First of all I need to be clear that this article isn’t a rant or moan and that I absolutely love working with Enhance the UK mainly because I am passionate about the charity itself, no two days are the same and because I get paid to meet and chat to new people both when providing training and also attending meetings. Anyone who knows me will know that I can chat for England, with anyone about anything – well maybe except for engineering, my partner tries to talk to me about that and I usually end up switching off and thinking about what’s for dinner! The downside of the meetings and training is the travel. I can be absolutely anywhere and everywhere. My friend’s joke that I ‘get about a bit’ and it’s true, one day I can be in Newcastle, another in Brighton. It’s not the actual travel itself that I hate it’s the incidents I have when travelling. You see if something is going to go wrong, then it will. You literally wouldn’t believe the amount of mishaps (often at no fault of my own) that I have when travelling. My colleagues expect something to happen now and when I tell them about it they respond ‘she’s done a Claire again’
So what could possibly go wrong I hear you ask? Where do I start? Well there’s the time that I was given the wrong postcode for a meeting, I turned up at a venue, checked in at the reception, waited for half an hour for the receptionist to kindly inform me that I was at the wrong place and I needed to drive to another venue across town. She must have thought it was a giggle to see how long she could make me wait before telling me.
Then there’s the time that I had a tyre blowout on the outside lane of the M1 (trust me this wasn’t fun), or when my cam belt snapped on an A road and the car came to a stop in the middle of a junction – it really couldn’t have happened at a worse place. The police officers were not impressed about having to sit with me for an hour. Another time I didn’t put my handbrake on properly (I accept this is my fault) and the car rolled back and blocked the road causing chaos. Then there’s the time that I ended up stuck on the motorway as there had been an accident, and I literally didn’t move an inch for 5 hours. Or the time that I arrived at a training session and broke my key in the ignition, after finally wiggling it out, I then dropped it in the foot well and ended up outside the car on my hands and knees with my arse up in the air desperately trying to find it – not dignified at all! Although special thanks need to go out to the blokes that fixed it for me whilst I was training so I could actually get home. I could go on, but I think you have the picture. It has been suggested to me that maybe I shouldn’t drive and should use public transport but I don’t seem to fare any better then either.
Trains are my arch nemesis, you see when journeys go well, then all is fine in the world and I actually enjoy them, but this rarely happens. We are all used to delays, they’re an expected part of commuting – although they shouldn’t be, but you see it’s not the delays I tell my colleagues about it. Its everything else ….I have lost count the number of times the train has gone whizzing past my station. I always make a point of checking the board before getting on a train as I can’t hear the announcements, but often they just don’t update the board. This adds an extra hour on my journey which at the end of a long day is the last thing anyone wants. Sometimes the rail company won’t change the board if another train arrives first; I have, on a few occasions got onto a train expected to get home and ended up somewhere totally different! Another time I fell asleep, I woke with a start to find a conductor with his face close to mine. He had been trying to get my attention without realising I am deaf. Poor bloke didn‘t know what to do when his constant shouting hadn’t woken me up. By the time I had woken up enough to show him my ticket, he told me that I had missed my stop – typical. When I told my colleagues they were more amazed that none of the other passengers had snapped with my snoring and tried to smother me. To be fair, they have a point!
Then there’s the time I arrived at a meeting with a coffee stain down my front where the man standing next to me had dropped his coffee cup in my lap. Or even worse arriving with one shoe on, as my shoe had managed to slip off my foot and drop down onto the line getting off the train and I couldn’t find anyone at the station to get it for me. Another time I became really ill on the train after a meeting. I managed to vomit all down myself as I couldn’t get through the mob on the train to the toilet. Let’s just say people then moved out of my way pretty quickly. I have to say though; the worst time was when I was in one of the last carriages of the train. There was only one other person there so I didn’t think anything of her moving to the next carriage. It turns out I should have done as they had made an announcement that all passengers should move to the next carriage. I wondered why suddenly I was moving backwards and went into panic mode when I realised what was happening, having visions of being stranded in the carriage all night! Luckily once the train had stopped in a siding an employee must have heard me banging on the glass and let me out!
So here’s how I deal with the constant mishaps. I always make sure I have emergency rations, a spare drink and food is a must. I also always leave my place really early to make sure I allow for the things that can and do go wrong. Most importantly though, I message my colleagues and take a bit of a ribbing about ‘doing a Claire.’