2005-08-06 : Whose bright bloody idea was this?!

It's now 10:45 on Saturday morning, and in an hour and a quarter I'm going over the side of a building.

I've been asked several times if I've abseiled before, and of course coming from a fairly intense Scouting background I've done a reasonable bit of the ol' abseiling. The trouble is, the last time I did it I think I was 17, and back then I was doing 5 super circuits and 3 gym sessions a week, and I was riding a pushbike everywhere as my main means of transport.

The game's changed a little since then…

So no, I'm not nervous at *all* !

Congrats by the way to James and Karen, whose baby finally emerged yesterday – it's a boy !

And now, to close – seeing as I can barely concentrate to string 2 words together, I'm going to include a story from Wazza. Wazza's just moved to Belgium with work, and his experiences with a moving company were somehow triggered by my recounting of the enthusiasm I show for banks.

Weeks ago, while at work, I got a call, in some foreign language. What I could figure out was that my boxes had arrived from London. Huzzah I shout, and what time are you delivering them?

{The soon to be known as Muppets): “We're outside your flat now, can you let us in?”

Me: I'm at work, out by the airport.

TSTBKAM: Really, well, we're outside your flat now, can you let us in?

Me: The airport is miles away, you should have told me you were delivering today

TSTBKAM: The thing is, we're outside your flat now, can you let us in?

Me: (sigh) Right, feckwit, I'll be there after work, come round then.

TSTBKAM: No can do, we have great overtime laws which stop us from ever getting any. Leave early and we'll drop them around

Me: Argh! Ok

So off I trundled to the flat, ready to watch a large burly strongman haul six boxes weighing 30Kg each up four flights of stairs. Or so I thought. Turns out they sent a tiny delivery lady, who I didn't have the heart to watch carry the boxes. Oh, and only two boxes.

Me: Where are the other four boxes?

Muppette: Oh, they're in the warehouse, but they were heavy so I just brought these two.

Me: ….

Me (after I gathered my composure, in as sweet a voice as I could make it): And when will they be here?

Muppette: Dunno

Me: Ah, lovely

So up I went, four flights and many rest stops, with my two boxes. Of course sods law dictated that when I opened the boxes there was lots of things like extension cables and computer manuals, bugger all in the way of old favourites like, oh, I don't know, clothes!

But to be honest, I wasn't that bothered, the sun was shining, I had moved to Brussels, there were bottoms walking around attached to les femmes fantastique, all was fine with the world. Although I did write an email to the movers in London ever-so politely telling them that I wasn't impressed with the fact that nobody told me the boxes were turning up.

A week and a half later I still hadn't heard from TNT (for 'twas they) about the other four boxes. So I phoned London, and asked them to help me find out what the hell was going on. They gave me a reference number, and I looked it up online.

Ah, lovely, as it happens it turned out that for the previous three days they had been to the flat. Only I wasn't there. And the never told me they were on the way. Oh, and they never told me they tried to deliver.

So I never knew. On top of which, after these three failed deliver attempts they had designated my consignment as “Addressee on holiday”, phppphphhtttt????? How did they decide that? Did they do some fecking rune throwing or gaze at the stars? He's never here, at his flat, during work hours. What could that mean? Ah, he must be on holiday!

Right, ever so narked, I phoned up and asked what the screaming Jimmy Carter was going on? The lady on the other end was rather taken aback, never before having been subjected the such an invocation of the ex-Pres. Right, oh, look, she said, you've got a delivery set for Monday (it was tuesday)

Me: Can I have it earlier? There's a bank holiday on thursday, I'll pick the stuff up then.

Muppette (2): No, we don't deliver on Bank Holidays.


Muppette (2): Ok.

Me: What time?

Muppette (2): We can't say. it'll be sometime during normal office hours.

Me: So I'm supposed to sit in my flat from 9 until 6, on the off chance someone will come by with my boxes, at some point convenient for the driver, but not for me?

