Magazine road

After a while, the company left the country. Pulled out, reversed its financial boat and went full throttle over the waves of escape from the doomed Irish market. This is how I see them, on a yacht, or a ship, or some kind of super commercial freighter with a scrawny European name and a bright flag and lads in orange jumpsuits shaking their head at the coast of dreams that became their broke nightmare. They must have been thinking about all that promise and hope they had. Like them two lads that started one day and were going to change everything. Take over the Midlands Campaign, promote the region, grow the book, enlarge the territory, expand the reach. This was big, these guys had serious experience and credentials. This was what we’ve been waiting for. Except one lad couldn’t drive and the other had a fucked up Insignia that he couldn’t afford to fix. But this was ok. Let’s work towards solution based goals. Ideas like: Ask Micky to drive them around, sure isn’t that why we gave him the car, and he’s doing shag all anyway.

            I met them outside the designated hotel in Athlone. Expecting suits, sophisticated tablets, expensive ties and serious aftershave. Clean cut lads with a killer instinct and a desire to win. They struggled around the corner and the first fella had a three day stubble and thick glasses and a bag full of cigarette papers and tobacco and bottled tap water. He had habit of looking at the ground when he talked and explaining everything in rapid detail. The market was quiet. The customers were awkward. The product was poor. The company had such an awful wank of a name that half the public couldn’t even pronounce it. And the management were awful. The weather was dodgy. The walking was killing him. And they wouldn’t pay for buses and trains. And he needed a toilet. And herself at home had his head bushted about the price of schoolbooks and fuck this. The other lad was tall, quiet, black jeans, torn shoes, four kids, and no interest in the job. You could tell by the way he sat on the wall and worked hard scrolling through the phone. Half his day’s wages was already gone between the train down and lunch and it was nearly time to go home and there was no hope of commission, and did I know anyone looking to buy a broke down Insignia?

            This was great, the promised team, the life changing salary, the head hunted prize. The sun was laughing as we went over the speed bumps on Magazine road. Went around by Connaught Street and down O’Connell. Waved at the Romanian lad playing accordion at the roundabout. He was probably making more money than me today. The bridge felt uncertain, like it might break half way across and we’d fall in bonnet first and that’d be the end of the great campaign and sure who’d take over then? No Micky to drive anyone around, and the car in the river, and the two lads drenched wet on the way home on the train and still no sales. Ring ring, went the phone, looking for updates, numbers, progress. How’d you get on with the guys, Mick, exciting times ahead….

Vandalism

She was taking the company van. I was going working somewhere else. Ireland’s best sales team was getting disbanded after a record breaking spell of hitting no targets whatsoever.

She hadn’t much experience driving. As far as I could tell she didn’t even have a right license. There was some version of a government issued Romanian document from back long ago but it was hard to know if it was something to do with being on the road or a gammy dole card from Eastern Europe. Didn’t matter a fuck to the crowd in Dublin. They were too tight to pay for the petrol to have it drove back and they wanted her out selling so it made perfect sense that way. The other minor stuff like insurance, experience, ability or general safety never came into the equation. I gave her the keys and she said: ‘Where is spare tyre?’ 

‘Wha…’ 

‘Tyre. For Spare. Where does this be?’ 

‘I dunno. Why?’ 

‘In case. Flat. Whoosh. Puncture. It’s ok for boy. What about me? Woman. Alone. Dark and no tyre…’ 

‘I had a transit one time and the spare was under the floor at the back. Probably the same with that…’ 

‘Under the floor? Oh my God. How will I take out?’ 

‘You can ring the breakdown….’ 

She laughed, said: ‘These fuckers don’t pay for breakdown. They don’t even pay wages….’ 

She had a point, but I was already gone and finding it hard to get excited. Then she said: ‘I can’t drive manual. I need automatic.’ 

‘You’ll figure it out.’ 

‘And I never drive left side of road. Right only. Romania is right.’ 

‘Oh right.’ 

‘Yes. I will call Tom.’ 

‘Who’s Tom?’ 

