A.J. Walker

writerer

Bite Marks

One of the nicest parts of delivering stuff all over the place is the lovely scenery and nice places I get to see. Also lots of lovely dogs and animals (not cats). Of course though not all dogs are lovely, often due to their owners and the way they are or have been treated. Sometimes they are just doing their job as they see it - guarding the property and/or owner, albeit it over zealously.

I've been quite lucky really as getting bitten by a dog kinda goes with the territory of the job. Whilst we are not paid to take risks we can't hide every time a chihuahua
barks at us. Sometimes the issue can be unforeseen other times all too obvious.

The other day I arrived at a farm and two border collies circled the van whilst I sat in it. One going clockwise, one anticlockwise. Meanwhile a third dog sat impassive, watching. What do you do? You have a delivery to make. Are the dogs going to be okay when you get out of the van? Are they ALL okay or is one a bit of a nutter? You can see these three, are there more around the corner? In the first instance I beeped my horn to see if anyone was about. No one was. Then I tried ringing the customer to see if I could ask them about the dogs. No answer. In the end I risked it with a bit of trepidation. They were okay. Although as soon as I got back in the van two of them tried to bite my rear tyres and it made manoeuvring risky: 'You're parcel's in the shed–beside the run-over dog. Sorry…'

This kinda thing happens every day. I got bitten over a year ago on a hot day when the customer had left his front door open to cool the house. The customer was on the sofa and as I opened the gate I saw him let his dog run out. It ran straight out and bit me on my thigh. He asked if it bit me, whilst I walked around in circles crying out 'It bit me, it bit me. Fuck, it bit me.' – which I thought should have been a giveaway. The man shooed the dog (a border collie) into the house, asked if I was okay and whether I needed any water or antiseptic etc. I said yes please, at which point he realised that he'd closed the door after the dog and of course after being sat on the sofa who wears their keys on them? Yep, he'd locked himself out of the house. I limped away, leaving him to is and sorted wound cleaning in the local co-op car park.

There but for the grace and all that, it could happen every day. But it doesn't. And most dogs are great–If you follow my Twitter feed or Instagram you'll know I regularly put up pics of dogs I see whilst I'm out. I didn't take one today. Yup, I got bit.

It was a strange one. I went up to the house and they didn't use to have a dog (I've delivered there before). The dog was on a long leash (basically the length of the garden) and was sat by the door. I hardly noticed it until I got near the door. The dog (another border collie) lay down disinterested. I knocked on the door. It is sometimes then, when you go to the door, that they do get bothered - protecting their entrance and all that - but no, the dog remained disinterested. The customer came to the door. I chatted with him. The dog stayed lying down. I even said I'd managed to get past his guard dog and he laughed. It was sometime after this that the dog darted up (perhaps he was offended by my 'guard dog' jibe) and bashed into my knee. It came out of nowhere, the speed was rapid. I swore a bit and felt my knee bashed and bitten. As it happened he'd at least gone high enough that it went through my shorts, which would have afforded a little protection. Only one tooth got through and pierced the skin. It could have been worse - there was no clamping of jaws! The customer had only had the dog three weeks, it was a rescue dog and they were 'just getting to know it' – I guess they learned a little more today. All I got for my troubles was a baby wipe to clean the wound and a bit shook up.

Needless to say for the rest of the day when this happens you remain a bit more concerned around dogs than you are normally. At one farm a dog which does have an attitude was being a bit too close at one point - I'd mentioned the incident to the farmer and he said the only one he worries about if that one - it then snapped at my arse. I could feel the nose against me. Luckily the teeth missed thought they gnashing together audibly. The farmer shouted at the dog. Personally I think maybe if he worries about it, then maybe he should, at the very least, hold on to him whilst visitors are there doing him a favour! No? In future I will bring the parcel into the front at this farm and stay in the van.

Then on my last delivery a house with an open door. When I was half way up the garden a black dog came careering down the stairs outside and straight at me. I used the parcel as a defence between me and his snarling mouth before backing out of the gate. I'm not sure whether that one was going to bite me or not. But I wasn't going to take a chance. The woman said 'don't worry he doesn't bite' but they all say that before they follow up with 'well, he hasn't done that before' or 'it's the hi-vis' (not sure how they see that from upstairs).

