That’s Diesel…..dieeeeeeeeeesel

Posted: August 15, 2011 in About Me

The holidays are a great time to relax. I really enjoy the time of not going into work, although I have been doing a lot of work during the holidays so far. I have spend a few days back in school, had a meeting with the chief, completed some updating of policies and such like, but now, now the rest of the holiday is mine. Yeah right. Who am I kidding??

The thought of popping to the petrol station for diesel during my driving lesson (mentioned in one of my MINI adventure blogs) brought back memories of the time I used to work in a petrol station while completing my A-Levels. Not to mention the other jobs that I have done over the years. This, when raised in conversation has caused a few laughs from work collegues, mainly from Jojo though!

My work history has been one that has a variety of roles within it. The first job I had was a paper round. Delivering the ‘free’ local paper to somewhat 200+ homes and farms close to where I lived. Usually completed on a Wednesday evening after school and accompanied by my dear friend Emma J. It took a few hours but we didn’t care, we had a ball while going round the hills and streets delivering the papers and mounds of leaflets. Whatever the weather we were there delivering the slightly out of date news to the people of Roberttown and Hartshead!

After leaving this job, mainly due to needing more money and wanting something better than a paper round I found myself working at Toys ‘R’ Us at Birstall on the retail park. Here we had a great time although I didnt think much to the stripet blue and white jackets we had to wear and the big Geoffery giraffe name badges that were stuck to our tops. Another issue with this job was the supervisor. A bulldog of a woman called Freida who took it as her hourly task to remind us younger members that we were there only to temp over the Christmas period and that if she had her way then we wouldn’t even be there, we had heard of ‘B’ list celebs, she told us throughout the day that we were ‘Z’ list employees. Oh the joys!

After the Christmas period we were offered permenant positions but I felt that my time of working for Geoffery and under the ever caring and watchful eye of Freida I was ready for pastures new. I handed back my stripey coat and Geoffery name badge and wished Freida a further happy 15 years service in the toy store.

This is when I moved to Arrow. My friend Andrea’s father owned a petrol station and garage, otherwise known as ‘Arrow Service Station’. Here I worked for a happy few months under his guidance. ‘If you get robbed give them anything they ask for’ were the first words that I was met with. ‘make sure when the till says there is over £200.00 in it you take some out, put it in the shoot and make a note. That way if we are robbed then they wont get more than £200.00’ This was the second piece of advice. The third piece and the one that stuck into my head the most was ‘if the place ever sets on fire, which it shouldn’t, then run like f*ck as quick as you can and don’t give a sh*t about the money. We are insured and the majority will be in the safe shoot anyway as you have been doing regular drops’. I thought about this and with a smile on my face replied ‘if it ever sets on fire, I’ll grab the notes and make sure the fire reaches the till before I run like f*ck, that ok?’

Working at Arrow was usually uneventful. The days passed topping up the fridges, the sweets and pressing the flashing lights when people wanted petrol or diesel. There were on occassion times when things needed to be dealt with. These usually were kids from the local council estate coming down and messing about with the pumps or attempting to steal sweets from the shop. The other main thing, and the one that I hated the most were the blood and guts from the chicken factory from the workers wellies when they came in to buy their lunch; you see the petrol station was infront of Parkham Foods Chicken factory, the main supplier to Tesco and Asda. The mess that got left on the floor, not to mention the smell, was vile.

I had a great time working here and had regular visits from friends through out my shifts. We even at times re enacted out the Lee Evans sketch of the petrol worker and the man filling up his new car ‘diesel, thats dieeeeeeeeesel……..’ (sad I know) but it helped to pass the time.

About a year into working at Arrow the garage was sold. Andrea’s dad decided he wanted out of the petrol game and sold the place. We all stayed and worked for a new man that had bought it. This is when things started to go slightly down hill and wrong!!

In the 25 years that Andrea’s dad had owned the place there had never been an issue regards a fire, but this was all about to change. In the 25 years of Andrea’s dad had owned the place there had only ever been one robbery but this was also about to change.

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. I started my shift at 2pm, releasing Michael who that week had been on Staurday earlies. The shelves were full and the cigarettes fully topped up. I decided I would watch a bit of Saturday afternoon TV. The repair garage was closed for the afternoon so I was alone in the building. It had been a while since the last car had been for petrol and the main road was also quiet for a Saturday. People probably enjoying the sunshine in their back gardens and there I was stuck in work.

Suddenly the door to the shop burst open and in ran a masked man with a blue plastic carrier bag demanding that I didn’t do anything than what he asked me to do. I jumped off the chair that I was sat on more or less at the same time as he jumped up onto the counter top shouting at me to get out of his way. He demanded that he wanted cigarettes and that once his bag was full he wanted the money from the till, reminding me not to press any of the panic buttons otherwise things could get ‘dirty’. I decided it was best in this instant to keep my gob shut for once and pointless in trying to reassure him that we don’t have any panic buttons to press!

