Archive for April, 2012

Plan.

First things first; go the tories. They announce a drought and it’s not stopped pissing it down ever since. As with their genius notion of kick-starting the economy by sacking everyone. I know it wasn’t the tories who announced the drought, but I’m blaming them. Tories announce a drought, build an ark. Wettest. Drought. EVER.

I’ve been chugging up and down the M6 in it every day. Total monsoon. The spray makes it hellish difficult to see. I commented the other day that after that day’s driving I was going to have to get the barnacles scraped off the keel on my truck.

 

The ‘plan’ of the heading refers to my new short-term master-plan. I’m on 11.30- 23.00-ish shifts at the minute, so saxophony is out of the question. The neighbours wouldn’t like an early morning rendition and I’m be blowing a tune every time I farted if I played it when Wendy was in bed. I did try to take the clarinet in to work with me, as lots of the job is just sitting around waiting. But I felt a bit embarrassed because I’m so bad at it. Then it struck me, a soprano saxophone! They are tiny little things (they look about 18 inches tall, the curved ones) but share the same keys as all sax’s.

I didn’t want to go lashing out on another instrument though. Gawd knows we have enough to spend our cash on. Then I struck upon it, sell the clarinet and buy the soprano! Genius! That way I could concentrate on one instrument, not trying to learn two lots of keys, fingerings, and bloody embouchure. It would pass the many, many, boring hours and it would be easily portable. Plus, as it is the same, but smaller, I should be able to play it sufficiently to avoid embarrassment.

I’ve acted upon it. I’ve listed the clarinet on ebay. And the satnav holder thing I bought (then had the original returned to me). Also, it has given me motivation to start actions to get the Micra scrapped.  As soon as someone calls back with a quote that will be gone. Then it’s soprano city, baby!

 

Last week we finally got rid of our old, moribund cooker. I’ve had the replacement cooker selected and bookmarked for about a year on my favourites. There is never going to be a time when we say, ‘ we’ve got this spare £500, what the hell can we spend it on?’ So necessity was the mother of investment. The old cooker had lost it’s joie de vivre, and most of the heat. Very inconsistent temperatures.

The new one is groovy. Two electric ovens. Fan assisted. Gas rings. Self cleaning. Well, I say self cleaning, part of buying a tory cooker is that they send a working class serf around weekly to clean it out. If not I’m sending it back.

 

20120421_091317

The first night we got it I went and got us a Chinese so we wouldn’t dirty it.

 

Concerning that speeding ticket, I have done a bit of research, and the law is; if you have been caught by the coppers for a motoring offence and not given a ticket on the spot, they have to give you notice of intention to prosecute within two weeks. It’s not quite that clear cut. They have to give the registered keeper the notice. (I am.) And they have to have posted it with a reasonable expectation that under normal circumstances it would reach you within fourteen days. Basically, I’m not counting my chickens for another 3 days (you know coppers, post it tomorrow and say the calendar was in the wrong) but it is 14 days today since I saw that police speed camera van.

 

Work is regular, and whilst the shifts are not optimal, at least I get the weekends off. The Colonel Sanders to my chicken of happiness is that bloody blind-side reverse. I thought I had it sussed, then on Friday I totally lost it. I couldn’t see my back end and was driving back and forth aimlessly, getting into a flap. Another driver had to guide me in. Bugger! Afterwards I thought about what I should have done, and indeed what I have been doing, and I should be OK for Monday.  I lost it though. I hate feeling like that.

Onward. I will crack it.

I was thinking about it the other day, as recently as when I started this job I used to dread reversing on to bays. You have about two inches to play with. If you are out by more than that you have to do it again. I remember wriggling back and forth, and the shunter took over and put it on for me. Embarrassing. Now I prefer to put it on a bay, you know exactly what you are aiming at and the distances to either side are fixed. I just line it up, pull forward to open my trailer doors and back on. If it’s not that bloody blind side reverse it’s getting to be first time most times.

 

I’ve just checked, I now have six people watching the clarinet. No bids yet though.

Offski,

Later,

Buck.

Once again the gods mock me.

You know how in my last  but one blog, of but a few days ago, I was waxing triumphant of my mastery in my chosen trade? To whit, I felt I’d cracked the driving gig?

Wednesday I was doing my the same run I’ve been on for the last couple of weeks. My last drop being in Northampton. It’s a nice big yard, but the bay you have to reverse on is the to the far left of the yard. This means, when they leave trailers parked in front of it, you have to reverse in blind side. It’s exactly the same principle, except you can’t lean out of your cab window and see where you are going. You have to do it all in your offside mirror. The problem with that, of course, it that it leaves you without any depth perception. You are reduced from binocular vision to a flat, reflected field. When your arse end is over forty foot away this is less than ideal.

