Thursday, 22 October 2015

(Car) Park Life

I do this far less often that I intend to. Stuff gets in the way. There’s probably a certain irony, or a certain something if not irony, about life getting in the way of writing a blog which is essentially about life. Or my life in particular. But there it is. You get up, you go to work, you have a shit day, you come home, you eat, you watch 5% of the programmes you naively recorded thinking you would have time to watch, you go to bed. Life, right there.

Last week was a particular doozy. Outstanding in the field of Shit Weeks. If there is such a field. There is such a field and it is covered, I can tell you, in shit. It all started the previous weekend when Emma went out to the car only to find that the glass was missing from the passenger side wing mirror. We have had this car for less than three weeks. Ordinarily it might be quite difficult to get the glass out of a wing mirror without someone noticing that you are needlessly stealing it, so there is either a thief with a lot of time and patience doing the rounds or it simply fell out. A friend of mine told me that this once happened to his dad’s Ford Focus so it’s possible. Yet this is my second Ford Focus and the first occasion I have been left deficient in the glass department.

So the upshot of all this is that I had to take the car into St Helens Ford on Monday morning when I should have been in work. I had been quoted £46 for a piece of glass over the phone (this includes VAT you’ll be relieved to learn) but in the event they only charged me £33. I don’t know why and I didn’t ask. It’s best not to lest you get a patronising answer. I’m lucky I wasn’t sent on my way with a lollipop and a Mr Bump plaster to boot.

So anyway off I went then to work, arriving in the car park at around 10.45am. I’m normally in around 8.30 so as you can imagine by this time the car park was heavily populated. Handily, there was one disabled space left. I couldn’t believe my luck, truth be told. Normally if I go in late there are no disabled spaces left and I either have to find two free spaces to give myself enough room to get my chair out (Emma’s already caught the train into Liverpool at this point) or, as is more common, I end up driving around and around the one-way system around Tithebarn Street contemplating whether or not I should re-mortgage the house in order to be able to afford to leave it in one of the public car parks nearby. So a free space was a gift, a lollipop and a Mr Bump plaster all rolled into one.

The problem was that there was someone blocking the space. Helpfully, a man working for a Fire and Security firm had parked his car facing the space, but just close enough to it so that I couldn’t get my car past to be able to move into the space. Clearly he was not concerned with all aspects of health & safety. Just those he was paid to worry about. Mortified at the prospect of spending what remained of the morning driving around the one way system I tried anyway. I like to play my music loud enough for people in Hemel Hempstead to hear, so I’m not sure at exactly what point I made contact with a small concrete post just next to the space, but I was first alerted to it by the fact that the car would not roll forward any further. There was almost certainly some damage, which was most infuriating given the positively embryonic stage of life at which the car sat.

I phoned the security desk, which is what I should have done in the first place, and asked them if they would kindly locate the considerate Fire and Security man and get him to shift his heap of shit. Ten minutes or so later he came from behind me (the nearest exit is right in front of where I was parked) and nonchalantly got into his car and moved it without a word of apology. That would come later. I got out of the car to find that, predictably, the car had sustained a small scratch on the driver’s side. Wearily, I consoled myself in the knowledge that Motability have changed the rules so that anything short of setting fire to your car and rolling it over a cliff is now considered to be fair wear and tear, so I’m banking on them not charging me for it. Just like they didn’t with the last one after I suffered a similar incident in a multi-storey car park. I’m not good with car parks, especially when berks park in places which appear to have been carefully designed to prevent the disabled from gaining proper access.

This was the second such incident in the space of a few days by the way, as previously I had been stuck in the very same car park for 45 minutes waiting for someone who had parked illegally and thus blocked me in to move his heap of shit. There’s a lot of shit in this story, you’ll note. He had left a note in the window with both his mobile and his office number on it which would have been most helpful had he been inclined to answer either of them. As it turned out he never did show up until the next morning when it transpired that the car belonged to a colleague that I know quite well and get on perfectly well with. He was at pains to apologise. He apologised so much that I am now able to crow-bar the word ‘profusely’ into this blog, a word which much like ‘aplomb’ is never used in any other context. So anyway…What do you say? You just force a smile and forget about it, don’t you? If I hadn’t been guided out by the security staff (having gone back inside the building to try and get a message to the driver of the offending vehicle) then I might have been there all night and might not have been so good at accepting the apology.

Which I had to do again, as we hurtle forward through time again to end this sorry tale. Having got out of the scratched car following the removal of the Fire and Security van I trundled up to the office. I was about to regale my colleagues (loudly and irritably, no doubt) about the ordeal I had suffered when the driver of the Fire and Security van poked his head out of a door he had been crouched behind and apologised for his errant motoring ways. Turns out he had spent the morning working on the fire alarms in the very office in which I carry out my own mundane contribution to society.

It was awkward. Like David Cameron turning up for the Cabinet’s annual ball to find the main course on a spit amid the distinct whiff of pork.

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