Why I do what I do.
Just in case you weren’t aware, I love my job, well, OK, I love my family business to bits. It’s 50 this year, and just to qualify, I was NOT born at the time. Let’s make that clear now! It’s so incredibly diverse and interesting. Every day is totally different, all sorts of different things happen, from things that make you laugh, things that make you want to burst into tears and other stuff that makes you rush out the nearest back door and scream your lungs out. Thankfully, I tend to find the humour in things most of the time. Just as well really.
The last couple of weeks have been mental, for various reasons. Ed’s on holiday at the moment and quite frankly I had to kick him out the door last Monday, given he’d already delayed his holiday (at my request) for a week. There was some work going on, on the forecourt that needed careful managing. I assured him we could cope and your know, we did! We were needing to dig up the front entrance from the bike park across to the two road-side pumps. The diesel lines were goosed, following line pressure testing. My lovely brother, Iain had only finished laying the mono-blocks at the end of last year. We were devastated that we were going to have to lift the lot and lay new pipes underneath. I nearly shed a tear. Bricks out, dig the concrete out, plant 3 new pipes (why just have one when we can cover all eventualities?) cover with concrete again, then sand then replace all the bricks again. Job done.
I have to say everything went smoothly, the crew on the job knew exactly what they were doing and only over ran on time by half a day. In the meantime, the entrance to the business was restricted somewhat. I warned the workmen that things can go pear-shaped if we didn’t keep an eye on it. Their comforting words were, “Don’t worry doll, we’ve worked on bigger and busier sites than this!” They said it so genuinely, I had no reason to doubt them. What they didn’t realise was, the waves of business that come in. The boss came back to me later and his eyes were like saucers, “I’ve never seen anything like it, bloody hell, it gets busy here, doesn’t it?!” I just grinned at him with a ‘told-you-so’ look on my face. In the meantime, I was making good use of my high-vis vest directing traffic. I’m a natural bossy-boots wearing high-vis, that’s for sure.
So, enter from stage north and south all the idiots who truly need to re-visit the highway code. What part of a simple ‘keep left’ sign don’t you understand? You know, the big blue one with the biggy-wiggy white arrow pointing to the left.
People’s brains must go into neutral when the see a ‘change’ to anything. Not satisfied at the simplicity of a keep left arrow and another directional arrow on the left hand side, they make it up as they go along. All of it. Oh, I’ll just pop up this way (the wrong way) then have a blind panic when they see a coach heading right at them and there’s nowhere for them to go other than back the way they came…. Oh, no; that involves reverse gear AND reversing. Dear god. Have these people really passed a driving test? Often, when I watch people struggle, I have to contain myself from laughing out loud and asking for the keys to their car so I can just get it done for them. We really should have a CCTV camera angled up the car park, just for chuckles. And YouTube. As for the customer that walloped our entrance (concrete) sign on Sunday, that will have been costly… for them. They’re so heavy they need the teletruck to move them.
So, a couple of days looking after the entrance, trying to stop nuggets doing stupid things was about as stressful as it got. You’d think. No. We were running on a wee diddy tank of diesel instead of the whopper that was out of action. The forecourt has been a mess for weeks. It’s been cringe-worthy at times and frustrating for customers trying to work out where to get fuel from. Sorry about that. Then there’s the stupid wankers that insist on trying to fill up from the pump on the wrong side. There was one guy literally heaving, like a tug of war, on the unleaded hose. Jeez. STOP IT, NOW!!! (I have a tannoy, boy I can put it to good use.) It’s not on a bloody spring, nor does it have a hidden roll of spare hose tucked up on a bloody sky hook above the pump. And breathe. I nearly had a heart attack when a gent came in and said that the petrol was running slowly on pump 2. Noooooooooooo…… not something else, please. So, off Susie and I trot armed with a green petrol can and tested it. Huh? Then two bikers pulled onto the forecourt. I asked them if they would mind testing it for us. Nae bother, I actually filled both their bikes for them. Happy to help! Nothing wrong with it. Operator error. So, back to said gent. When he complained, I sent him to pump 5 or 7. We knew the unleaded was fine there. He came back in sighing. “OK, sir?” I asked. “No, it’s OK though, I’ll just pay for the first lot.” I asked what the problem was. He admitted that the petrol cap was now on the wrong side and he wasn’t able to manoeuvre his car, it was a hire car. (He was Scottish, by the way.) I offered to help; after all, he could have driven onto the main road and started again. So, he just left; without his petrol.
