Last week was pretty steady. I was allocated to number two runs which means running out light and coming back empty – the number one driver takes most of the goods, and brings back the empties.
Due to the start time no firms would be open for doing backhauls so it was job and off apart from the horrors of Tuesday.
Monday was a double load, first to Peterlee and then to Bishop Auckland. I set off up the quiet A1 and across to the virtually dead A19 into Peterlee. There is a bar just around the corner from the shop. As I pull in there are cops everywhere. One of them is collecting evidence and putting things into a bag. Nice, I guess it’s the results of a chirpy Monday night assault.
The tip is onto a bay and I unload a grand total of seven cages and then head over to Bishop Aukland. They’re not over impressed to see me as the first driver has snowed them under but they’re always friendly up there and we have a laugh about it. I unload some very heavy pallets and soon am running for home. It’s nearly break time and I’m shattered so I break one of my own rules and sleep in a layby on the side of the road of death, the A1. Nothing hits me. Joy!
Tuesday is a very poor night indeed. There’s no work to go out and four of us drivers are sitting about in the canteen, very bored. We’re summoned by a stoney faced boss and ordered to follow him to the warehouse. I thought I was going to get double-decker training but no, I have to work in the fucking warehouse all night.
I hate warehouse work, it’s soul-destroying. We load cages onto the back of wagons all night. I’m watching the clock the whole time and it’s going very slowly. Good luck to the many eastern europeans who do seventy hours in here every week. They get good money for it but they must just be wishing for the day they can return home loaded and get back to their lives. I chat to a friendly young Polish guy I’m working alongside. He says he’s considering getting into driving but when I tell him about the wages coupled with the restrictions on hours his interest wanes. I can see why.
On Wednesday I’m back to the North East with Bishop Aukland and then Gateshead. An uneventful trip apart from the Gateshead yard being full of builders vans making a simple turn around and reverse into a half hour shuntfest. I crash out in Washington Services and crawl home with eyelids dragging on the floor.
Well variety is the spice of life so they say and Thursday sees me taking one trailer to Rochdale, Salford and finally Halifax. Rochdale is a loading bay so very quick and I get to Salford early, even before the number one driver who chugs up behind me after I’ve sat there for ten minutes. We unload my trailer so I can get away quick as soon as the store opens at one a.m. The manageress isn’t happy – we’re not supposed to break the seal until she’s there but as she’s met me before she lets me off and I’m soon on my way to Halifax.
I drive into a dead Halifax at about two a.m. The store doesn’t open until five so I just park up in a residential area, pull the curtains and get some much-needed sleep. The alarm wakes me and I get back in the seat. It’s weird waking up and driving an artic five minutes later but it goes with the job I guess. Getting into the Halifax shop is a real pain – a very tight blindside followed by a very tight sightside (i just made that term up). The manageress whinges to me about what I’m carrying – apparantly it should have been on number one. I shrug. Well what am I supposed to do about it? I just drive it, not load it.
Finally, Friday arrives and is a single run to Stockton-on-Tees. The tip is one of those underground service areas with a tricky blindside around some pillars. Luckily I have rear window so it’s easy enough. I tip then follow the drivers map’s instructions only to find the exit gates securely locked. Thanks for letting me know it’d be shut at night! I take ten minutes of shunting back and forward to turn the thing around and escape back out of the “no exit” and I shoot home, drop the trailer, jump in my van and am home by six a.m.
Time for a beer…