So I was blind siding into this bay, the last one in the yard, trying not to run too far and park it over the pavement running next to my bay. I went tight around a parked unit and trailer (it would have been too easy if they hadn’t parked that there as well. Grrr.) I bottled it, thinking I’d gone too tight, so pulled forward again. As I did so I clipped the parked unit’s wing mirror with my trailer.

Bollocks.

I didn’t break it, or even scuff it, but I turned the mirror around on it’s post. This loosened it so it had to be fixed. The yard manager saw it and made me fill in an accident form. I think he was pulling a fast one, to be honest. One of the lads took the back off the mirror and fixed it while I was there. Then the repair guy came out, had a long talk with the manager and buggered off. I think it was a conversation on the lines of ‘lets bill the agency guy’s lot for a none existent repair and split the cash’.

Probably not, but I was miffed.

 

I went into work on Thursday (my lot had gone home by the time of the accident so I didn’t get to tell them on Wednesday) and the boss was so concerned about me being a potentially dangerous driver he said I’d have to do a driving assessment on Friday. Meanwhile, here’s the keys, do the same run again today.

Go figure, as the colonials would have it.

This is why I am an agency driver; because I flap terribly on assessments. If I can carry on driving without ever having to take one I am not going to put myself through it. As soon as he said that I was gutted. I started planning what jobs I could apply for next.

I had to go in early yesterday (Friday) to take the assessment. I was flapping a bit. The assessor said ‘Here’s some keys, go and get the unit that’s easiest to get out.’

Neither of them were. They were wedged in tight. I had to move other trucks just to get the bloody unit out in the first place. By the time I’d negotiated that without crashing I was settled. Nothing on the road was going to be as bloody awful as the yard. I had a bitch to the guy about how bad the yard was, saying “Assessment my arse! If you get out of the yard alive that should be a pass.” He agreed.

 

Anyway, long and short of it is, I passed! Go me! Wasn’t expecting that. Then I had to carry on a do a full day’s work after that. I just wanted to go to sleep. You know how it is, when you are all stressed out then suddenly are relieved. Long day.

The agency texted me saying I’m back in all next week, so it’s business as usual. This run is longer hours as well. And better (still not great) hours. From 11.30am until finish, usually about 11.00pm. It gives you most of the night in bed, but no free time, and oddly still quite tired. Possibly because of the caffeine all day, and trying to get a natural sleep after it. We’ve been off the Nytol for a week now. Still not great sleeps, but better.

 

I’ve decided to keep my hair at it’s current length. Apropos to nothing. Shorter is crap, longer it makes me look half bald, strangely.

Here is my current ‘do’.

Ain't no square 007

I was going for ‘I ain’t no square with my corkscrew hair’ (Marc Bolan) but a chick chum on Twitter said I look like a young Shirley Temple. *sigh*

 

What else? Well, I’m continuing to bloat out. My leg is still knackered so no running. I am turning into a stereotypical trucker lardarse. I’m going to try to get to the doctors on Monday morning before work. It’s either that or go for American citizenship.

 

That compound bow I was going on about, on ebay? The one I bid on then realized it was collection only, from Essex? I won it. *shakes fist at arbitrary yet vindictive universe*

I’ve had a fun few days with the seller. He was going to report me to ebay, and all sorts of messy things would have ensued. I offered to pay his ebay fees so he could relist it without losing out. He said if I hadn’t paid for it by end of play Thursday he was going to offer it to the next highest bidder and report me. I said I’d pay the difference between my bid and the next highest so he wouldn’t lose out. (It was £39, I bid £45) He said OK, then replied, “I’ve sold it for £15, the difference is £26. (In retrospect my full maximum bid mustn’t have got used, so it sold for £41, a difference of £2). I immediately thought he was taking the piss. He would have sold it for lots more than that and was trying to fleece me. I said I wasn’t paying that, I’d pay the £6 difference between my bid and the previous highest bidder and that was it. He said “That seems fair.”

Cheeky bastard. I wasn’t having any of that. If he’d have took that to ebay they would have had a record of exactly how much he had sold it for.

Anyway, the rabbits remain safer. They would have been fairly safe anyway, I fear. The cows are displaying bovine indifference to their lucky escape, mind.

 

I’m about 3 months from a clean license (my speeding ticket drops off then) and I may have been stung this morning. Goddamn speed camera van parked over the brook of a hill on Cromwell Ave. I was doing (an indicated) 36 mph (allegedly) when I saw it. I stood on the brakes, obviously. They say speedos are set to read 10% faster, but that still leaves me at 33 mph for a few seconds. Damn and blast their eyes. Obviously the coppers coffers must be running low. Bunch of bastards. Yet if I was to petrol bomb the van and hack them to death with a machete as the tumbled out in flames, legally, I would be in the wrong. Call that justice? Police state.

