Sometimes you just have one of those weeks and the penultimate week of August 2014 was certainly one for me. It seemed to be a week of forgetting things, missing out on walks, weird questions and unreasonable, shouty people on the phone. Through it all the beauty of the walks I took get kept me going, along with some progress on my blue shed.
23 August 2014
Wednesday morning didn’t start off too well. At first I thought it had when an unexpected gap in the traffic meant I got across the road sooner than expected and didn’t have to walk all the way down to the traffic lights. Half way down the road I realised I’d left my hi vis jacket behind and my house keys. At this point CJ hadn’t left for work so I dashed back as fast as I could, slightly hampered by not being able to get back across the road. Luckily he was still there but, by this time, I was running late so there was nothing for it but to catch the bus. So much for my walk to work!
Even so, I couldn’t resist a quick stop or two along the river where a mass of wild mustard has sprung up. Although there was a definite chill in the air the sky was spectacular, especially when it was reflected in the water. On the boardwalk, a little duck was started by the sound of my steps and sped off across the river, a shimmering wake spreading out behind him.
There was a box of chocolates in the office, much to my dismay. If they hadn’t been dark chocolate I might have found them easier to resist. This is the problem with working in an office, there always seem to be temptations. This one was a gift from the Big Boss. I’d really rather she hadn’t bothered. Mostly, I resisted. Ok, I had three.
The most interesting query I dealt with all day was a lady who wanted to know if the leather of the bus seats was halal. The answer is still pending because, frankly, no one has a clue. What I want to know is why she’s so concerned, surely she’s not planning on eating them? Other than that it was the usual round of, my bus was late, the driver didn’t smile type things, along with lots of basic journey plans.
The day ended with a lift home from Jess, back from her holiday. This is not good on the exercise front but, after a ten hour shift it is very welcome. Apparently Lewis, who walked home with me last Thursday, has told Jess I’m going to be walking with him on Thursdays from now on rather than having a lift. It seems I have a new walking buddy. He also told her he’d been shocked by how fast I walk. He has long legs like Commando and confided in Jess that he’d expected to have to slow down to walk with me. Turns out he had struggled to keep up. Funny because I thought I was walking slowly.
August seems to be speeding by at a lightening pace and the evenings are slowly drawing in. When Jess dropped me off at the lay-by opposite my house the most beautiful sunset was beginning to get underway. It won’t be long before I’m coming home in the dark.
The sky was a brilliant blue with hardly a cloud on Thursday morning when I walked to work. This time I wasn’t running late so I stood and looked over Cobden Bridge at the deep blue water with just a hint of a ripple from the light breeze. Mind you that breeze was chilly so I didn’t hang around too long.
For some reason I felt cold all day, even though no one else in the office was complaining. I sat, like the Michelin Man, with a long sleeved top, cardigan and fleece shivering. By lunch time a host of clouds had appeared out of nowhere and there wasn’t even a hint of blue to be seen. Most of the enquiries were about prices for back to school travel in September. Summer is almost over and, if the weather is anything to go by, winter is on the way.
My walking buddy bailed at the last minute tonight so I got a lift home with Jess. When I came round the side of the house I noticed Commando had made some progress on the shed. There’s a long way to go but he’s started on the base. Of course I couldn’t resist taking a quick photo for prosperity.
Friday started off cold and slightly damp. No beautiful blue sky walk for me this morning then just a stomp with my padded jacket and hands firmly in pockets. A hat might have been useful but I couldn’t be bothered to go back once I’d realised it was even colder than I’d thought. Cold enough to make my ears burn.
There are green fruits on the lime trees in the desolate park but I miss the sweet smell of the flowers. A lone evening primrose has seeded from somewhere and looks out of place on the raggedy grass. The fence of the demolished TV studio is bright with berries, pyracantha, or fire thorn, viburnam like red beads dusted with white, rose hips, some round, others elongated, blackberries ripening and everywhere haws on the hawthorn. They should look cheerful but they remind me autumn is on the way. Maybe it was just one of those mornings.
Along the boardwalk I met Paddy the bulldog and his owner. Paddy was wearing a shiny new harness covered in bling.
“It was his birthday,” his owner explained sheepishly.
“Happy birthday Paddy,” I said reaching down to stroke his head. Michaelmas daisies have sprung up along the water’s edge but Paddy didn’t want me to stop to take photos so I didn’t.
It really was one of those days. An angry person day. One man was incandescent because he’d not been allowed on a bus with his mobility scooter.