Muppette (2, who at this stage was beginning to realise that she has just said the wrong thing): Well, if you phone on friday morning then we should be able to give you a better time estimate.

Right, so there we are, I worked the bank holiday (y'see, it's not that fecking hard) in order to take the Friday off. Nice, I thought. I can chill out, do some cafe sitting, people watching… all I have to do is phone TNT and ask what time the delivery is likely to happen at. So I did, and yet another girl who quickly wished she never picked up the phone managed to promise me that the deliver would be between 12 and 2.

Right, spot of brekkie, little walk around, back to the flat for 11am, (I didn't trust them) and settled down with series 2 of “24” to while away the time.

I should take time during this lull in the proceedings to mention that I don't have my name on the buzzer outside, in fact I don't even know which buzzer is mine. This meant everytime something that sounded like a truck stopped on the street I was on my feet and peering over the balcony to see if it was my delivery. This went on for the duration of the allotted 12 – 2 time period. And until 3pm as well.

At this point I'd been in the flat for 4 hours, pogo-ing from couch to balcony until my legs were masculine yet shapely.

So I called, yet again, those wonderful people at TNT. This time I got a guy on the phone. Things were looking up at this point, I'm much happier to complain if it's a guy on the other end.

Muppet: Right, it says here, that it's already been delivered two weeks ago.

Me: only two boxes, I'm still waiting for four (while suppressing the urge to say “do keep up”)

Muppet: Oh right, so when are the others arriving?

Me: I'm asking the questions, Bud. I was told I'd have them between 12 and 2

Muppet: No, we don't make those promises, no one here could have told you that.

Me: I've been in this flat for 4 hours, it's my day off, I'm not happy.

Muppet: Well, it says here that attempts have been made to deliver to you already.

Me: Attempts I was never given warning about and never knew were made

Muppet: Ah, but we have tried to deliver, and now we may have to provide you with a special delivery as this is your only day that you can definitely take posession of the boxes.We of course, will charge you for this.

At this point, everything gets a little fuzzy. Owing to the rush of blood to my head I can't really remember much of it. All I do know is that at some point I was yelling down the phone something about “not paying one single Euro because of your ineptidute and incompetence” and getting what is technically known as “heftily fecked off” The poor muppet, he never stood a chance. At one point I think he may have said something to placate me, but it was drowned in the waves of abuse, stemming from a 4 hour pogo session and certain knowledge that, should the boxes arrive it meant carrying 120Kg by myself up four flights. In order to cover his tracks, he also, once I'd stopped, reiterated again that he was sorry, he perfectly understood my frustration, and that he just wanted to make sure that I understood that I might be charged some more money. Stupid boy… another five minutes of abuse followed. Some of it was quite good, I remember, I just can't remember what I said.

Said he'd call me back (quickly realising that what I needed was some time to calm down) This was a dangerous plan. I could have calmed down, but it was also possible that I was going to stew in the flat, building up yet more pressure.

Muppet: Right, I know where your boxes are.

Me (warily, I'm wise now…): Where?

Muppet: They're in our warehouse!

Me: So, there were never in a van, at all, today?

Muppet (realisation dawning, mentally picturing a psychotic irishman with a pogo stick and very definite ideas about where he was about to insert it): Ah, but the good news is that I can have it sent out to you right away

Me: …………………………………………..good

Muppet: It will be there sometime before 8pm!


Muppet: But it's ok, it might get there before that, anytime after 4.30 in fact.

Me: You mean to say, that I have yet another 3 and a half hour window in which my boxes might turn up?

Muppet (just not getting it) Yes!

Me: It's 4pm now. I've been in this flat since 11am, and I may have to stay here until 8pm.

Muppet (oblivious) At the latest!

Me (weary, tired and worn): Are the boxes definitely coming?

Muppet: Ye…

I got my boxes. After 7pm, which is a time they had told me they don't deliver at. And it meant I didn't have to work during the bank holiday.

And thus ends the saga of the boxes. Don't ever use TNT.