnings

It’s been a milestone couple of weeks. As I said last time we were getting a tad worried about my lack of work and, in retrospect, I was freaking out over driving in general. The mighty Micra had kiffed it and really we had no money to replace it. I’d seen a Ford Ka for £790 with 12 months MOT, which I was quite excited about.

The next day I went to view it and immediately became wary. The guy who was selling it to me was the boss of a hand car wash place. This was my first alarm, as I know of people who know people who set up a just such an operation to launder the profits of their drug dealing. Then the guy started giving me patter. That put my back up a bit, it’s like saying to someone “I’m going to talk shit at you now, but you’re so stupid you won’t understand anyway.” “We have loads of people just waiting to buy this…, I’m not here to sell this, I just valet them… tell you what why don’t I knock £50 off the price…”

Yet still I liked the look of the car, it sounded a good engine. There was a disconcerting 2 inch circle missing out of the paint in the door frame. It had obviously rusted a few millimetres away, then been repainted. He reassured me that it was a touch up job, but by then he’d already convinced me he was a bullshitter.

Still, it was the best one I’d seen. I was going to get it. 12 months MOT, at least I’d get a year out of it, and I needed a car for work. Then he said he couldn’t take my card as his machine was down. He tried to ring all of his mates to use theirs. The more desperate he got the more unsure I became. Finally he said I should draw it as cash, on a credit card, and he’s knock the 2% cash fee off the price!

I rang the card people, they said it would be £22 handling fee, if the cash machine would dispense it, then something like 27% interest.

I said I’d try him again when he got his card machine fixed.

I got home and tried the interweb again, this time I widened my search to 60 miles. There was another Ford Ka, 12  months ticket, £550! It was way the other side of Manchester, past Leeds, I think. Anyway, I tried to get someone to give me a lift out to it and my dad came to my rescue. Dropped everything and ran me straight over. And lent me some cash as apparently I’m only allowed to draw £250 per day from hole-in-the-wall machines.  Cheers dad. I’m going to be screwed when they bugger off to Bulgaria.

We tootled over there, it was a straight talking private seller, bloody spiffy little car, bish, bash, bosh, job’s a good ‘un.

 

I’m well pleased with it. It’s quite a basic model, hand wind the windows! Remember that? I think I’m getting a repetitive stress injury. But it’s a corker of a car. Only looks the size of the Micra but it seem a lot roomier inside. X reg, so 2000, but bills back to 2007, with a complete new (£500) exhaust system 14 months ago.

The only real downside is it has a tendency to want to crash. A couple of times I’ve put it in to a wet corner too tight waiting to ride the slide wide, and it has just steered in. AHHHH! That’s not how my world works. Apparently Ford don’t hold with the sideways driving technique I’ve picked up as standard for the Micra. Bloody disconcerting. They should have some sort of warning sticker on the dashboard. “Does not slide sideways on every vaguely damp corner!” I mean, who knew?

That was a happy happenchance. I so nearly bought a worse car, for more money, and at the expense of my dignity (buying in spite of the patter). Happy days.

 

Work have come through as well. I got the two days they had said plus two more. All at the same place. All but one of the jobs to the same site in Bracknell. Perfect job for me. Pick up, run down to level with London, reverse in to the same situation, come back.

The reverse was a bit of challenge. Usually you try to steer out so you are as straight to the bay you want to back onto as possible. In their yard they leave trucks parked across the way so you can’t set up the reverse. You have to drive past the bay you want to back into, with trucks parked either side of your slot, then do a 90 degree reverse. Bloody tricky.

This has been a good job for me though. 1130 until about 2230 means no need of caffeine tablets so no horrible panic attack feelings. Lots of attempts at the same reverse, so good practise. and tons of motorway driving to just chill out and relax into the job.  I have cracked the technique for the 90 degree reverse. On one of the days I got it perfectly on the bay on my first attempt. Go me! This has all had a positive effect on me. Not having the pills giving me panic attack feelings, not ballsing it up and having proper panic attack feelings and just getting confidence. It was all negative re-enforcement, fake panic feeding real panic and forcing mistakes. This last week or two it’s been building competence and  feeding confidence.

I can honestly say I’ve actually enjoyed my job over the last week or so.

It’s only a few weeks ago I was a nervous wreck hating my job and cursing the money I’d wasted on getting the licenses.

 

The Ka is super, I feel I’m finally settling into my job, there seems to be work coming in now, so money worries postponed, and Wendy is feeling fine. All is bloody peachy. Huzzah!

 

If I have to find a downside it’s just that the hours I’ve been working haven’t left me time to do much of anything else. I went to the gym today, being as I’ve got the weekend off, and did some saxing, but it’s the first time for either since last weekend, I think. Maybe Tuesday. I was off then. The neighbours probably wouldn’t appreciate a sax session past 11 pm or before 10 am. And that tune I was so confidently blasting out? Turns out it is four times faster than I thought. Can not finger that fast! (Ooer, mrs!) My delusion of adequacy was based on me not comprehending what was being asked of me. No change there, then!

Well, I’ll update this post with some pics of the Ka tomorrow (Sunday), until then I’ll leave you with a picture someone took of a pet. The caption was “I don’t think he likes the vets.”

Dog Vets

Later,

Buck.

PS, Behold the Ka!

Ka! 003

 

Ka! 004

 

Ka! 006

 

Ka! 007

Moving on.

