Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Long Way Round

It's slightly after ten in the morning and I've just delivered a Ford Focus to a dealership in Paisley, on the outskirts of Glasgow. I now have to get to Motherwell, on the other side of the city, for my next collection and am trying to work out the quickest way to St James station, about a mile from here. The most direct route is over a patch of wasteland behind the dealership and then through an area called Ferguslie Park.

I ask the receptionist at the dealership who in turn asks a male colleague.

'You don't wannae send him there, it's like the Bronx,' he tells her, and then turns to me to repeat the point -

'You don't wannae go to that station, that whole area's like the Bronx.'

He tells me instead to get a bus from across the road to a different station.

Even in cities with tough reputations it is rare for anyone to say anything like this to me, and there is usually an element of humour in the warning when they do. But this time it is delivered in a rather flat and credible tone.

I'm tired and a long way from home, and I find myself hesitating. Until recently I would have felt emboldened by the fact that I had nothing of any value with me anyway. However, this summer the company I work for underwent a technological overhaul. I no longer complete my vehicle appraisals on paperwork but on an EVA ( a handheld computer ) and then print a receipt out on a small portable printer not much bigger than a housebrick.

The combined cost of this new equipment is just over nine hundred pounds, and in an act of breathtaking miserliness the company have declined to insure it against loss or theft.

Another Birmingham driver recently left his EVA on a train and is still being reminded of his carelessness every week when his wage slip arrives with another deduction taken out towards the full cost of a replacement.

I weigh up the options for a few moments longer and then set off for the bus stop, feeling depressingly sensible.


  1. I did this for a while. It was interesting enough for seeing the country,driving the occasional nice car, chatting with drivers who gave you lifts etc. The problem for me was that it wasn't hourly paid. It was all based on number of deliveries/mileage so I didnt make enough money!I'll always pick up a TP driver if I see one though.

  2. I don't mind the method of payment, the problem is that the rates almost never increase. The company I work for now have only put their mileage rates up twice in about the last fifteen years!