My back was against the till blocking the money drawer but it didn’t matter as he was busy filling his bag with the cigarettes. When it was half full he stopped. He turned to me and told me to open the register and take out all the bank notes. At this point I decided not to keep my mouth shut any longer and explained that I couldn’t do it as my back was pressed against the drawer so even if I opened it, it actually wouldn’t open. He didn’t seem to understand and began shouting. He demanded again that I was to open it. I tried to explain again which just led to his shouting again! We were going in circles but there was no way that it could be opened. Eventually I think he grasped what I was saying and grabbed me. He pulled me forward and I moved, but as I did I grabbed the shutter on the cigarette counter and pulled it as hard as I could. His arm was still inside and ended up trapped by the shelves in the cabinet and the shutter coming down on his arm. He scremed like an injured dog, began ranting at me that his arm may be broken and tried hitting me with his free hand. He managed to free himself from the cabinet and made haste for the door, forgetting he hadn’t got the booty from the till. As soon as he left I locked the door, rang the police, rang my mate John just to talk to someone and then my new boss. At no point did he ask how I was or if anyone else was involved, all he was bothered about was the amount of money he lost! So this was robbery one.

Robbery two didn’t involve me. It involved Michael, the guy that I worked with and went to school with. This happened a few months after my robbery experience and to be honest I would rather have gone through the experience that I had than the one of Michael’s. Again Michael’s took place on a weekend, but on a Sunday evening. It was winter and the night had set in. Michael was locking up the shop and collecting in the outdoor display items when two guys with baseball bats ran into the shop. They demanded money, phone cards and cigarettes. Michael didn’t stand in their way, he allowed them to help themselves to anything they wanted but he found himself being thrown to the floor and beaten with a baseball bat! He returned to work within a couple of days as he said idiots like them wouldn’t get the better of him!!

The final event happened just before I left. I openly hold up my hands and take the blame. It was my fault in one respect. It was the day of the fire. You see, the garge had an oil burner in it where all the old oil was disposed and burnt and the heat generated used to heat the building. The garage service area was closed for the day and there were two customers cars in there waiting to be serviced on the Monday morning. It was mid December , a freezing winter afternoon. I decided that the oil burner needed to be lit as I could hardly feel my fingers. The petrol station was quiet so I made my way into the service garage, checked the oil level, lit the match and threw it into the vat of oil. You have to ensure that the lid to the oil burner is fastened securley otherwise the oil can bubble out of the top. The oil was lit. The buzzer was sounding in the garage telling me that someone had come to get petrol, so I quickly slid the lid over the oil burner (not bolting it) and went back into the shop. I started the pumps for the cars waiting. They filled up, came and paid, drove off and were replaced by a bus at the diesel tank and numerous other cars arriving to fill up, use the acr machine, vac and car wash. Over twenty minutes had passed since I had lit the oil burner, slid the lid over but not secured the bolts, closed the joining door between the shop and the garge service area, started the pumps, served the customers, chased off the children messing on the forecourt from the neighbouring council estate, come back into the shop and sat down watching TV. It had completely slipped my mind that the lid wasn’t on right. That was until I looked at the frosted opaque window between teh shop and the garage service area and saw a orange glow! A glow that was never there. A glow that seemed to be dancing about and getting brighter. It was at this second that it came to me. I had forgotten the screw on the lid! I had not gone back and finished off the job! A little bit of panic came over me. I went to the door and could hear the oil bubbling away. I opened the door and as met by a wall of dancing flames leaping from the oil burner and climbing up the wall as though they were on stairs or a ladder. They were beginning to slither across the roof of the garage. The building was on fire!!

I ran out onto the forecourt and grabbed the powder fire extingusher and ran back into the building. I sounded the alarm onto the forecoaurt that shrieked like an air raid siren. The garage was on fire! The flames were still dancing out of the oil burner and were spreading further across the roof. I had the fire extinghisher in my hand and ran into the centre of the garage service area. I held the nozzle towards the oil burner, removed the pin and pressed as hard as I could on the handle, but……….there was nothing! Nothing came out! It was empty! It was the one that a few weeks ago the kids from the estate had set off and now here I was needing it and it was empty!! I ran back onto the forecourt and grabbed another. I ran back in and luckily this time it went off! Powder flew from the nozzle in the direction of the oil burner. The room was filling with smoke and powder. I pointed it up the wall and across the roof, I twisted round and sprayed. I couldn’t see. There was that much smoke and powder, my vision was like that of a blind person. I was dis-orientated from moving about and didn’t know where the exit was from the garage service area back to the shop. I didn’t even know if the fire was out!

Suddenly I heard someone shouting my name. It was Michael’s mum. She had called to get some petrol, had seen the smoke seaping through the cracks in the door but couldn’t find me. She shouted and guided me from the service area back into the shop. I explained what had happened. She sat with me until I got my breath then helped me find the keys for the garage double doors to open them up to allow the powder in the air and the smoke leave the building. Black smoke billowed out when we opened them. Neighbours ran across from the nearby houses to see what was going on. Once the smoke had cleared the garage service area looked as though fresh snow had fallen upon it with all the powder from the fire extingisher and here the big clean up began. Not to mention the phone call to my boss to inform him that his business had nearly burnt to the ground, but he didn’t seem phased, he took it well. After all he hadn’t lost any money!!

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