Things were just about becoming serious. I was getting a bit stir crazy being at home all the time. I was getting more and more nervous about the thought of driving. I needed work to get over it, but just applying for it was freaking me out with nerves.The money was running out, the car needed M.O.T.–ing, Wendy was starting to get worried.

Things were, as I say, getting serious. I’d only had one day’s work in about five weeks. No other income. So not good. I had started looking at warehouse work, advertised at £6.08 per hour for shift work! Robbing bastards. I applied to about six or seven agencies for driving work without getting any work.

Wendy got me to ring up about signing on the dole on Wednesday. I wasn’t keen for lots of reasons; the hassle, the contempt in which they hold you, the bullying to take a minimum wage job or lose benefits, etc. (*looks at Beth, accusingly*) (By the way, Beth is a relative who the dole made work for them.) I rang them Wednesday afternoon and arranged an interview for Friday morning, and booked the car in for an MOT Thursday morning.

Obviously that sounded the irony klaxon, so early Thursday morning the agency rang with work for that day and Friday. Had to rush straight from the MOT to the job. I rang the dole and cancelled my Friday appointment while the car was being MOT’d.

It was a straightforward job, pick up a truck and trailer in Irlam (outskirts of Manchester), drive to Bracknell (sort of level with London) get the trailer emptied and reloaded and drive back. Easy. Except not so.

Virtually everywhere I’ve been there have been reams of prissy health and safety rules and procedures. All of which I have despised and ignored. Stuff about one way systems in the yard, always parking the trailers in one area, pointing one way, units (trucks) in another, rights of way, all sorts of bollocks.

At this place there is none of that. It is organized chaos. Without the organization. Yesterday I had to pick up a unit and trailer. The unit was locked, no-one could find the keys. The trailer hadn’t been backed into the parking slot, so the bit I was supposed to drive the unit under was inaccessible. And they’d left a different unit under it. In other words someone had finished with the truck and trailer, thought ‘screw that’ and just driven into a slot and left it there. Not even reversed it in.

Bastards.

This meant before I could start my job I had to find the keys to my unit, do the pre-op checks, then go back and get the keys for the other unit, then reverse out, blind, into a yard full of dickheads going in all directions, spin it around, do a blind side reverse back into the slot, uncouple the trailer from the unit, move the unit somewhere else, couple my unit to the trailer, return the other unit’s keys then I was ready to start.

This is on a time-sensitive job. That lot took me best part of an hour and I hadn’t even left the yard.

Time-wise the majority of the job is cushy. Hours of just sitting there in a nice comfy truck tootling down the motorway. But the bits at each end are …focusing. That was through the Drivers Direct agency, who were getting me all the work before xmas. The irony klaxon obviously woke some others though because a different agency tried to get me working the same Friday and asked if I could work Saturday morning. I couldn’t do either, because of the working time directive for rest periods. Bloody typical one day’s work in five weeks then two agencies offering me work on the same days.

 

Anyway, on Friday Drivers Direct texted me with work for the same company on Monday and Friday for next week (“we’ll try and get you the days in between”). This is all to the good. I’m thinking the post New Year draught is coming to an end.

Well timed it is too. Another week or two and it would have been grim.

 

Wendy had a bit of a rough patch but she is feeling splendid now and all is well again. This is grand.

My sax-ing has come on great guns whilst I was living the (non-dole claiming) doley dream. Possibly because the ‘Gershwin for sax’ books aren’t that hard (classed as intermediate) but I actually had a session the other day where I thought ‘I’m going to be able to play this’. Maybe another year or two, but actually play it. Not just be learning it, if you know what I mean. Probably just a delusion brought on by the comparative ease of the books and mind alteringly strong cheese.

I managed to play ‘Summertime’ (and the living is eeeeassssssyyyyyyyy) on the clarinet out of the book as well. So it can’t be that hard.Still, it’s a nice sound on the sax, hitting a good tune.

 

The only downside to my news is the car. The mighty Micra murdered by MOT. Bought two new tyres for it, put it in for it’s MOT, and it failed, epically. At least £500 of repairs, then there’s labour, and he thought there were further problems he’s need to strip the engine to get at. About 5 *DANGEROUS* items. The engine is literally about to fall out. The cross beam (?) –the arm the front wheel is attached to- is rusted through and about to snap, etc. Trivial matters, but costly. It’s PC gone mad.

 

Need a new car, ASAP. I’ve spotted a Ford KA with a 12 month MOT for £790 or nearest offer. That’ll do. Give me a year’s cheap, hassle free motoring, hopefully. Should be getting it tomorrow, if it’s as good as it looks. What I don’t want is the coppers pulling me in an un-MOT’d car and giving me points. I’ve got 3 (…ooh, I think they come off in July! Huzzah!) if I get more than another 3 I’m virtually unemployable as a driver.

 

Things are looking up again. Apart from still not being able to run because I did my leg in so badly by macho-ing those new trainers. Bollocks. Getting fat again. Hard to motivate myself to go to the gym just for a ride on the bike machine.

Ho hum, suppose it will burn off some of the blubber.

Oh, forgot to say, I’ve started back on my Russian language studies again. Found a really good introductory audio course and a very good free online course, and a free online kids tv streaming site. Talking of which, you have to watch this. It’s Russian (with English subtitles) but it is so funny. Disney really ruined it. Pooh Bear-ski.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqdiEUp6s4E 

Can’t get the bloody video to embed on here and it’s too late to be messing about. Just follow the link, it’s worth it.

Later,

Buck.