Hopefully I won't get bitten for another year - or, even better, ever again. Maybe #DailyDeliveryDog will be back tomorrow. Fingers crossed (whilst I still have all ten of them).
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A Saturday of Some Limited Successes

The sunshine in the north west has continued solid for a couple of weeks now and yesterday was not to prove an exception. I was down for working but had one overdue issue; the courier's bane: balding edged front tyres from all those damn curbs we climb up on. It had got to a point which was borderline a potential losing argument about legality. After failing to get them sorted on Tuesday I finally got it booked in for yesterday (doing about a thousand miles a week tyre issues can quickly change from borderline to "what rubber?") This meant an increased likelihood of yet another unwanted day off, but better a few quid down that a £1000 and 6pts on the licence.

At least it meant I had the chance to take a walk in the early morning sunshine and go get a breakfast, albeit in a County Road kind of way. I had a piece of writing I wanted to work on for a competition Owl Canyon Press were running. The closing date was yesterday and I had been working a little on it on and off over a couple of weeks. Needless to say that I was only half way through but if I had to take the day off I could at least work on it and get something submitted however rushed.

Two phone calls later. A route in Altrincham if you want it; over 140 stops with a very late start? No thanks. Second call. A miss-sort route, ready now. OK. 21 drops spread all over: Liverpool city centre, Birkenhead, Ellesmere Port, Wavertree, St Helens, Warrington, Timperley, Lymm, Kirkby. Ended up being a bit of a late finish with the delayed start (and actually 168 miles), but less tiring than 140 stops in that sunshine. Oh, and driving on new tyres was a lot more relaxing not worrying about pulling up next to the rozzers or parking next to one in a car park. And relax...

Driving around whilst listening to the exciting France v Argentina match was good. Normally you can't hear much as you're in and out of the cab so much you miss more than you catch, but with 21 drops there was more driving than delivering. Huzzah! Whilst it meant I missed watching a great game there was the Portugal game to come - Suarez vs Ronaldo. So I got to watch that. And the joy of watching Ronaldo knocked out of the World Cup at this early stage made it a mildly joyous evening.

So a quick bit of reviewing at breakfast had been overtaken by work and left me fifteen hundred words short of the story with the deadline of the competition looming quicker than a German exit from the cup. The closing date was 30th June, but it was an American competition so there were more hours to play with from Blighty. By midnight I'd printed it out. Read and edited. Made the changes and uploaded by 1.30am. Yay! I got it in with over 5 hours to spare. Result. 5,500 words. All the right ones, just not necessarily in the right order etc etc.

Memo to Self: Don't leave it to the last minute next time.

Reply to Memo to Self: Yeah, right!



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Long cold evening out

Long Evening and Night - Over and Out

Well it's been a funny old week at work; and by funny I don't mean funny at all. Sometimes you just have to shrug, grin (or not) and bear it; days and weeks come and go. And some are better than others. Sometimes adversity looks great in the wing mirror. Ho hum. Maybe not but I'll just give you my bit of wisdom based on my van breaking down on Wednesday evening...

The van broke down due to a catastrophic failure of the coolant pipe. No coolant.. no drive it! (Error message read '
Hazard of Engine Failure' Eek!!! It happened at 6.15pm when I was on the A55 about 40 miles from home. I got home at 1am. Sheesh! ZZzzzzzzz

Wisdom to take on board for next time:
keep on driving... just a little bit further. Or even go back to where you came but on no occasion EVER stop at a service station in a telephone blackspot (okay, I'm with 3Mobile so that may rule out a fair few service stations, but hey ho). And worse; no phone signal AND no wi-fi. Do not stop at a service station in the evening when it has a Little Chef... that closes at 3pm?!

Do always always keep a book with you. Keep a sleeping bag with you. A torch and a notebook. Gloves maybe.

Remember if you ain't got any cooling you can't run your engine - and so you won't get any warmth. When it's a starry night and 2C it's a bugger of a fault to get. I got out to walk to warm my feet. It warmed my feet but the rest of me got colder. Five and half hours in an unwarmable vehicle is not a cool place to be. Well it is. But you know.

It's also a bugger when the AA turn up 30 minutes later than they said they would be ('at the latest') and
then tell you that they are due a 15 minute break!

Oh, there's more. So much more but my feet and fingers are still numb and I'm so so tired.

Over and out.



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