So, Saturday. Friday night we had a teeny-weeny power cut. The business alarms went bonkers. Twice. The second time, I was about to head to bed to read. Not bloody likely. My neighbours must have been dizzy with me going up and down the road. I couldn’t get the wailing to stop. It wasn’t good. Eventually things calmed down, we even served bikers at 10:10pm with fuel, given they were shit out of luck getting it from anywhere else. Good job, team. Proud of you. So, got to bed slightly later than expected. Snore.
Saturday morning. (It’s never a quiet Tuesday afternoon) There’s no phones, there’s no server, no alarms, no EPOS tills. Two staff off sick, head chef with a broken arm and new news of one of our Manager’s son breaking his arm. One barrier knocked down on the forecourt and just for good measure pumps 3 & 4 went on the fritz. OK, just minor issues then. Breathe. Just as I was realising that I was also locked out the office, my saviour walked round the corner, our in-house geek, Craig, who did all the required crawling around on the floor to get everything (the whole world) re-booted again. Back in business by 9am. Phew.
In the meantime, we were left with only pumps 1 & 2 dispensing diesel at 12 noon. At 12.30, the tanker appeared. More traffic management. So, this is one big mother trucker. 36,000 litres of diesel doesn’t just appear in a wee transit van. I was holding the traffic back, to allow the tanker driver to reverse onto the tank farm (the bike park). Where this woman in a large black car came from I have no idea. She was trying to go behind the tanker, against the flow of traffic and trying to scoot round by the bike park….. WTF? Honestly, I have no idea where she came from or where on earth she thought she was going. Yep, she had to reverse. She had issues.
Whose bright idea was it to have a petrol stations in Tyndrum? Oh yes, I remember now, my late grandfather. What a cracking idea!
Back on the Filling Station counter, it was good craic. Given the miserable weather, I think it’s really important to have a bit of banter with the customers to lift them out of their blue funk. Weather is always the most popular conversation, of course. I always try to look on the bright side, you have to. A bloke bought a bottle of Lauders whisky….. I looked at him, he looked back at me. I smiled and said, “Just checking” and approved his alcohol sale. He burst out laughing and said I’d made his day, that I’d put a spring in his step. Bless, he wasn’t a day under 40.
In the middle of the (organised) bedlam, a man approaches the counter and leans over towards me, saying he ‘knows’ Edward and would we give him a contribution for their charity event in Fort William. I apologised, said I was too busy to deal with it just now. He said in his lovely Fort William accent, “Och, don’t worry, I’ll go and have lunch and come back again.” Oh dear. Things when he came back were worse. He was oblivious to the 8 customers standing behind them tapping their feet in frustration. I had to send him away. Sorry Ed, I’ve passed the buck. The thing was, his wife stayed at the counter. I had to say, “Next, please!” to give her the hint. Just go away, too busy!
I got time for a quick lunch break; at 3pm. Threw down some food, and was heading for the back door. There were two trolleys of dirty dishes, there was only one thing for it. One minute later, I was up to my elbows in soup bowls, feeding the dishes through the faithful Hobart dishwasher. Apparently I haven’t lost my dishwashing skills; I still have it. My work shirt doesn’t agree though, the high pressured ‘backwards’ (Note to self: must ask the plumber why he did it that way. I have marginal learning difficulties with it) tap sprayed me twice and my left boob was covered in Cullen Skink. Thank goodness that was pointed out to me. That could have been embarrassing.
You see, that’s why I love what I do. You have to be able to turn your hand to anything, including scrubbing manky dishes and mopping floors; cleaning tables, being a car park attendant and at one point helping a woman find her car keys. On that note, Bernadette and I walked miles looking for her keys. Nowhere in sight. Bernadette asked her to check her pockets again. Apparently my inside voice became my outside and I said, “Please do check again, I don’t want to have to frisk you.” Amazingly enough, 15 minutes later, she found her keys. She disappeared before we could find out exactly where she found them. My guess? Her pocket.
I was glad to get home after work. I had a (yes, one) glass of wine with my Mum on the way home. It’s probably as well I was ‘home alone’, I was barely capable of speaking. Worn out; in a good way though! Only one thing for it. Blog. Other therapy involves going out on my motorbike.