Archive for March, 2016

Ten Years a Charitable Pro!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016


This post is to celebrate; no I would be too kind to call it a celebration, to commemorate then?  Not really…to put it in a nutshell, I’m taking stock of 10 years working part-time for a well known car/commercial vehicle rental/leasing company. That’s a mouthful in itself. The pay is derisory, the working environment is sometimes dangerous and often claustrophobic, and patronized by a meager 25 cent an hour raise once in a blue moon. We receive no benefits, but have some consolation in taking a small slice of the Company’s profits.

But wait, I have visited several exotics places during the course of many a working week: Athens, Rome, Macedonia, Cabbage Town, In Between, and Ducktown, all of which can be found in Georgia, USA. I am usually the chase car driver whose job it is to pick up fellow drivers following vehicle deliveries to customers.

There are normally 12-14 drivers on the payroll at any given time, but 41 individuals have passed through the system during my tenure. Most of them had successful careers in following other pursuits. Many of them were sales executives, one or two were teachers, a printer, a chemist, banker, lawyer, engineer, art dealer, musician and yours truly a town planner. It is certainly a diverse mix, and several characters have emerged over the years.


Who can forget Dennis with his appropriate phrase for every occasion? Several times senior management had the temerity to call us the face of the Company; to which Dennis replied: “If we were the face of the Company, I’d shave my butt and walk backwards!”

His response in missing out on a 25 cent raise was to lament: “we are lower than whale crap on the bottom of the ocean!” At the end of the day and 4-6 sweaty, weary, men have shared the inside of a mini van for 8 hours, he was heard to say on exiting the vehicle: “it smells worse than the Morehouse Track Team in a goat barn!” Dylan Thomas eat your heart out.

Quinton was the wrinkliest  man I have ever laid eyes on. I swear he appeared in Benny Hill sketches as the little bald old man who Benny frequently tapped on the head. He was at least seventy years old, married and divorced three times, living back home with his aged mother. She insisted that he was home at 4.00 pm when his dinner was placed on the table without fail. His ambition in his twilight ears was to do as little as possible which he achieved without breaking sweat.

Heckle and Jekyll, aka John and Ronnie could start a fight in a phone box. Ronnie would supply the bullets and John readily fired them; mostly at me. They would regularly sit together in the middle row  of the mini van taking umbrage with the unsuitability of a route, a lunch destination or the rising cost of belly pork.

Tony was a giant of a man standing a little over 6′ 7” and weighing in at a princely 300 pounds. There were many vehicles he couldn’t drive because his frame couldn’t fit into them.  He also had a penchant for consuming 2-3 hard boiled eggs as a mid-morning snack within the friendly confines of the mini-van which became an unfortunate ritual for fellow passengers. Tony and I were once deployed to pick up a vehicle 200 miles away in Knoxville, Tennessee only to be informed on arrival that the vehicle didn’t exist. That was not quite true because the vehicle eventually surfaced in Charlotte, North Carolina; thanks to the investigative efforts of a retired FBI agent!!!

PhoneDumpJuly2015 311

Driving the chase car requires physical resilience as well as mental fortitude. One of our drivers was at the wheel of a pick up truck which he was delivering to a customer when he rear ended me  attempting to  exit a gas station. Ronnie once fell asleep at the wheel of a car, crashed into the safety barrier; converting his vehicle into a heap of scrap metal. Luckily, he escaped with a few cuts and minor bruises.

Some of our trips have taken unexpected twists. Terry and I were transporting a car down to Savannah one day, and we left Atlanta before daylight to get an early start. Terry was following me in the customer’s car or so I believed. When the sun came up there was no sign of Terry. It was a case of mistaken identity because he followed another car, which he assumed to be me, off the highway into an office park and ended up down a blind alley while I was merrily cruising down the interstate.

Bob and I were driving a convertible to a customer and we eagerly put the roof down to let the wind blow through the few strands of hair I have left. We were nearing the customer location and reluctantly agreed it was time to return the roof  to its prone position. Unfortunately we couldn’t locate the mechanism to close the roof. Actually, that’s not strictly true since we managed to get the roof into a vertical position. Luckily the manual eventually came to our rescue.

