A Road to Nowhere
I don’t normally swear, at least that’s what I tell my mum, but I can tell you, that there were a number of expletives that came out then. Some of them were quite eye-watering, but boy, at that moment did I feel relief. Relief like you can’t even imagine. The day had already been shit – there I go again – so I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything else.
Have you ever walked out of your house in the morning, and found that some idiot has parked his car over your driveway? I’m not talking about a tiny bit of the bumper poking out, making your reverse out just that little more tricky, no, I’m talking about the whole van covering the entirety of the exit to your drive. Not some of it. All of it.
It looked like a delivery van. It was white – well, it had been at one point – with a logo on one side. So I’ve waited maybe ten minutes before I start knocking doors. I’m still polite at this point, you understand. Very much ‘excuse me, does that van belong to you?’ Nice, like. So I find the bloke who owns that van. He’s delivering some kitchen blind thing to a woman a few doors down. Not sure why it took him almost fifteen minutes to deliver a five foot pole, although it may have had something to do with the woman still being in her nightwear and being twenty-something and blonde, and all.
I digress. So, the bloke moves his van, but now I’m late for work, right? I want to tell him about his parking, and that he can get his flirt on, that’s no problem, but why the hell couldn’t he park somewhere else? But I don’t. Got to get to work.
Bye van man. So now I’m going to be late. Nob.
So imagine the scene: I’m running late and I’m not going to have time to go over my presentation. Oh, right. I forgot to mention that I’ve got to change the status of a bunch of people today. From employed to unemployed. You see why my stress levels are climbing? It doesn’t sound like much, but five per cent efficiency savings are more than you think. I’d already given a week of my time to preparing a report, and if I do say so myself, I made a damn fine job of it. I’m talking video, graphs, animations. The works. I’m hoping it will be enough to keep the board off my back for a few more months at least.
So I get to work five minutes late - thanks, white van man – and press on with the presentation. Frigging projector lets me down, but no panic; I’ve got printed copies of the presentation to pass around. So I get to the point where I explain how we are going to make the savings; the usual shit, increased efficiencies, outsourcing, resource sharing and so on, but there would, of course, be job losses.
That bit hadn’t gone well. People don’t take well to being told they are losing their jobs. Some wanted to know the practicalities: will I get my last month’s wages? How soon is this happening? Others just shake their heads, get their jackets and leave. Others still, however, wanted to tell me what they thought of my management style and me. Same result though: grab their stuff; post me my wages and fuck you very much.
So I hope you can see the direction in which my day was going. Downwards.
At five PM I pulled on my jacket and pushed though the front doors. Time to put today behind me and time for the rest of the day to begin, and tonight should be a good one. I’m off round to see Daz. We’ll probably get some pizza and watch some football. If he wants, I can beat him at some Xbox. It doesn’t matter what; I’ll beat him. He’ll probably want to argue about what team is going to win the league this year, and I’ll let him make all the points he wants. I know it will be City; it’s always City. But I’ll let him talk himself dry, after all, he’s entitled to his worthless opinion. This is what gets me through days like today; knowing that I’ve got a good mate to go and shoot the shit with afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mandy, and I enjoy coming home to her, don’t think I don’t, and don’t ever say otherwise to her. Oh right, Mandy’s my girl. She’s great and everything, but she meets a need that Daz can’t and tonight, I just want to eat pizza, drink beer, and talk football.
My car is waiting for me at the back of the car park. It’s bright red and glittering in the early evening sun. Only that’s not quite right. In my mind’s eye it is, but in this world, I can see the rust from several metres away. I think this car is not long for this world, but it owes me nothing. It was ten years old when I bought it and that was another ten years ago now. But hey, it’s mine, and it felt nice to pull the door shut behind me and shut out the rest of what has turned out to be a crap day.
I turned the key and loosened my tie. I was planning going to change out of this suit the minute I get in. I’d have a quick shower, grab a bite to eat, maybe see if I can get a quick shag out of Mandy before I head out.
There was a click from beneath the bonnet of my car. Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I often think it myself: why am I driving a twenty-year-old POS on my salary? Why not something high class? Why not take the offer of a company car? Well, this rust bucket has seen me through a lot: I lost my virginity in it; smoked my first joint in it; got pulled for speeding for the first time in it. I’ll ride this baby until it falls apart.
So I called roadside assistance. I pay £125 every year, so I figured I would get my money’s worth. A guy came. Forty minutes. I’m already late, and this isn’t helping. When he arrived, he did no more than take a look, shake his head and tut. After more head shaking and more minutes, he went into his van and came back with a metal bar. I’m not talking about a precision instrument I mean a metal bar. About half a metre in length and as thick as three of my fingers, he took it under the bonnet and struck something in the engine. After a second straight clang of metal on metal, he asked me to try the engine again, which I did, and it only bloody started. ‘New starter motor,’ he said. More money, but I thanked him and waved as he left.
The rain had started to fall and the light was fading fast as I pulled out of the car park, heading home, which may have played a part in the small accident I got into on the way. Approaching an island, I slowed to a stop, waiting for a gap in the traffic, however, the old boy behind me was clearly not paying attention as evidenced by the shunt I felt, throwing my head backwards. The damage wasn’t bad, mostly cosmetic, although to be honest, you couldn’t really tell on this car. There was a small deny on the rear bumper that would need looking at, but nothing too severe. That would have been okay, but swapping insurance details and listening to the old guy apologise – he’d had the wrong glasses on, or something – took me another half an hour, turning my half hour journey home into an hour.
No time for a shower, I figured when I got home. Daz was expecting me about now, I guess, so no time for a shag either; just a kiss for Mandy and a garbled description of the day’s events as I changed my shirt. Then it was into the car, and off to Daz’s.
I probably don’t need to tell you, but when I turned the key, I got that clicking sound again. I’ve got no time to wait around and besides, I watched what the guy did earlier. I can’t believe I pay £125 for that, so I ran back into the house and grabbed a hammer. If I had a metal pole, I would have used one, but I didn’t so I didn’t, okay? I’d seen where he had prodded his metal bar, so reaching inside the engine I gave the starter motor a delicate tap with the hammer. Another turn of the key and another click, led to a firmer strike on the offending part before the engine finally roared – well, spluttered – into life. I thre the hammer onto he passenger seat and snapped my seatbelt into place.
Looking at my watch, I saw that I was even further behind, so I did something I’m not proud of, and it’s not something I’ve ever done before, but I made the tyres scream as I pulled away from the kerb, which surprised me, as I didn’t even know my car could do that!
I don’t normally swear, at least that’s what I tell my mum, but I can tell you, there were some corkers that came out then. Some of...