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Day from a life of agency driver :-)

A wee story from the life of an agency driver - in (poor) English :-)

Phone call wakes me up. "Are you free today? Can you work for X? ASAP please".

Out of bed, quick shower and breakfast, the backpack with all necessary stuff waits prepared in the cupboard as usual and off I am. It's usually takes me 30-35 minutes to drive there, so after 1 hr of being stuck on the motorway I called agency to let them know I'll be late.

There was about 10 cm of snow arround, that's the national disaster in UK. The traffic girl in the radio was crying to do not leave the main roads, so I left the motorway on the nearest exit hoping that most of people will listen to her. It was indeed not so bad, except that some moron abandoned his car on the bend. The traffic people put some cones arround, but then the snowplough went past and car was covered with snow up to the roof - I spotted it in last moment...

Finally I arrived. Found a parking space on the pavement used as a parking in this industrial estate. I was just about to drive onto it when some guy run from behind and tapped my window "You won't be able to get onto the pavement, all these cars are nightshift, they parked there before the snowstorm! It's impossible to get onto the pavement on this snow!!!". Ok, I thanked politely for that information then parked where I wanted to. That's a difference between British all-season tires, which are commonly know in the civilised world as a summer ones, and mine brand new M+S Vredesteins (thanks to courtesy of my local neds who slashed my original ones...)

I reported to the gatehouse. "What is your start time driver?" "I was told to come here ASAP". "Ok, I'll make it half past". I watched him putting "half past" time in both fields, which means that I am working 5 minutes for free, as it was 25 past only...

Reported to the transport office. Was hanging arround for about 5 minutes, while they were dealing with their own drivers, who were coming after me. As they all were ignoring me, I ignored them and I was leaning comfortably in the window, making a bit diffuclt to them to pass the paperwork above my head and still pretend that they don't see or hear me...

Finally some other guy came.
- You are agency? Great. Go to the canteen, we have to find you something to do. Are you all right to go to Inverness?
- With pleasure. I really like winter driving
- Hey, we have some weirdo here! Ok, go to the canteen and I will check what I can do for you. You are Polish? There is another Polish driver in the canteen".

I went to the canteen and bought myself a coffe from the machine. Off course the only day in the week I work for the company where most of duties are sitting in the canteen or hanging arround the transport office I forgot my book with me. I had to watch Jeremy Kyle show in the telly. There was some ugly and fat nedette crying that her boyfriend don't like her. No wonder, I would not like her as well. Then the guy in question was invited to the scene - gosh, If I would be him, I would be happy that anyone wants me... ;-)

I tried to start conversation with "another Polish guy", but as he wasn't speaking much English and absolutely no Polish, conversation did not lasted too long. I speak some languages, but Hungarian is not amongst them. He managed to tell me that he was supposed to go to Dundee, but they decided to hold it as the snow made the trip impossible.

Soon the transport guy arrived with my paperwork "Your truck is ready, do you know where our depot in Inverness is?"
- No, I don't but if you give me an adress it's not a problem.
- Oh, I don't have an adress, but it's easy to find. Get of the A9 as you would follow for our old depot and then take second left after it.
- But I don't know where your old depot is as well.
- Oh, no problem, anyway, it's near the airport, you can't miss it".
I refrained from asking which one is near the airport, new or old, and decided to ask one of the drivers instead.

So off I went to find my van. Off course it wasn't parked where it was supposed to, but I found it behind the trailers. The stuff on the back was the right stuff and it was even secured properly. I did my checks and drove to the gatehouse. There was an issue about my paperwork, as all paperwork I had was a yellow sticky saying "To Inverness - reload with empty cages - go back". :-) Finally after some calls they decided to let me go. I drove off and then I spotted in the mirror lady from the Transport Ofice waving and shouting at me. "Come back, your run is cancelled".

So I started to turn arround to the yard entrance. She was staying in my way saying" no way that you'll make it". To her surprise I did it and she had to step out of my way.

Back in the canteen. The Ned show is already finished and now I can watch something on healthly leaving. There was something about worker's diet. In meantime plenty of people came to the canteen: there is a lunch time, so plenty workers had their lunches - pies, beans, chips... Buns and crisps, burgers... Nothing from the telly - so this is true that TV lies, as noone was eating this sprouts with feta cheese and oatbread with tofu spread. There were two Polish ladies commenting (in Polish) the "stinky Scottish diet", then they get their breakfast out - sandwiches with Polish sausages with garlic - I had to move two tables down the canteen... I like these sausages, but they smell tasty only when you eat them yourself :-)

Soon the Transport guy came "What are you doing here? You are supposed to be in Inverness?".
- I am back already, now they are loading me with this stuff which has to be in Plymouth this afternoon" - I replied.

He laughed and then went "to organize some wee job for me". One of the Polish ladies asked if it takes long to Inverness in this weather. I explained to her, that on the snow is even faster, as you slide down this big hill on the ice...

Soon they came and send me away in 51 Volvo FL. I've been driving this before, this is the slowest lorry in Britain. After another issue with gatehouse operators (this time my paperwork was saying "Shettelston 5 cages, Pollock 7 cages") I went out. I turned onto main road and soon after second village I reached 30. I did it onto motorway, managed to reach speeed good enaugh for fifth gear and started to accelerate hoping to reach 56 before motorway ends. After about 5 kms I started to wonder if there is something wrong and then I realised that while sitting in the canteen I was reading the company propaganda materials saying that due to global warming they limited their vans to 52. My was doing about 47, and judging from the speed of other lorries passing me one after another, the speedo wasn't faulty... Maybe it's thanks to my van that instead of this warm spring we had a snow storm yesterday?