Quik Trip is one of our favorite gas stations for fueling and coffee, but one incident almost led to a lifetime ban. Joe likes a dollop of whipping cream on his coffee and approached the dispenser with eager anticipation. He sometimes underestimates his own strength and inexplicably pulled the lever from the machine. A stream of whipped cream hit a startled Joe in the chest and then erupted like Mount Vesuvius. I was reduced to tears of laughter while employees were running around like headless chickens desperate to stop the flow of the stream of cream.

George, accompanied by four other drivers, was driving the chase car  to South Georgia to pick up some lease turn-ins. We were between Albany and Neverland when the red light appeared on the dashboard indicating a shortage of fuel. George continued to drive claiming it was merely a warning and there was a good 30 miles of fuel left in the tank. Two minutes later, the chase car ground to a halt with not a gas station in sight. I grabbed a gas can and began walking angrily down the highway in pursuit of fuel. Fortunately, a sympathetic motorist stopped and gave me a ride to the gas station located four or five miles down the road, and mercifully brought me back to the chase car and four grateful associates; one with egg all over his face!

Why do I stay in a job for 10 years that’s high risk, low pay, questionable working conditions and no prospects? Originally, I was staying for a few weeks while I carved out a new career in real estate appraisal, until a lady in red shoes put paid to that. I then  realized the Company is very lenient with us taking time off. Flexibility is the key. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a day or a month; you can go and do your own thing, and you don’t have to work weekends.

I have made some good friends, visited places in Georgia I may otherwise never have seen, and earned a few dollars to waste on my golf game. Life is good.






Beware the Ides of March

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Swansea City were very lucky to beat Arsenal at the Emirates yesterday. Arsenal hit the woodwork three times when it was easier to score, and there was a blatant foul on an Arsenal player prior to the Swans’ equalizer. Having said that, they managed to come back from a goal down and clinch the game with two goals in either half. Scoring more than one goal in a game hasn’t been easy for the Swans this season.

They made six changes from Sunday’s defeat against Spurs which suggested they were resting players for the key clash against fellow strugglers Norwich on Saturday. In fact, the next three games could define their season. They play Bournemouth away the following week and Aston Villa at home on 19th March. Bournemouth are one place above them in the table while Villa are languishing in bottom place. They are “must win” games for the club, and if by some good fortune (not to mention an element of luck) they achieved results in all three games, they would secure their place in the Premiership for another season.

Games against fellow strugglers can also be “trap” games. They are the fixtures the team is expected to win, and the pressure  to secure three points is enormous. Norwich, for example , held league leaders Leicester City for 89 minutes on Saturday until a late goal from Leicester’s substitute bagged the three points.

The Swans win was not without further drama. Manager Francesco Guidolin was taken to hospital on the morning of the match with a lung infection, and Alan Curtis stepped into the breach as caretaker yet again.  Guidolin had selected the team, but Curtis changed the system  when they went a goal down, and made key substitutions at half time to secure a victory. It’s more than likely that Curtis will be in charge for Saturday’s crucial six pointer.

The Swans have 10 games remaining, but it would be rather futile to look too far ahead at the games you deem winnable. There are no easy games at this stage of the season. The top six teams are vying for places in the Champions League while the cellar teams are fighting for survival. Mid-table teams have the luxury of having nothing to lose and can play in a relaxed atmosphere. They also have the incentive of finishing as high as possible to receive more of a pay out from the distribution of money at the end of the season.

Alan Curtis now has a selection problem for Saturday which is welcome news for a change. Some of the performances at Arsenal by younger players called up to rest first team regulars was a revelation. Jay Fulton and Steven Kingsley grabbed their chances with open arms, and shouldn’t be overlooked for Saturday’s encounter.

However, we are Swans and not ostriches sticking our heads in the sand. The current squad is not up to Premiership standard, and securing a  seat at the Premiership table for next season will not be easy. It’s going to be an agonizing grind for long suffering supporters, including those anxiously biting their nails to the quick 4000 miles away.

It would settle the nerves a wee bit if we could take 7pts from the next three games which would give us all a reasonably comfortable Easter. Nevertheless, beware the Ides of March!