First day driving

8.00 am. The phone rings. I’m dressed, with keys and satnav holder in hand, waiting for it. “Enterprise?” I say. “Hi, yes it’s Dawn from Enterprise Rent-a-car. Your car will be with you in half an hour.” Shit. It’s supposed to be with me now.

8.19 am. Text from unit. “Please tell me you have your car…”

8.25 am. Car arrives. Traffic warden is eyeing it avariciously as will be parked illegally in five minutes. We have admin to do.

8.26 am. Phone rings. Same person that texted me before. I’m being shown the car. I miss the call.

8.28 am I notice and ring back. The guy at Enterprise can’t operate his machine. I think it might be his first day. “I’ll be with you for 9 or just after,” I tell her. He’s faffing.

The car only has a quarter tank in it. Marginally less. “Return it with the same amount.” He says. There are many words he has to say. They’ve sent the new guy. He says all the words. I’m just pissed off about the fuel as I’ll have to get to a station which I shouldn’t really do with passengers. Months of people letting the needle slip back a tiny bit on return.

Thankfully I do get to unit base for 9 but there’s no stopping. Three people bundle into my car. They want to go and look at Heathrow Terminal 2. Then they want to look at Heathrow Terminal 3. Then Terminal 5. I can do that with my limited fuel. Off we go.

Heathrow is a horrible place to be driving at the best of times. I was going round in circles for ages as they don’t let you stop, or they try to trap you in car parks that cost £4.20 to drive through.

Eventually back through unexpectedly heavy traffic to a roundabout near my flat. Everybody goes for coffee and loo while I drive an endless loop around a building site knowing I need to be where they last saw me as my phone is almost empty.

Then, horror of horrors, to Piccadilly Circus. They’ve all gone to the loo and had coffee by this stage. I’m trying to be the unnoticeable robot driver but there’s two problems. 1 : My charging cable died without my notice last night and so my phone took no charge. It has run out completely and they’ll need to communicate with me about pick-up. 2: I’m desperate for the loo, I haven’t stopped for hours, and I’m in Piccadilly Circus. The roads round here are tiny and filled with vans. There is no parking.

After they get out, I end up in an expensive NCP on Poland Street or thereabouts, and I run out to buy a charging cable. Back to the car to put some charge in and find they’ve gone on lunch. Breathe out. And relax.

I like this work but I’d forgotten. Driving through London with time pressure is no fun. When I finally stopped for the first time at about 13.30 my legs were jittering and my left calf was stretched from clutch action. I had just driven 5 hours non stop in a completely unfamiliar car. Traffic was BAD in London today. Unfamiliarly so. Still, we got it done and back to base with 22 miles left on the fuel range. They got out the door and I got myself to the garage and filled up. Then straight to Kensington Town Hall to sort a residents permit, and fuck me if they don’t make it as hard as they possibly can even though I’ve got a load of these permits in my account history and incontrovertibly live in the borough. Sorted though and it’ll save a fortune in parking charges. Back to the hotel to check on what they need. Just staff. Home.

I’m ready for tomorrow now. New charging cable, full tank of gas and I’ve had enough time with the car now to switch off the fucking child locks and patch my phone in too. Not enough yet to switch off the oversensitive radar or work out how to set the Aircon properly but all things in their right time.

Off to bed now as it’s another likely to be another long one tomorrow. I think with time I’ll grow to love my little Nissan… I just need some alone-time. And the chance for a loo break.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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