In the spirit of CROSSHIRE

Eccentric customers and unusual requests are all part of a hard day’s graft for Paddy’s Motorbike.


After speaking with other like-minded hire shops’ personnel, I have come to the conclusion that, as the QI television show host Sandi Toksvig would say, many customers show a ‘general ignorance’. In many people, even a basic understanding of DIY and building work seems to be distinctly lacking, and we come across this virtually every day. Let’s start with the matter of identification. All DIY customers and new tradesmen obviously have to show us suitable ID and make a security deposit when they first hire, which is hardly the most challenging request in the world, you might think. However, to us it’s security but to them it’s a hindrance.

We only ask for two bills or official forms with a current name and address, which for me would be as simple as bringing a couple of the items I receive in the mail most weeks. Yet, with our first-time hirers, we have to listen to excuses like, “I don’t get any bills because they are all on direct debit,” or “It’s all in my wife’s name,” or my favourite which is, “I get them all online now.” It is like me going up to a total stranger and asking them to loan me their brand new £1,000 television for the night, showing them a bus pass and a picture of me in Brighton when I was ten years old, and then looking astonished when they say no.

Everyone gets bills, and no one can say that money is coming out their bank account without them knowing much about it. And if everything really is in their wife’s name, what about car insurance, credit cards and personal bank accounts? Or bring your wife in with her paperwork! If they are stored online, then my plea to them would be to please use your smart phone or iPad and show me your PayPal, Amazon and eBay account for ID. It is really not rocket science.

Also, there have been a lot of builders working next door or across the road recently, and they believe they can just borrow our equipment because of their close proximity to us. Sorry guys: you are not my new neighbour and you don’t live there. If you decided to take our tools, or use them and then put them in your newish van and drive off, we would not have a clue where to find you or how to get our items back.

One of these tradesmen called in for a hire when Satnav, our driver, was on the counter doing his normal routine of printing out pages of routes from Google Maps so that he doesn’t have to use his smartphone and his precious mobile data. The guy wanted a breaker but asked us for the lightest model we offer. Satnav pushed him for a little more information on the job in hand so he could offer the right tool and was informed that he was trying to take up concrete floors! It was suggested that a larger version might be better, since such structures tend to be of thicker concrete, while light breakers are more for use on walls and removing rendering or tiles, but our Bob the Builder insisted on the light breaker “because I can manage it better.”

Satnav, not wanting to carry on banging his head against a brick wall himself, hired him the light breaker he requested, but after 30 minutes Bob was back asking to swap it for something heavier and moaning that the job was going too slowly. Seriously, if brains were dynamite then this guy would have trouble blowing his nose.

In the afternoon, I was serving a woman who wanted a floor sander. While making conversation she said she had recently moved into the area with her new job. I was very interested and asked her what job she was doing. However, she misunderstood and replied that she was sanding two bedrooms and the hall.

Later that day, young Hercules was on the hire counter helping someone enquiring about a large rotavator. The customer asked what would happen if it rained when he was using the machine? Hercules replied instantly with, “Well, you would get wet.” Like I said, it’s really not rocket science.


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