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Nosy...

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» Stupid Colleagues

Dangerously daft...
Part of my previous job was renovating council properties. Part of this involved ripping up the kitchen and bathroom floors and installing a new surface. In order to do this to a decent standard (unlike the council's own workmen) the floor needed to be screeded. One morning as I was about to head off from base I was informed I was to take a young guy, fresh out of school, who had recently joined us on a kind of apprentiship and show him some basics. He'd been around for a few weeks already but I hadn't really talked to him or tried to get to know him because he was still in the grunting teenage caveman stage and I couldn't be bothered with it.
So I tried to be as friendly as possible, guessing that he must be very unsure of himself and a bag of nerves. I double checked the van's inventory with him, running through what we'd need for the job. Not a word of aknowledgement in return. It was going to be a stimulating journey for sure.
Anyway, we get on site. I start ripping up the old floor and ask him to set up the equipment we'll need outside. A couple of buckets, a mixer, extension lead and three bags of screed with liquid. Off he goes. Much effort and sweating later and I go outside for a breather and see how he's getting on. He's leaning up against the side of the van, smoking a cigarette.
'Van was locked' He grunted.
Exasperated, resisting temptation to be nasty or sarcastic I open the van for him, why he didn't just ask me for the keys I don't know. Anyway, I start setting things up, trying to instruct him on what to do and he moves at a snails pace, successfully dropping and splitting open a bag of screed. I can't make my mind up if he just doesn't want to be here, is completely disinterested or is just slow. Or all three. So to try and get him more involved I offer to let him mix the screed with the big industrial mixer (basically a very large, powerful whisk). After all, everyone likes messing around with power tools. So everything's plugged in and ready.
I pour the liquid latex in to the bucket and nod at him to prepare to start mixing while I see to the powder. Like anyone with a new mechanical toy, he gives it a few revs held in mid air...failing to comprehend that doing so whilst waving it in front of the power lead will result in the lead being caught between the two blades and getting cut...which is exactly what happens. The live end of the lead makes contact with the metal blades and a massive BANG rings out. Luckily the chassis and handles of the mixer were plastic. I jump back, having very nearly shat my pants, and quickly rush inside to isolate the power, rushing back out to see if he's alright.
He's stood over the bucket with the mixer, pressing the button.
'It's not working...' He grunts.

Definitely slow...
(Fri 4th Mar 2011, 1:44, More)

» Little Victories

Landlords...
A few years back me and my g/f were looking for our first flat together as she was just finishing the last year of her masters degree and I, well, I was doing nothing in particular.
So I go flat hunting and am taken around some right shitholes. Price was very important though as neither of us had much money. Just as I was about to consign ourselves to living in a small, mouldy cupboard the guy showing me around took me to a property that hadn't yet been put on the books.

It was a breath of fresh air. It was very spacious and had just been freshly done up. New kitchen, bathroom, nice neutral colours. In fact the only thing wrong with the place was that the fuseboard hadn't been installed yet. The estate agent assured me it would be installed before the move in date (the date my G/F was moving out of a student house). I asked the price of the place and was elated to discover it was well within our price range so I told him i'd take it. Paid the bond, first months rent and fees the same day. Brilliant.

When it came to moving day, i'd hired a van to move our stuff in and came in through the door to find bare wires hanging down from the ceiling. No biggie I thought, having worked in domestic electrical installation myself I knew that fuseboards didn't take long to install. I offered to install it myself and have my father (a recently retired electrical engineer) certificate it. But they insisted on having 'their' guys do it. Phoned up the agency and they said it would be a week before they could install it. Luckily my parents were able to put us up in the meantime.

So after a week we moved in to our new, electrified flat and got about the business of living and starting life together.

Then winter kicked in...

Now my g/f and I don't like artificial heat. We find it too stifling and dry so we hadn't tried the boiler until the cold really set in. To my dismay I discovered that the damn thing didn't work. There was power to it and it seemed to want to start running. I phoned the agency and they informed me that they hadn't actually connected the boiler to a gas supply and that they'd contact British Gas to get the supply up and running. Great!

3 months later we were STILL without gas, freezing our asses off. Even after reminding them in no uncertain terms that it was their responsibility to supply the domestic services, as stated in the signed tennant's agreement. Eventually it was sorted and we could feel our feet again.

By this time we were half way through our tennancy and had not received a water bill. We reminded them of this too on more than one occasion. It never came.

