Tired of hearing about idiot things I've done?
OK, one more.
In today's episode, I embark on the path to world domination by testing the feasibility of starting my own land-based navy by turning a normal everyday people carrier and a laser printer into a submarine hunting death-dealer.
Some time ago, I worked for a certain West-Midlands based builders' merchant - who shall remain nameless, but according to their radio adverts, They're 'Where the Trade go'. My job with them, amongst other things, involved the upgrading of the IT at their stores around the UK.
The senior management, in their infinite wisdom had decided that the IT team didn't, at the time, require the use of a van and we were expected to use our own vehicles to transport the equipment to site - The inventory for a single store usually comprised half a dozen tills, cash drawers etc, half a dozen PCs with all their associated doo-dads and gee-gaws - and a number of laser printers.
Now, at the time, I had a Ford Galaxy people carrier, which was nicknamed by all and sundry as 'The Van' - My boss would often say things like;
'Vet, grab a couple of printers, stick 'em in the van and toddle off to install them at <insert store name>.'
(The reason I got called Vet may, or may not, be covered in a later installment.)
So, I became the go-to guy for country-wide 'humping and dumping', which I didn't really mind as I got paid mileage, and it got me out of the office, often for days at a time. On this particular day, the first day of land trials for The Chimping Navy, I'd been tasked with delivering some kit to the Reading store, this was just a quick jaunt down the M40, a couple of hours there, a couple of hours eating a fry-up and fiddling about in the store and then a couple of hours back - Simples!
The only jam in the DVD player was that it was raining, not heavily, but wet enough for you to not want to stand out in it, well unless you were a particularly statuesque young lady in a thin, white top. Now, as many of you that have owned a Ford Galaxy will know, they have a couple of little design faults. Firstly, the 'Brain' that controls the central door locks sits in a little cutout, under the carpet, in the passenger-side footwell. Secondly, when it rains heavily, the passenger footwell floods. Either of these problems, on their own, aren't show-stoppers - But taken as a pair... Well, you can imagine the constant hilarity.
I set off down the M40 with a spring in my.. erm... step and a song in my heart. Everything was right with the world and the rain was just heavy enough that constant wipe was too much, but intermittant wipe was not enough - I have since realised that the car had variable wash/wipe - But at the time I couldn't be bothered to read the manual. Around halfway down the motorway, I noticed that the footwell was filling with water - I made a mental note to drill some holes in the floor when I got home, I was getting pretty bored with the carpet smelling like a rancid Afghan (That's the breed of dog, not someone from Afghanistan - I have no idea what these wonderful and ancient people smell like when they go off).
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a flashing light on the dashboard. Looking over, it turned out to be the 'Your boot is open' warning light - It wasn't doing the whole 'You're running out of petrol' type flash that you get from your petrol guage, it was more a sort of 'Now it's on, now it's off, no, on, I mean off,' jittery type of thing. I had just enough time to think,
'Hmmm... that's odd!'
When the boot flew open - and one of the Dell laser printers I was carrying, transformed, Bumblebee-like, into a depth charge. Now, I don't know how many of you have ever thrown electrical equipment out of the back of a moving vehicle at 70Mph, but it makes a bloody great noise.
As the scene unfolded in slow motion in the rear view mirror, I saw the printer hit the tarmac and bounce, it then started to spin, and hit again. This time it disintegrated, seriously, there wasn't a piece bigger than my thumb left at the end. The look on the face of the lorry-driver behind me was a picture - He did his best to avoid the wreckage, but he still managed to run over the toner cartridge - Hooo boy, that made a mess. But I had other things to worry about, I was hemorrhaging paperwork all over the rainy motorway, and my boot was still open. I pulled onto the hard shoulder, got out, and slammed the boot shut. I almost missed the feint *click* of the central-locking, but my worst fears were confirmed when I tried to open the door... Locked. With the keys AND my phone inside.
I cursed my choice of wearing a thin, white shirt to work that day and started to walk the half-mile back to the emergency road-side telephone in the suddenly heavier rain. I explained to the nice lady on the phone that 'there was some debris' on the road and that I needed a locksmith, she told me that she'd dispatch someone to take care of the mess, but I was on my own as far as being stranded was concerned.
It took them a good half an hour to arrive, by which time I was wetter than a geriatric dolphin's nappy. They gave me a bit of a talking to about messing up their motorway, and how my employer would get a bill, but they thought that I, personally, had suffered enough and they'd see if there was anything they could do to get me back in my car.
The big chap in the waterproof Hi-Vis walked over to my car, pulled the doorhandle, and the door opened.
'Seems OK to me.' He said, with not a hint of a laugh in his voice at all. 'Want me to close it and try again?'
'NO!' I shouted, possible slightly louder than was strictly necessary.
I thanked him, and wondered how long I'd stood in the rain not trying to get into a car that wasn't actually locked anymore.
Luckily, my face was so wet that they couldn't see my tears as I drove off.