A lot has happened since my last post.
Just after Christmas work was very thin on the ground. In fact I wasn’t offered anything till the 4th of January.
I got a call from my agency at 7am on the Wednesday morning to see if I wanted to work at Canute in Great Blakenham. I accepted and got ready quickly and was parked up at their site within 40 minutes. The job was driving their 7.5 tonner around Suffolk and Essex delivering electrical supplies. I had quite a few drops to do and around 4.30pm completed the last one in the Sudbury area and headed back to base. I turned onto the A1071 in the pitch black. The conditions were cold and murky. The main beam on the truck left a lot to be desired so I was high beaming when possible and dipping when traffic approached me. It was during one of these dips that disaster struck. A hard right hand bend appeared without warning (all chevron markers were missing due to numerous earlier collisions) as I raised the high beam but it was too late to stop. The truck left the road, took off and landed nose first in a field several feet below road level. I didn't have my seat belt on at the time (silly boy) so my face whacked off the steering wheel with my nose taking the full force. Blood spurted everywhere as other cars stopped and the drivers raced over to see if I was ok. Essentially I knew I was OK. I was more concerned with how I was going to get the truck back to the depot, hopefully without having to declare I'd had a mishap. After people realised I was OK they all went on their way. But every so often another one would stop to see what had happened. I decided I had to contact my depot to inform them what had happened. As I was in a muddy field they were at a loss as to who to call to get me out. One of the motorists told me they knew a farmer nearby who had a great big tractor who could probably help me out. I agreed and had to wait about half an hour for him to arrive. I told the depot I had sorted some recovery and they asked if the truck was damaged but as it was pitch black I couldn't see. Before the tractor arrived I walked around the truck with my iPhone torch in one hand and a bloody tissue held to my nose in the other and gasped at the amount of damage that the fall from the road had caused. As far as getting any more work from my agency went I knew I was toast. Both the cabs steps had fallen off. The front grill was smashed to pieces and for all I knew the suspension was knackered so all in all it wasn't looking too good for me. The guy turned up with the tractor and started negotiating with me as to how much I would give him to pull me out of the field. The company I was working for should probably have paid but I think reality and shock were setting in by this time and I just wanted to get home so I said all I had on me was £30 so he agreed to do it. He attached a chain to the truck and literally had me out of the field and onto a side road in 2 minutes. I thanked him and started hobbling back towards Great Blakenham. There was definitely loads wrong with the truck. It was making funny noises and wasn’t driving so well. My face and nose were aching and now my ribs were hurting. I probably should have gone to A&E but that’s not my style. As I limped into the depot the guy I had spoken to in the morning was waiting in his car to assess the damage. He took one look at it and shook his head and drove off without a word to me. Haven't they heard of the phrase "Accidents happen"? I basically couldn't wait to get away from the place so I went into the office and handed the keys over. They wanted me to fill out all sorts of forms but I said I needed to go to hospital and it would have to wait and I turned round and went to my car. I sat there for a while and composed a long text explaining everything to my agency. I knew that would be my last assignment (they haven’t contacted me since!!) for them but luckily I was with several other agencies so I knew I'd be back at work soon enough. I got home and Jane fussed over me whilst I had a bath and got cleaned up. My nose was turning dark purple by now and I thought it was probably broken but still I knew I wouldn't go to hospital.
I spent the whole next day in bed recovering and was debating whether to stay off till Monday but thought it was probably better to get straight back to work. I texted a different agency to say I was available and they promptly replied with a shift at a firm in Bury St Edmunds for the following morning. It was a different type of work to anything I had done. I was delivering large iron frames to companies and building sites in a drop sider 7.5 tonner. It also had an analogue tachograph, something I hadn't used since my bus driving days in the late 80's. The whole day was an absolute doddle and I was back home by 4pm to continue my recuperation over the weekend. Everyone I had come into contact with had asked me if I'd been in a fight due to the state of my nose I said yes to some adding "you should see the other bloke" and to others I just said I'd had a prang in my car.
The next week started with no work for three days followed by a phone call asking if I could do Thursday and Friday at an electrical firm called Newey & Eyre in Ipswich. It was van work but easy peasey. One little incident worth mentioning was when I was driving around the country roads north of Hadleigh in Suffolk I came upon a ford crossing a stream (I think possibly my first ford ever). I just assumed it was possible to cross as why would it be there? The water level did look high as there had been quite a bit of torrential rain the last few days but I started to cross anyway. The front of the van dipped towards the stream and the water level soon reached the bottom of the windscreen. This wasn't right thought I! It was a miracle the engine never cut out as that would have been one disaster too many in my recent driving history. I managed to whack the van into reverse and back away from the ford with steam arising from the bonnet. Crisis averted!! Nobody would be any the wiser. I made it back to the depot on that Friday and that completed my two days’ work with that particular firm.
During the day on the above shift my agency rang me to ask if I would be interested in doing van work delivering hygiene and cleaning supplies for a company just down the road from me with a possible view to a permanent job there. I agreed.
I started the job on Monday 16th of January at 7am. I was to deliver things like rubber gloves, toilet rolls, bleach, detergents, cleaning cloths and lots of other hygiene and cleaning supplies to care homes, doctor and dental surgeries, vets and assorted businesses throughout Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. I am still there after nine weeks but there has still been no indication that they want me there full time. I have found the work sufficiently strenuous to get me into better shape but not ridiculously strenuous such as when I worked at Tuffnells for four days then jacked it in!
I've already had a slight mishap at this place but not much was said about it. I had delivered to a care home in the Great Yarmouth area. The car park was full and manoeuvring space at a premium. Whilst trying to reverse I felt some resistance as if my wheel was up against the kerb so I pulled forward made some room for myself and drove away looking at the offending kerb and protruding coach light and wondering if it was that which was impeding me. I thought nothing more of it and continued my route. That was the same week as storm Doris where the van had been hit by many falling branches during the shift. On the Monday morning I turned up for work and one of the other drivers jokingly asked me what had I done to his van. He said there was a dent in the wing. I went out to the yard and looked at it and there was indeed a fair old dent in the nearside wing. I said I knew nothing about it and mentioned that during storm Doris a falling branch or two may had caused it. Nothing more was said until the Wednesday when I turned up and one of the managers told me they'd had an email from the care home where I thought my wheel was up against the kerb with a CCTV film clip showing the van hitting the coach lamp and breaking the glass and also that they were putting in a claim for the damage. That really took the wind out of my sails as up until then I thought it was all going extremely well for me. I thought that more would come of it but three weeks on and no more has been said.
I take extra care when I'm out and about now and apart from some near-misses on country roads with cars flying round blind bends I have managed to avoid any more dramas. I have a feeling they're waiting till after Easter to offer me a job, if at all! So, watch this space.
Take Care Out There