The 'ethereal' figure lurking behind is my long suffering assistant, Jon Botten.
Spirits were high at 9.30am when a transit van arrived.
"They're here", I shouted.
As the van driver opened the door, I saw two highly stacked pallets. "Oh, it's not that bad, it will only take 30 minutes to unload them."
Then the bad news....
"There are two more van loads to come", said the driver.
"Oh, are they following behind...?" I said, trying to hide my dismay.
"Nah, mate. We've only got one van. I have to go back and forward to (insert name of some industrial town in the Thames Gateway I had heard of but never had the joy of visiting). "I will be back in two hours with the next load." Then I will have to do the same journey a third time."
So we waited. And back he came. And we unloaded. And off he went. And we waited. And back he came. And we unloaded. Finally, he had finished.
"Where are the 360,000 envelopes?" I asked, (by this time on my knees and gasping for air).
"Dunno mate, they're not coming from us."
After a few hurried calls to the printer it transpired the envelopes had been erroneously sent to Leeds on the back of a waggon. I hoped they hadn't fallen off the back of it. Fortunately, the driver had spotted the error and was heading back "as we speak".
So we waited.
And we waited.
And we waited.
More calls to the printer. Apparently he was 10 minutes away.
40 minutes later, we were still waiting.
More calls, more apologies... Apparently he was just coming through the Medway Tunnel. I smelled a rat. "If he's coming from Leeds down the M1 and via the M25/M2 - why is he coming from the east of Kent through the Medway Tunnel...?"
Then he arrived. This time, it wasn't a transit van, it was one of those giant HGV things you see on motorways with Eddie Stobbart on the side (for the record, it wasn't an Eddie Stobbart lorry - I understand they are a market leader in logistics).
"How was Leeds?" I asked, trying to hide my anger and sarcasm. "What are you talking about?" said burly driver with clipboard. "Haven't you been half way to Leeds today." "Nah mate, I've just come from Sittingbourne." (This, at least, explained the mystery of his west bound journey through the Medway tunnel.) So when did you actually load up and leave...? "About 45 minutes ago." So when I was told these leaflets were half way to Leeds, where exactly were they? "Sittingbourne". Then he realised he didn't know what excuses (or lies) he was exposing, and he clammed-up.
Now I am not an unreasonable person. I accept mistakes happen, and had the leaflets been sent to Leeds, or had the driver been stuck in Olympic traffic, or had a genuine error been made, I would have been aggrieved, but understanding. But when I am lied to as an excuse to cover poor service, then lied to again and again, I don't like it. Especially as I am spending many thousands of pounds of money donated by volunteers. Had the courier (and I stress this is the error of the courier, not the printing company) actually phoned me at the agreed delivery time of 10am and said there was a delay, I would have accepted the situation. The whole team (we had seven people on standby to help unload) could have gone back to work and returned five hours later. But to hang around a disused cement works at the back end of Snodland for five hours, and be misled, is not an acceptable way for any company to treat its clients.
But that's a fight for another day. I suspect I shall be requesting some form of compensation or discount for the wasted time.
Anyway - we are now in procession of a million leaflets. My thanks to all who came to help unload and stack, especially Cllr John Balcombe from Aylesford. And the passing security guard who patrols the nearby lake to stop errant children drowning, who was also roped-in to help. And John Botten (who, like me, is paid - but still remained cheerful and upbeat regardless). And Mr King from St Mary's Island. And Andrew Mackness and Chris Buckwell. And, of course, our candidate - who (almost) broke into a sweat and who turned up just in time with a pretty blue Ikea trolley - which was as useful as a chocolate teapot as we had to handle each box up a flight of steps. But, Craig, everyone loves a trolley dolly!
|Trolley Dolly to the Rescue|