‘He is my friend. He will help me with everything.’ 

‘Sound, I’ll go.’ 

I called back a week later. Tom was there. A saintly type with a van full of tools and a desire to help at all costs. They’d had a few driving lessons during the week that didn’t go well. There was talk of a gate getting a smack in Ballymahon and a pillar getting knocked in Moate. There’d been plenty of road range and a few parking confrontations around estates in Tullamore. And still no sign of the spare tyre. But Tom had a plan. The back doors of the van were open like a horrified mouth and Tom was climbing inside with a black and decker drill and tufts of grey hair under his cap and over his ears. ‘Tis down under here, I’d say….’ 

And he started on the screws around the base. Pulling up the timber, tearing it where necessary, announcing progress as he went along. ‘No sign of it yet, anyway…we’ll try another one…’ 

Soon there was hammers, drills, screws and broken bits of timber and stuff like sawdust strewn around everywhere inside and outside. Meanwhile she was up in the cab, tearing up the front seat in case it was under there and she might save Tom the trouble of destroying the van entirely. The screws had an angry growl as the drill caught grip, bit like a big dog when you try to pull a bone from its clenched teeth.  

‘You find?!’ She shouted from the front. 

No… said Tom, but sounding determined. ‘Not yet….’ 

I had a feeling this wouldn’t go down well in Dublin. Maintenance, repairs, destruction, generally having to pay for anything always caused a wide eyed look of wonder and mystery at the audacity of being required to spend money. They might even blame me if they heard I was there looking at them. Shtop.

I’ll keep going, I said. I’ll leave ye at it.  

 

 

 

 

M50 – Last Exit to Tallaght

Things used to be quiet for a while on the M50. There was a time you could make Dublin from Athlone in an hour and you didn’t feel electrocuted. But these days that’s all gone. The change was gradual at first. Busier at Enfield, slower at Lucan, and now it’s all wonderful chaos. That lad with his car on fire last week, and the two women arguing about the Fiesta stuck in the back of the BMW. And then there was your man that overturned the truck full of round bales. It was on the other side, outbound as they say, but it still somehow held up the traffic on the way in for two hours. Think it was from everyone slowing down to look at it and the long line of lads in trapped cars, like monkeys in road zoo cages. Some drivers get creative. Up the Hard Shoulder, skipping in and out of the traffic. I got a bad look and a BEEP! from a woman last week because I pretended I was going to Tallaght and skipped a ball of cars and then pulled back in over the white Zebra bit before you take the exit. Pure thick head on her, she’s probably still up there somewhere, BEEPING! at someone else. Other headers chance the bus lane but I’m still waiting on the NCT, and the new windscreen, and I don’t want to be drawing the guards on me in case. So now it’s WFH in Mayo. Fully remote. Computer, WiFi, kettle going full blast, how’re ya fixed for a bit of peace and quiet compared to the M50?  

But sure it was all go here too. Your man came last week and put down the seeds in the lawn Now there’s crows all over the garden trying to eat them. They’re like a crowd of out of work extras from a Hitchcock film. The oul fella is flat out trying to scare them away. He shouts out the window in a sort of garbled bird dialect, like an angry German dictator trying to order steak in a Shanghai restaurant. The birds don’t give a fuck. They were a bit afraid of the dog at the start but now they just wander around, casually eating what they see, like it’s an all you can eat buffet for birds. Eventually we located a clapper that does what it says on the tin and goes clappety clap clap, like a game of table tennis between two lads on some kinda super cocaine. It had the feeling of a light bell, reminded me of that time John Barnes rang the school bell too early for the craic and we all went back inside and missed half our small break. 33 years later and most of the class are still thick about it.

All up, it might be time to locate that windscreen. The insurance weren’t amenable to a mid policy change, and someone else said to “…try upgrading to Comprehensive…” whatever that is, but no other options besides, except the hard shoulder and a good story if the blue lights come on and they take a good look at the growing concern, like the first signs of ice breaking on a shallow lake, only a matter of time if ya don’t sort it out. Clappety clap clap. BEEEEP!