Anyway, we had a lot of great times in that flat in spite of the crap management and when the time came to renew the tennancy we had decided to move on. So the guy who had showed me the place came around to inspect the place (he never had during the previous 11 months) a few weeks before we were to move out, wherein he informed us that he would be keeping our bond to cover the water bill he'd never given us and we'd have to pay for the decoration to be re done due to the damp and mould that had set in the stairwell in the 3 months we were without heating. I could sense this guy wasn't worth arguing with so I said nothing and let him on his way.

TO THE INTERNET, BATMAN!!! I started reading up on tennant's and landlord's rights and responsibilities and came accross a rather interesting peice of legislation called the 'Bond Protection Scheme'. In it I discovered that if a landlord fails to put your bond in to a third party protection or holding scheme and notify you of its whereabouts, they are liable to pay THREE TIMES the amount of the bond in compensation ON TOP of refunding the bond. In our case this came to the spooge inducing sum of 2000.
They hadn't protected our bond.
I don't think i've laughed so much in a while since that moment. The utter glee and absolute certainty that I could fuck this guy over royally if he didn't do exactly as I wanted.

I informed the agency about their little mishap and that I wanted my bond back in full. Mysteriously, it transpired that the property had never actually been on their books and that the guy who had shown me around was letting other properties out on the side. So he was my next port of call. I wish I could have seen the look on his face over the phone when informed of his mistake. I let him know that I was willing to come to an agreement. After all we're not greedy people. We just wanted to get out and move on and not have to go through courts and all sorts of nonsense.

So we managed to get him to accept responsibility for the ingress of mould and damp, get our bond back in full AND get him to pay the water bill that he'd waved in our faces in such a smug manner. On top of this I asked him to provide us with a sum of money that HE thought was appropriate for our inconvenience at the hands of his piss-poor management. Though I warned him not to insult us or I would take the matter further.

In the end we accepted his offer and probably came out of the ordeal a hell of a lot better than the 2000 we may or may not have got if we'd taken to matter to court, considering the water bill and decoration costs.

A few months later and my parents had bought a bungalow so we went to visit them. Guess who they were living next door to? There's nothing better than walking past someone with a knowing smile and seeing them look intently at the ground as they shuffle by...

Apologies for length.
(Fri 11th Feb 2011, 1:26, More)

» Asking people out

Not asking out...
But a total failure at being asked out.
Now I myself have never ever chatted up a girl due to my lack of confidence and meek nature. My 'technique' involves a high degree of chance and alot of waiting. If word gets around that a girl I like or get to know through other friends etc likes me, then I go in to full blissfully unaware/friendly male mode, but while still flirting and dropping subtle hints and after a few weeks/months it either peters out and comes to nothing, or the suspense becomes too much for them that they fling themselves at me through sheer frustration.
The advantage of this technique is that the successes tend to be intense and passionate (if not shortlived) and it pretty much eliminates the margin for embarassment. But you do end up going through long dry spells...

Anyway, on to the story...
Cardiff a few years ago, shortly before I got together with my current long term girlfriend. I was out with friends at the now sadly defunct Point venue in the bay. Pretty much a lads night out with no intention of trying anything on with the opposite sex, as it goes against my said 'technique'.
After having consumed more than my fair share of beverages, amongst other things, I was happily sat to the side of the dancefloor taking the lights, people and music in with my friends.
All of a sudden I sight a girl strolling right up to me, I can't remember what she looked like but I remember my loins approved. She straddled me and placed herself on my lap, facing me.
'Hi there'
'Oh...hello' I said bemused.
'I'm having a bit of trouble with my top. Can you...?'
She looks down at her corset and the laces at the front are slightly, neatly undone. Now for many red blooded males this situation would have ended right there with a meeting of the tongues. But for me in my condition and complete inability to grasp the sub-text?
'Uhhh...oh right. I'll see what I can do'
Her bosom right in front of me, I observe for a moment. Then proceed to attempt to re-tie the laces in my extemely inebriated state.
Eventually after much fumbling, I come to the conclusion that my hand to eye co-ordination is not up to the job. I look her in the eyes and smile apologetically...
'I'm sorry, I'm far too drunk. But my friend over there will be able to help you i'm sure'
My friend gives me a look of confusion, surprise and eagerness. The girl was pretty dumbfounded too, if not a little insulted i'm sure.
She gently thrust her chest closer to me, pushing me back in the chair, but there I was with the same moronic, apologetic grin on my face. The girl looks over to my friend, who shrugs and chuckles a bit. Then she gets up and wanders off to her group of friends.
'What a nice girl' I think to myself.

