The right number of air con units

I woke up at 7.30. A late start after a late finish, and knowing what was to come.

I left my room at 8.10, with my last pair of socks on and yesterday’s pants inside out. 8.15 key into ignition, banana in hand. 8.30 I was at accreditation having squeezed a yogurt into my mouth. 8.35 on site and parked. I Found Todd’s pick-up truck. “Mate, the diesel light has been flashing for ages.”

I found George. 8.45 and somehow I was back at the accreditation aircraft hangar. I had the truck and George but not enough fuel to get to fuel station. Into the hangar and out with a canister of diesel. “Hold the funnel.” “Oh I didn’t know it was blue!” *grunt*

Glug glug glug. “That’ll do.” “How much did you put in?” “Enough.” George is like 22? He’s about six foot three and could throw me over a house.

Lorenza comes and hands over a Coutts business card. I already know the password.

Into the truck and out onto familiar roads to Tamoil. Filling the diesel properly and I’ve got George with me. “Can you go in and order me an espresso?” Fuel cap back on. Down the espresso. Nice to have a van mate. “That stuff will kill you.” Or is it? Pay. Off to Tecnomat. An hour passes. Arrival. Rushing in. Photographs.

None of them will do. Off across town. Another shop. Photographs of different air con units. A WhatsApp ping: “That one.” My phone rings. Can I pick up a broadcaster? Not really. I explain my timings. They agree.

I load up four units and negotiate a discount. They are bigger units than the ones we’ve been using. I take them to the counter and I’m about to pay. Ping. “3 of these will do plz” I haven’t paid so I take one off. Better for the environment and the power situation, I think. Must be cos they’re bigger units. The rest get paid for. George earns his crust hoiking them into the van. Back to site. George falls asleep. I put on the cricket. England win again while I’m listening. Ping. “Can you get some hand sanitiser and baby wipes for command centre?” I stop at the Chinese place. They have it all.

Unload. Another hour and a half. Lunch while finding out what I’m doing tomorrow. Move some fans around. Grab the diesel cans, chuck them in the car, spin up to Tamoil, refill, go to hotel, get laundry, go to launderette, start cycle, back to site. Unload cans. Go down, get 5 ped and two stands, bring them up to the hangar in a pick-up. Swap to the fiat and back to Cagliari post haste. Before I’m there the phone rings. Marek landed early and cleared security immediately. Fuck. I spin into the short stay and find him by tooting my horn. We go back carefully over the hills. I’d normally take him the smoother slower way but fuck it, the hills are pretty at this time of the evening. I just drive him slowly. I drop him off. *Ping* 16mm hole washers. 150 of them. Straight out to Carbonia. None of the hardware stores have them. Tecnomat closes in an hour and it’s 46 minutes away. I floor it, flying down the straight roads from Carbonia. Definitely the emergency route, this one, if needed.

Tecnomat have 17mm hole washers. They’ll have to do. The same person who confirmed the air con confirms this. Box of 300. I rush to the airport to find the flight I’m meeting is delayed. I stop for a moment. I shake out rocks that have been in my boots for hours without me having had time to shake them out. I breathe out. Vodafone guy clears security.

He and I go through the southern hills as I’m told I have to drop him off in Teulada. Then when I’m halfway there I’m told to take him to the hotel instead so drive straight through Teulada and another twenty minutes just so somebody else can take him back twenty minutes. I go to the launderette. Thankfully my wet clothes are still there. I go and hang them up ignoring the lads drinking. By now it’s about eleven at night.

I sit with some of the lads to end the day. “I think we might have accidentally bought some Italians at auction,” says one of them, about some sort of incomprehensible Italian bingo game that’s going on next to us. “What are you gonna do with them?” I say, offering to join the banter “I dunno, maybe get them to buy the right number of air con units,” says Joe. This sounds pointed.

Nice little Joe who I said I was surprised got punched the other night. I don’t really know what to do with this so I say nothing. Joe repeats it, literally soliciting for laughs from those around him. I didn’t socially integrate well in Saudi. He wants it to stay that way it seems. I’m too tired to play. Todd takes any sting out. “Yeah, apparently you were supposed to buy four and you bought three?” I literally can’t be bothered with his shit. I show Todd the WhatsApp telling me to get 3 of the more powerful units. I don’t even bother showing it to Joe. “This is just one hand not talking to the other,” I say to Todd. He’s a good heart. Kindness is important.

I didn’t take any photos, so here’s the text I can’t be bothered to show Joe.

We were all young once.

It’s just lads lads lads being lads lads lads. This is the first time I’ve felt squeezed out on this job, frankly. And I’m probably just tired.

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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