 

I downloaded the fix for my Tomtom trucknav. Seems to be working again.  It’s no better than the navigation software Google provide free on my Android ‘phone, though. All that hoo-har over evilgoogle. They should just change their motto to “Come to the darkside, our kit is better.” Honesty in advertising, it’s the future.

 

Well, that’s been my week.

Stressful.

It makes sitting around doing bugger all a lot more fun though. And at least I have weekends off at this place. Could be worse. I could be in the sewer. Or even on the end of a skewer. As the bard said.

Right, I’m off to frantically do bugger all. I’ve split the infinitive again, the atom is only a matter of time. Then watch out, cop vans.

Later,

Buck.

Drive.

I remember, many months ago, the first time someone hailed me with “Drive!” Which is short for ‘driver’, obviously, and how one addresses a lorry driver.

I was at once pleased and terrified. I wanted to be that trucker, but felt I in no way earned the title. I had the licenses, and was doing the job, just about, but didn’t know what I was doing. There are so many things to pick up; little things like working the air suspension (so you can lower the cab to pull out from under a trailer and raising it when you reverse under one so you engage properly) and working the different onboard computers to check the oil level and such. Then there was the big things; knowing where your back end was when you were cornering in the dark and reversing.

It’s only the last few weeks I’ve actually started to feel I can handle whatever is thrown at me. I’ve been doing easy trunking jobs with a few challenging bits per shift. The same company had me back after that Friday off, but on a different run. The first day my all-singing, all-dancing, £357 trucknav went tits up. I had been on the same run for weeks so hadn’t used it. That day I dropped my smartphone down the bog. It was still drying out and not working when I went to work. They gave me a new run, so I put the address in my Tomtom trucknav, which promptly died. I couldn’t get the navigation software on my ‘phone to work for ages and was going up and down the same road for about an hour looking for a road that was off the next motorway turn off.

The Tomtom had got a leap-year ‘millennial bug’, ie, it hadn’t accounted for the leap day so couldn’t connect with all the satellites that had. It transpired that in messing with my ‘phone (before the screen had dried out and was working again) I’d turned off the data connection jobby, so it couldn’t connect to the network to guide me.

When I eventually sussed that out it got me to the postcode but was guiding me into a housing estate. I resisted. Did about three laps of the one way system in Stoke on Trent, which let me tell you was designed for donkeys, not even horse and carriage. Getting an artic around there was a challenge in itself. I could see the building I was after, I did a complete lap of it without seeing a way in. In the end I tried the housing estate. I got funnelled down a little street, slaloming past parked cars, until I got to a corner with a van on one side and a car on the other, and no way for me to fit through.

I was stuck.

I tried knocking on the houses to get the vehicles moved, no answer. I was going to have to slalom, in reverse, right out of the estate. A lesser man would have blubbed and run off. They tackled me at the end of the street and dragged me back.

Not really. I had no choice but to back out. As luck would have it a copper on the beat turned up. I didn’t think they existed this side of the second world war. He went behind me. He wasn’t much help, but it’s reassuring knowing he’s stopping blind arseholes from driving up behind you. I still had them impatiently following me as I backed up.  You take the keys and do a better job, asshat. Grrr.

I rang work and told them I’d got lost, and stuck, and was well late. It was really easy to get to, I’d taken a right at an island and driven into Stoke, if I’d have gone left (into a road marked as a cul-de-sac) I’d have been there. Then I was so late I missed my next drop.

All in all, a horrendous day. I thought they would have finished me up there and then. I didn’t get a text saying ‘don’t come in’ so I went back the next day and got everything right.

 

I haven’t wanted to jinx it, but I actually think I’ve got the hang of it.

 

As recently as when I started this job I was struggling to back on to the loading bays. I could get it backed up, just an inch or two out, then was shunting backwards and forwards aimlessly trying to correct it. Now I just reverse back, pull forward to open the back doors, then back it on. Job done. Reversing between trailers I used to panic, now I line it up as best as possible, if there is too much of a bend on I get out and judge it then continue. It’s not the confident approach where you know where the back end is, but it gets the job done safely. You don’t get brownie points for style, you do get sacked for crashing.

 

So all is well with work. I am actually becoming a lorry driver, the agency seem to be getting me regular, all week, work. This is a vast improvement. You know what days you are working and at what time. Not having to leave your ‘phone on when you’re sleeping in case they ring you up with a job for an hour hence. 

 

The shifts are less than great, but then I pull up to some warehouse and I see the lads picking. Running around with someone on your back the whole shift, and I think that was me a year or so ago and realize that mine’s a pretty damn good job after all.

Lest we forget:

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Picking boxes in minus 28C. And having them threaten to sack you because you are not hitting a pick rate. It doesn’t get much shitter than that.

 

My leg has buggered up again. I did one ten mile run, fine. Went out for another, 1.7 miles in, twang. Calf gone again. I’m going to have to see the doctor.

Anywho, MotoGP is coming on,

Later,

Buck.