When I had sobered up a little later and the whole thing dawned on me I tried to track the girl down (after maybe the greatest facepalming of my life and much mockery from my friends). But she was nowhere to be found.
But not all was lost! A few weeks later my current girlfriend and I got together and have been happy ever since. I just pray i'm never single again so things like that don't happen...
(Tue 15th Dec 2009, 3:58, More)

» The Police II

Never been arrested...
...but Police seem to love pulling me over, not that i'm a bad driver (clean licence, never had so much as a scratch). Maybe I just look suspicious...

Anyway, when having a licence and my own car was still a novelty I used to take friends out for random drives all over the place at ungodly hours. This lead to quite a few run ins with the law which, thankfully, I managed to blag my way out of. They include:

Being pulled over with a car full of lads in their early 20's and all being asked what we were up to separately. Panicking, none of our stories matched because 'We came looking for badgers' (which is what we were doing) would have probably gotten us carted away for a drug search. This lead to them asking me to open the boot. I explained that the boot could only be opened with much fiddling with a screwdriver because the catch was broken. They got bored and we went on our way. What they didn't realise or find out is that I had another friend stowed away in the perfectly operational boot...

After visiting a local reservoir and mucking about, said boot-dwelling friend asked if he could put something in my car. I assumed it would be his wet jumper and trainers so let him get on with it. On the return journey we were pulled over and yet again, I was asked to open the boot. Safe in the knowledge that my boot was a boy-free zone I complied. However, it was not a buoy-free zone...
My friend had decided to take a souvenir and had stolen a buoy along with a bit of rope, some signs and an old beer keg. I stood in silence with the officer for a moment, staring in to the boot, not wanting to make eye contact (he would've most likely burst out laughing whereas I would have most likely burst in to apologetic tears) until I sheepishly mumbled something about my Dad's boat (he doesn't own one) and a party. Amazingly, he either believed it or took pity on me. They sent us on our way.

One more... I always let my drug dabbling friends know that if they chose to carry stuff whilst in my car, they'd be on their own if we were ever stopped. Not that it would stop me from getting in to a bit of bother if we were stopped and searched but it prevented misguided attempts at trying to cover for each other and ending up getting in to more trouble.
Anyway, we were on the way back from the train station after having picked up a friend of one of my mates, who i'd never met. Mid journey, he produced a massive bag of pills and swung it about gleefully so I could see it in the rear view mirror. Before I could say anything, what else should I see screaming towards us but blue flashing lights...
After hastily telling him that it would be his own problem and to hide it on himself, not in my car, I tried to pull over as respectfully and diligently as possible.
We probably looked guiltier than a dog next to an empty tray of biscuits and were shitting ourselves. I slowly wound down the window as the copper approached...
'Alright lads? Nothing to worry about, we just thought you were car thieves! But obviously not or you wouldn't have stopped. Have a nice night lads!'
And off he went. We must have sat there for about 5 minutes in silence just waiting for our sphincters to relax enough to be able to speak.

As grateful as I am that was the course of action he chose to follow, I can't help but feel that maybe he should have investigated a bit further? I mean, we could have just been very polite thieves suffering from a sudden attack of conscience...
(Fri 6th May 2011, 2:59, More)

» World of Random

In my hometown of Newport...
...South Wales, there is a castle, after which the city was originally named. It lines the river Usk on the edge of the city centre and is sandwhiched between a busy roundabout and rail bridge.
It used to be accessible to the public and was a favourite haunt of the local goth/alternative population (of which I was a member at the time) until it was fenced off in the early 2000's. Probably owing to the fact that depressed teenagers kept throwing themselves in to the muddy banks of the Usk (no fatalities that i'm aware of. Just a lot of bother for the local emergency services).

Anyhow, since it was fenced off by massive spikey railings it's nigh on impossible to get to unless you're particularly daring, determined or a pigeon. So imagine my surprise when one day, driving toward town, I saw a trolley from the local supermarket wedged perfectly in to one of the window arches. Usually they just end up in the river but this was a work of genius.

After i'd finished laughing and narrowly avoided crashing in to the driver in front of me, I took a moment to consider the logistics of this herculean feat.
The arch was a good 30 - 40 foot up and the climb in itself wouldn't be easy due to the crumbling, mossy brick work. Not to mention the pigeon shit. Still, whoever it was had managed not only to circumnavigate the fencing, but climb the castle...with a trolley...and get it to fit perfectly in to the arch. I would like to find that person and shake them by the hand.

It's a shame they removed it.
(Fri 22nd Apr 2011, 12:45, More)
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