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In the spirit of CROSSHIRE We are inviting a number of experienced hirers to contribute our final page column.


Jackhammer kicks off our new series, and next issue, watch out as Paddy’s Motorbike races in with his opinions.


MORNING CALLS


You can tell winter’s only just around the corner when the mornings require artificial light to help you make the first cup of coffee of the day, you have to scrape the ice from the car with an old CD case, and the drive into work is made fraught by the people who forgot they’ve got the full beam on - or, because there was some low level mist hanging over the local park, they insist on having all their fog lights on.


Then, when you finally get in, it’s that second dreaded phone call - not the first one, because that’s a given: the Monday morning sick call to say, “I won’t be in today boss because I’ve been up all night ill.” Yeah, yeah, you think to yourself; more like repetitive strain injury from sitting at the PlayStation all night because FIFA 17 just came out over the weekend.


No, it’s that call you get after you’ve just got the first customer loaded and away - and we all know that chap, who always turns up at 7am even though you don’t open until 7.30, and hasn’t booked anything because he forgot to call on Friday. And he usually wants the machine that’s right at the back of the depot…


So you pick up the phone and there’s a crackly line with a guy at the other end who sounds like he’s in a goldfish bowl. After you cheerily say, “Good morning, the hire shop, how can we help?” in your best telephone voice with your throat beginning to dry, you hear, “Is that you Dave?” You recognise who it is straight away and reply as usual, through gritted teeth, “No it’s -”, but before you can answer, the caller goes on: “Dave, my generator won’t start and I got people here standing around not doing anything, costing me money,” knowing full well they’re all there with teas and coffees in hand, huddled up in the canteen around a cabinet heater, chatting about the weekend.


“Have you tried jump starting it?” you say, in as calm a voice as you can muster, but all you hear is a series of high-pitched beeps from the end of the line, as either the caller’s battery has gone dead because he’s forgotten to charge his mobile, or the signal has been lost. You try in vain to contact him, but all you get is the mysteriously attractive woman’s voice saying, “Welcome to the voicemail answering service.”


It’s at this point you feel like the fifth emergency service (the Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade make up the first three, followed closely by the AA/RAC, and then us). When faced with a situation like this, I invariably say, “Saddle up, Nev, you’ve got a breakdown.” Now, Nev is one of those age-old chaps we’ve all got and who we all need. He can get a machine going in any dire situation. He’s not officially trained, but he has developed over long years of service the skills required to get you out of a hole. So off he duly trots with jump leads and a spare battery in hand, plus the workshop’s favourite screwdriver and adjustable spanner.


Once the initial rush has cooled down and I’ve handled the second wave of panic hires, Nev has returned to the warmth of the workshop, and the chaps on site have been given up-to-date instructions on turning the ignition to the ‘off’ position! I finally get around to the second coffee of the day, and I think to myself, why are my thumbs aching so much?


Then, I remember that the Hammers are top of the table with 14 games played and, that great signing Mauro Zarate has scored 23 goals since coming back from injury. That FIFA 17 sure is addictive.


64


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