What a week I’ve had.
Leading on from the last post I did the Friday at the plumbers place. It was a total doddle and the guy sorting out the load said it was actually embarrassing because there was only 7 drops.
The company was called Grahams which is a plumbers merchants based at Whitehouse Trading Estate in the north part of Ipswich. I got there at 7.30 and saw I was to drive a transit van for the day. There were, as I said, only 7 drops mostly comprising of bags with plumbing supplies such as pipe joints, taps, Yorkshire Elbows. There was also a couple of heavy shower bases and about six sheets of hardboard so all in all an easy day for me. They gave me my paperwork, a fuel card and pin and a mobile phone/scanner and off I went. The delivery areas were Ipswich, Felixstowe, Brightlingsea, Clacton and Holbrook. It was pretty uneventful apart from one drop which was on a building site and I had to wear my hi-viz and a hard hat. As I trudged through thick mud in search of the plumber who’d ordered the goods I was attacked by loads of small insects which seemed to be drawn to the bright yellow hi-viz. They were in my ears, my mouth, absolutely everywhere and as soon as I’d located the plumber and got his signature I got the hell out of there lively! I drove back to base and was done by 2pm. Probably the easiest day I’ll ever have.
So, to my week with the bed factory.
I arrived at 6am on Monday and the lorry was almost loaded. My run this day would take me into the heart of London via a drop in Maldon, Essex first.
The Maldon drop was a place called Vaulty Manor and was some sort of health Spa. A barrier was raised and I was met by the caretaker. I had 14 mattresses to deliver here and they were all of the 5 foot expensive variety so a full workout for me. After dragging about 8 mattresses into the clubhouse another worker emerged from somewhere and helped me with the rest. With the papers signed I headed for the Smoke.
Knowing London as well as I do I could practically picture every drop-off I had to do and could foresee problems where others wouldn’t. The St Giles Hotel in Bedford Avenue was going to be my first London drop and I knew drop-off space would be severely limited. As I arrived at the scene there were Taxis on the rank, chauffeur cars aplenty. Opposite the hotel there was a building site with several lorries waiting to unload. This was going to be a nightmare! I drove slowly through all the chaos taking in all the possible stopping points. The goods-in bay was busy and the chauffeur cars were partially blocking the entrance. I decided to drive round the block, stop where I could and go and have a word with the goods-in guys. They had been waiting for my delivery of 45 assorted mattresses and there was a team of helpers waiting to unload, the only problem was I was nowhere near close enough and would have to wait. I had to fight to get the lorry outside the goods-in bay as the building site guys needed the space for their lorries to unload but the team of helpers literally had the 45 mattresses off in about 5 minutes and I was on my way to the Indian YMCA a few streets away. There were only 3 mattresses for here and I was in and out in 5 minutes. Next stop was one of the hundreds of small B&B’s in the Bayswater area. As a cabby I could use most of the London bus lanes but as a trucker I had to wait with all the other motorists in the ridiculous traffic. So, the journey from Fitzrovia to Bayswater took forever. The Kings Hotel was located on Queensborough Terrace and I was able to stop right outside. I had 6 five foot mattresses for here and a guy leaning on a Mercedes instructed me to “go and call Igor, he will help you”. Igor (I was picturing The Hunchback of Notre Dame) was an ageing guy with a strong Eastern European accent. He helped me carry one mattress off then tried to carry it up the stairs as I went back for the other five. As I brought the next one in he was only four steps up the flight and seemed to be struggling. By the time I’d bought the last one in he was rounding the corner on the first landing. I thought to myself that in the course of this job I’m going to come across all types of people. Helpful, useless, well-meaning and complete wastes of space, Igor would have to fall into the second category! The guy leaning on the Merc signed the paper work and off I went to deliver a five foot mattress to the Reem Hotel in Princes Square which was easy and I was off on my last drop in Herne Hill south London.
The street I was to deliver to was tight. It would be hell getting out. I only had 2 three foot mattresses for here so I probably should’ve anticipated problems and parked where it was easier and barrowed them to the front door, I’m still learning. After several rings of the bell a guy answered. He looked rough. He asked if I could take them upstairs I said I wasn’t allowed to. He begged me to as he was ill and had cut a holiday in Spain short due to contracting a virus. I felt sorry for him (that’s probably gonna be my downfall in this job) and carried them up. No tip! Job done. Now to return to base. As I said it was tight. My way out was tighter than my way in and with such a long overhang at the back I almost relieved several cars of their wing mirrors. I know I definitely bent one back but I finally got away and headed eastwards. It took me four hours to get from Herne Hill to Ipswich. England were playing Iceland at 8 (let’s not go there!!) so I had hoped to get back in time for it. Traffic was rubbish. I had rush hour to contend with and road work problems at the A13/M25 junction which I was later told had been there for ages. I finally pulled into the yard at 8.01pm and rushed home to watch the game…as we all know now, I needn’t have bothered.
The next four days saw me do a night out job to the Midlands and another one to Scotland but I’ll leave them for the next post as the missus wants to go out.
Take care out there and keep them doors locked at night!!