“It’s discrimination,” he screamed.
Even when I explained we would carry out an assessment to make sure his scooter was safe to go on the bus, both for him and the other passengers and then give him a pass, he wasn’t happy.
“Of course it’s safe,” he shouted, “it’s road legal and I drive it better than your ***** drivers.”
Of course he was missing the point. It’s not about how he drives it, it’s about making sure it isn’t too heavy for the ramps and will fit without causing an obstruction to other passengers. Besides, if it’s road legal why does he want to go on the bus? Whatever next, the driver wouldn’t let me take my motorbike on the bus?
There was another man who wouldn’t stop swearing. Three buses had arrived at the same time and, even though he’d only had to wait twenty minutes and he knew the traffic was bad because of an accident he didn’t think it was good enough. He wouldn’t let me speak so I sat in silence while he ranted.
“I want you to write me a letter,” he said. “I don’t want to sit here listening to your bullshit excuses.”
There were more like that but I’m trying not to think about them. Sometimes it’s like being verbally assaulted for ten hours rather than doing a job trying to help people. I’m not sure why people think they have the right to be so aggressive and rude, especially when they’re complaining about drivers doing just that. We were so busy I brought half my fruit home with me and didn’t have time for a lunch break.
Still there was another glorious sunset as I walked towards my house. Better still, when I came around the corner I was met by a wall of blue. Commando has been hard at work on the shed. It isn’t finished yet but huge progress has been made. Finally, something to make me smile.
When I left for work on Saturday Commando was preparing for a short run. Because I had to pick up milk for the office on my way in I took the Cobden Bridge route which takes me, conveniently, past a Tesco Express. Just down the road is the garage with the old petrol pumps outside and, as I passed I spotted an old car parked outside. When I say an old car, it had obviously been lovingly restored and the sparkling blue paintwork echoed the colour of the sky.
Feeling the weight of a four pint carton of milk in my bag I carried on across the bridge and turned along the river towards Horseshoe Bridge. When I heard the unmistakeable sound of runner’s feet hitting pavement behind me I moved aside to give space on the narrow path. Then I heard, “do you want the whole pavement?” and felt a shove as a Lycra clad man sped past. It was Commando.
Walking on with a smile I watched him disappearing into the distance. Occasionally I lost him as he wound round corners or was hidden by parked cars. At one point He ran out into the quiet road and I wondered why. Maybe a car was parked on the pavement too close to the wall? As I got closer to the spot I understood exactly why he’d left the pavement behind. A large black dog was sandwiched between a garden wall and a van watching me. He may have been friendly but, as there was no way of getting past without actually moving him out of the way, I followed Commando’s lead and stepped into the road myself. Back on the pavement a little further along I looked back to make sure he wasn’t following me but he’d gone, goodness knows where.
When I made it to the river I could see Commando, a tiny speck in the distance, running across the Boardwalk. For a while I stood and watched until he turned off through the industrial estate and was lost from view. Ducks were on the pontoon where the fancy boats are moored, basking in the early morning sun. Gulls swooped down, probably to see if there was any bread to be had. It seemed way too nice a day to be stuck in an office but I dragged myself, reluctantly, the last few yards.
Being August Bank Holiday I was hoping for a quiet day where I could work my way through some of the more complicated enquiries. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We were all flat out dealing with holiday travel enquiries and complaints about buses caught up in the Bank Holiday traffic. As it was I didn’t even have time to eat my fruit and lunch was disturbed by a manager escalation call from a man ranting about a service being cut. It’s odd how many people are complaining about this particular service considering my little Matiz could easily contain the average number of passengers actually using it and still have room for their luggage.
The last call of the day came at two minutes to seven. We close at seven. Why do people do that? The lady in question insisted on calling me duck throughout the call. She was unhappy because a lady had refused to fold her pushchair down to make room for her wheelchair. As I explained, there isn’t much the poor driver could have done apart from ask. If the young mother was so ignorant and inconsiderate she refused he could hardly force her. Besides, the lady did get on the bus by folding her wheelchair up and sitting on a seat. The longer she went on the thinner my sympathy wore.
When I finally got home I was confronted by an almost complete shed. Commando had been a busy bee while I was working. With a little help from CJ he’d erected the front of the shed and put the door on. He’d even given the whole thing, including the roof, one coat of paint. Inside it smells of fresh pine. Ok, so we have a blue tarpaulin instead of a roof but it’s getting there.
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