Today was supposed to be Fridge Day, when our brand new fridge, the one that doesn’t sound like a machine gun going off, was supposed to be delivered.
I got up bright and early and put on my Special Shoes. These are actually beach shoes, made of nylon and rubber with a velcro retaining band. I wear them on occasions like this because they are both indoor and outdoor shoes and when people deliver your new fridge you often have to go outside to greet them and then come in again and you don’t have time to keep changing from slippers to shoes and back again as you go in and out.
When you arrange a delivery you always ask “When will it arrive?” and they always say, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, “Oh, we can’t tell you that. All we can say is that it will come sometime on Thursday.” So what do you do? Well, you put on your Special Shoes and you sit and wait.
Which was exactly my situation when the phone rang. It was the delivery driver. He sounded very apologetic. In fact, he sounded so apologetic that I decided that either he really was feeling apologetic or he was a jolly good actor. Then again, what would a jolly good actor be doing delivering fridges? Presumably he would be acting somewhere.
He was apologetic because he couldn’t deliver the fridge. We live on a main road, a Red Route, and according to the driver there were “traffic wardens everywhere”. Was there anywhere else he could park? I mentally patted myself down to see if I had a car park in one of my pockets. Then I had a brainwave. “If you go along the road a little way,” I told him, “you will come to the reservoir and beside it is a blocked off road. You could park there and trundle the fridge along the pavement on your trolley.”
As you can imagine I felt really happy and even a little bit clever for having solved the problem so dexterously. The driver, alas, was unimpressed. “But can you park there?” he asked in the sort of voice that Parker might have announced to Lady Penelope that the pink Rolls had suffered a breakdown. “Er, dunno,” I was forced to admit, suddenly feeling the chill of oncoming disaster.
“There’s traffic wardens everywhere,” intoned our man, “and I can’t park in lay-bys or side roads until 10 am.” (It was now about 8:30 am.) “I can’t hang about til then,” said he, twisting the knife.
“I’m really really sorry,” he assured me for the tenth time. “I’ll phone my office and see what they say.” With that little ray of hope he left me to stew in anticipation.
So I sat here – right where I am sitting as I write this – being frightfully brave and not letting myself think of the consequences of not having the fridge delivered today. We will shortly be going out of town for a few days and if they cannot “drop” the fridge, as they so graphically put it, today, it may have to wait until our return.
The phone rang. It was the driver. “I’m really really sorry,” he assured me for the eleventh time. “I called my office and they said if I can’t drop the fridge I’ll have to leave it. There’s other jobs and I can’t hang about til 10.”
He suggested that when I rearrange delivery, I specify that it has to be after 10 am. Good advice except that you know what will happen when I say that, don’t you? They will say “Oh, we can’t tell you that. All we can say is that it will come sometime on Thursday.” Or Monday. Or Wednesday. Or any day when parking restrictions prevent them coming anywhere near the house.
You would think that a delivery company would know that there are parking restrictions in towns and would schedule deliveries accordingly. After all, their job is to deliver, not to not deliver and professionals make sure that they can do the job. Or am I missing something? Could it be that delivery people, like so many other tradespeople, simply don’t give a toss and think they have fulfilled their obligations by making some vague gesture towards doing so?
It’s my fault, of course. And yours. And Charlie’s. It’s the fault of all of us phlegmatic British don’t-make-a-fussers who let everyone from politicians down to delivery companies walk all over us.
I’m going to have to dig around in the drawer and find my stroppy pills, take a couple and then go round to Iceland (the food store, not the country) and sort them out. You wish. If I do that, you know what will happen, don’t you? I’ll be accused of abusing staff and be escorted from the premises. You are not allowed to complain or become angry. All you are allowed to do is smile sadly and say thank you.
Then maybe, just maybe, one day, one distant happy day, you will get a new fridge.