THE Day From Hell

So often my title involves ‘Filling Station Rants / Funnies’, Entertaining ‘Oopsies’ and all the rest. This is slightly different. A day in the life of The Green Welly Stop.

It all started on Thursday night. Thursday the 22nd of July. There was a power cut. I realised during the night that my fan, which keeps my room cool, had turned off. I have no idea what time that was. I try to not look at my phone on purpose. It’s generally worse when I do so, and keeps me awake.

So, APPARENTLY, the power went off at 11pm. Not long after that, Cameron and Robert had hot-footed it up to our house to tell us. (To fill you in, it was the third major outage in the village.) I say, ‘apparently’, because they were beating on the back door, which is approximately 3m away from my pillow. I heard nothing. I am sure when they raised Ed out his bed, there must have been a conversation. I heard nothing of that either.

I did wake at 2am-ish. My phone rang. It was the business alarms, triggered by a powersurge. According to the SSE, the sky lit up as if there had been a lightning strike. My eyes were closed. I saw / heard nothing, again. I heard Ed leaving, so I turned over, and snuggled up with Minnie. Completely oblivious. Minnie, oblivious too was purring away…

When my alarm went off, Ed called through to say the tea was being made, however, he was having to boil the water on the hob. My first thought was, “Bugger, no shower.”

Yeah! 7.45am the power went back on, shower had and I drank my tea.

I herded the cats… or tried to with no luck. They’re fussy wee buggers. If they don’t like their breakfast, they go out and catch their own. Fine. Just don’t bring it in to eat it. The occasional dead ‘thank you’ is acceptable.

My phone rings, “Are you coming down any time soon?” Says Ed.

“I’m on the way!”

“Good,” says Ed… “There’s been a fire in the office!”

As if a rocket had been shoved up my arse, I hot-footed it down to the business. Jogging was out the question.

So, when the power came back on, it seems that a calculator and money counter (essential pieces of kit), had burst into flames. During the time 7.45am and 8.15am (when the office team opened up), the equipment started to smoulder… by the time the team went into the office, the flames were 2 foot high, the closed room was engulfed with flames. Glenn, our maintenance manager attacked it with the appropriate fire extinguisher, thank goodness.

The office was stinking. Charcoal grey in the office. Computer chucked, desk going to a bonfire, and as for the calculator and cash counter, they’re beyond it!

What was left of the calculators…

Then the fire brigade arrived, and they deemed the office safe. Needless to say, since then, we have had our electrics in the office checked and even more surge-protectors put in place. So, life goes on. The office stripped, equipment binned, shelves stripped, clean-up begins. It was honky-wonky stinking. Just imagine though, if the power had come back on at 6am, we probably would have lost everything.

Just for good measure, the SSE had discovered the issue and had to put the power out again. Thankfully, it was only in the Filling Station, so we were still able to put the Londis delivery away in the semi-darkness. The main building was still functioning and we were still serving lunch. People are funny though. What part of ‘we have no power’ do folk not understand? We don’t have hand pumps to miraculously pull petrol out the tanks. No, we can’t sook it out with a hose either. Please be patient!

So, just after lunch time, the power is back on… the shit well and truly hits the fan. One of our team has tested positive for the nightmare that is COVID-19. Ouch ya fu@ker. Unfortunately, the member of staff lives in staff quarters, so not only do the ENTIRE household have to self-isolate, two other members 10 in total. NOT 19, according to local gossip *sigh*. Being 25 staff short already, being another 10 down was a bit of a blow.

We needed to do a LOT of rota-juggling. Ironically, if it is irony, Ed had said to me just a few days before that we will probably have to start working a 6 day week. I nearly spat out my knee anesthetic (wine). Working 5 (long) days a week was nearly finishing me. My compromise when Ed said that, was 5 and a half days. Nah, it ended up being 6 after all. It’s been like running a marathon (in my imagination) crossed with crystal maze challenges along the way. Before I knew it, I was back starring in the Filling Station selling pies.

All the team did a superb job of holding the business together during the following couple of weeks. I was so immensely proud of them all. Just as well I had just been on a two week holiday, otherwise I probably would have ended up in hospital with exhaustion. Smoggy and Indy didn’t even turn a wheel for 3 weeks, I was incapable of summoning up the energy and concentration that’s involved in being in charge of a motorbike!

It’s now September and it’s taken all this time to have the time to complete this blog. Summer is nearly over and yeehah, we have popped out the other side with smiles still on our faces, our health intact and a rather tired team. We still don’t have enough staff to open the Snack Stop fully and will have to cross our fingers that we are able to next year. The leaves are starting to fall from the trees and there’s that lovely autumnal smell in the mornings. I can’t believe the season has passed so quickly, it just seems like yesterday we were still locked down… well, some were; I was selling petrol and pies!

Thanks to Mike for this great image on Facebook… It reminded me of a bloke last week.

So, a (dodgy) guy comes up with a takeaway cup of tea. I asked him if he was wanting a lid. “No, it’s ok, my car’s right there.” He nodded out of the window. I presumed he had a travel mug in his car. The car he was nodding to was ridiculously small. Even more ridiculous was the kayak sticking out the back, held in the car by some string. He was parked right outside the window, so I got a fabulous view of him getting in the car. No, he didn’t have a travel mug. He started up the car, cup in right hand. Moved forward, changed his mind. Reversed. OOPS! The next thing he’s getting out the car, holding what remained in the cup. The rest of the tea was everywhere. I mean everywhere. Not bothered in the slightest, he put the cup on the roof of the car, stripped to his underpants, threw the clothes in with the kayak and drove off… the rest of the tea slopping around. Next time, pal, take the lid.

Under the current circumstances in hospitality with a lack of staff, why not thank the workers for turning up? Be kind and remember that other people may be having a tough time, we just happen to be serving you and doing our very best. I wish more people took the time to appreciate what we do for them instead of writing on- line complaints that are beyond belief. The most recent: “I didn’t like your sausage roll, it was greasy.” Yeah, that’ll be the sausage meat and… hawd on… pastry. It’s full of butter, ya knob. Also, see when people moan about prices, get a grip, it’s only going to be worse next year for everyone, everywhere. Oh, and don’t say, “It’s nice and clean and tidy, though I don’t shop there, it’s too pricey… I just stop and use the loos.” That. Makes. My. Blood. Boil. Our loo roll bill this year so far is over £5,000. We don’t make a profit and pay the wages out of your shit. Just saying.

Right… off to do a sandwich check 🙂

6 comments on “THE Day From Hell”

  1. Fraser says:

    Excellent, read. People eh!

  2. Who has the film rights to your life Fi… will it be on Amazon Prime, replacing Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm. A great Docudrama as always.

  3. Helena Harcourt Robinson says:

    beautifully illustrating a difficult time. Stay strong Fi. xx

  4. Fiona says:

    It was tough enough having BBC filming for the gold mine!!

  5. Caroline Ronald says:

    Glad you got the fire in time! It has been a really tough year Fiona. We have had some of the worst customers ever in my many years in hospitality. Moaning, whinging and ungrateful prats!! On the other hand there has been so many lovely ones too who make it all bearable. Hopefully next year will be a bit more normal!! We are having to do a five day week now as well due to kitchen and front of house shortages. Where the hell is everyone???

  6. Fiona says:

    Oh yes, there have been some particularly annoying, impatient customers this year… Smile, and keep your head up!

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