Obviously I was driving too fast as before I reached Glasgow, the snow was over.

I arrived to my first drop. Off course noone was answering the bell, so I went to the front and reported to the store manager. He opened the doors and asked me to reverse to the ramp. I asked him if he can guide me back, as I don't feel this vehicle - it was a bit shorter than most of these I drove for them. "It's not my job" he answered and left me alone.

I managed to do it myself without demolishing the tailift, nor the ramp and dropped the cages out, finding a nice pile of some crumpled boxes with food. Checked with another store worker, who had a list of stuff ordered and it wasn't for them - I can guess that this was a stuff, which was in the lorry before and just noone was interested in cleaning it.

I made my other drop and came back to depot. The transport manager spotted me at the entrance "Great, here you are! So now I have to find you another job, let's reload you with frozen". I reported the cleaness issue to him and he awarded me with brand new volvo FM. He jumped behind the wheel and drive to the frozen warehouse, when we watched an artic driver who made it to the lock in only 13 shunts. While I was waiting to be loaded, I chatted with another agency guy who was parked in bay next to me. He said that just before this artic driver was asked to get into the bay, the artic was parked along the road and when he went past him, this artic driver followed on foot and instructed him that he was too close to his mirror with his overhang, and "that it might work for some time as long you drive rigids, but after you advance to artics, there is no mercy".

So that's me loaded and can go. This time I was even given a proper paperwork. On the exit some guy approached me to ask where I am going. He said "oh, but that's all drops for a four wheeler, you won't make it on this one. See? This, this and this are too tight!"
"But I know these two shops and they are ok, you just park on the road outside... I don't know about the others though... "
"If you say that these two are OK, maybe the others will be good as well. See you later"

So off I went.

Soon after leaving the yard, my alarm buzzer went on and the fridge stopped to working. I called agency for the phone number to the company, as on the van doors there was only some phone number to somewhere in England, and I called the yard.
- X, how can I help you?
- Can I speak with transport office?
- Who's speaking?
- Orys, agency driver?
- What's the problem?
- I have some problem with my fridge.
- So what's the issue?
- My fridge stopped working, there is a buzzer on and on my display it's says...
- Ok, I don't understand, I think it will be better when I swith you to the Transport.
- beep beep beep
- transport!
- Hi, it's Orys, agency driving. I am driving ABC van and I have problem with a fridge.
- What's the problem?
- My fridge stopped working, there is a buzzer on and on my display it's says...
- Wait, I'll better switch you to the garage
- beeep beeep beeep
- ping
- bep bep bep bep bep
- X, how can I help you?
- this is Orys, agency driver, can I speak with TO?
- wait.
- beep beep
- Transport
- this is Orys, agency driver, I have problem with a fridge
- wait, I'll swith you to the garage
- beep beep
- ping
- beeep beeep beeeep
- X, how can I help you?
- can you switch me to the garage?
- No, but I can switch you to the transport office
- beep beep...

I did this circle four times and 13th person I spoke with was the person I was speaking already before. When this chap offered that he'll swith me to the garage, I gave him my phone number instead and told that I want garage to phone me.

Soon I got a phone call. They asked where I am and it turned out that I am very close to the fridge service. I drove to them and they fixed my fridge in 20 minutes. I then went for my deliveries.

All was going smooth (no wonder, if I had only about 7 cages on my 26 tonner...) and soon I noticed that there is another cage on the van as well. There was a box of bananas in this one. Box of rotten bananas. Paperwork attatched was saying that these are bananas returned to the depot 6 days ago due to being out of date... I was happy that at -24 C I can't smell it...

My next drop was this "unsuitable for six wheelers" one. I reversed right to the shutter on the back of the shop and called the guy. He asked me "how I managed to take this huge lorry in here?". I pointed at the road and said "I reversed it from there".

After another two drops, I heard a laud bang. Soon after the fridge buzzer went on again, but this time fridge was working. There was some magical code on the display, but it might be as well some random sequence of letters, I won't place a bet on that. I called the garage again. They promised to call me back, but before they did, the buzzer disapeared. They were a bit worried about the laud bang I heard but told me to continue. Just after I entered next village... BANG! BANG BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG!

Quick look at the mirror - oh, I know what's going on. The kids were still throwing snowballs at me, but I was now too far for them... :-)

Back in the yard. When I the bareer went up, some guy ran from the workshop shouting and vaving at me to go back. I thought so, at least. So I sticked to reverse gear, but he stopped me. He pointed at the rear of the vehicle saying "we don't run with an axle up in here, put it down". Good to know about after all these 50+ shifts I made for them already ;-)

Some hanging in the Transport Office window, until the guy finished reading his facebook page and decided that now he can pretend that he didn't saw me before. While passing my tacho, paperwork and digicard to him, I mentioned about fridge problems. I asked if they want me to fill some defect sheet. He went to copying machine saying "oh, there is no need to, I will remember that". Then he answered the phone call. Then he came back to the window asking "Can I help you?" and it took me a while to remind him that he took my tacho to copy and my digicard to download...

On the exit, I reported to the gatehouse. It was 12 past. "I will make it quarter past for you, driver!" said the obliging security guy...
piątek, 02 kwietnia 2010, tomek854

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