The used car dilemma

Anybody else noticed that there is a slight twinge of coldness in the mornings and evenings definitely warrants a jumper/cardigan?

In my particular area it was only about three weeks ago that all of the temperatures with 10° hotter than they have been since then.

Anyways with my excellent track record of buying the wrong car, the golf might be somewhat of an exception, here is the latest offering that’s been sent my way.

Ford focus 1.6 tdci
80,000 miles on the clock
2 Previous owners
Bodywork bit tatty but nothing he wouldn’t expect for a car which is 10 years old.

For once I took someone along with me and there aren’t any real problems with it that we could see. It does look like a wheel bearing is going to need replacing but the same can be said for my golf.

Reason for selling.
The sun is getting a brand-new car and she will be using that along with her husband’s van.

All of this for £500. So those being the facts now let’s go into the back story.

I heard about this car from a bloke in the pub, he’s also the bloke whose son sold me the dreaded Peugeot of doom. Just as a side note the Peugeot still isn’t on the road and I sold it to a very dear friend of mine who was helping me out by purchasing it. I do feel really bad about it not being on the road yet but there’s absolutely nothing I can do unfortunately. If I had the money I would honestly buy the car back from her.

So the Ford is from a friend of the guy who son sold me the dreaded Peugeot. I don’t think he’s had anything to do with the car mechanically which brings me onto the next point.

Her husband is a mechanic.
So he’s done all of the regular servicing for the fort which might not be a bad thing but the problem with mechanics are servicing their own cars is that they know what to hide and exactly how to hide it. For every point I made there is obviously a counterpoints I’m here I can argue that all of us, well a lot of people I know don’t regularly serviced their car.

My final thought about the car is that to be honest its not a car that I want. This one is just pure case of practicality. The golfs road tax a year is £140 whereas my golf cost me that for six months.

Despite being a 1.6 Turbo diesel hopefully it will push me over that magical figure of 44 mpg which I worked out to be the break even point when you consider the extra cost of diesel these days.

My main worry is this. The golf is worth about £900 and would be better for a future trading but can I afford to keep hold of it until six times I’m in a better position to actually get a decent car?

Another reminder about scummy contracting agencies.

Well I’ve just had a reminder why I hate dealing with scumbag agencies. They’ve offered me £100 a day before tax and national insurance contributions and I’ve seen it advertised for 110

It’s amazing the power of Google at times. Funnily enough on 30 July at 10:10 AM the position they were discussing with me was posted on the Internet. Attached screenshot below.

Today a few of the details have changed including the all-important daily rate.

Thankfully they’ve confirmed the interview today via email and It’s for 10 AM tomorrow morning.

Anybody who’s interested they did provide me with the following.

- First point on contract by phone/face to face for support queries
– Supporting Microsoft Office
– Printer fixes
– Password resets
– Basic Active Directory fixes
– Basic network fixes
– Fixing basic Windows queries
– Working within a support ticketing system.

You’ve got it, this is your basic first-line support system. Granted this would be fairly easy money as it’s not going to stretch me in any way shape or form but that’s perhaps one of the reasons why I’m not keen.

As I said in my previous post this seems to be one of those jobs where they are paying what they think you are worth to the company not what your actual worth it is. Given the agency itself has decided to drop the price from £110-£100 this seems ever more clear.

If Google maps is correct then this is a job for an e-commerce company which I believe has sales wraps all around the UK. You know those annoying magazines that come through your door with all shapes, sizes and types of Tupperware? I think it’s one of those companies.

20140804-143557-52557484.jpg

Even the website is a fairly old and uninspiring design and I should know I’ve worked with companies like this before.

I seem to be arguing with myself I’ve just realised me like to go ahead and take this role I just don’t see how it’s going to be financially viable.

If I ignore the fact that I requested a couple of days notice for interviewing and then obviously mucking around with the daily rate I do still like to work away.

Or am I perhaps just grasping out of fear because work around these parts is scarce and hard to come by but is there any reason to settle for someone taking advantage?

It’s none too dissimilar to when you need to sell a car quickly and the buyer picks up on that and offers you less than you know it’s actually worth.

I’m going to work on the spreadsheets and see just how much I get to take home and if I could actually live on what would be left over bearing I mind the average price of a bed-and-breakfast in and around that area is anything from £50 upwards.

Even if I was to conservatively estimate the cost of lunch at 6 pounds and dinner at let’s say 8 pounds exactly have much left. This doesn’t include the travelling costs etc etc.

And whilst I am away I still have the rent and upkeep of my old place to consider.

Now I remember why contacting agencies are scum.

“I have an excellent contract opportunity coming up that you would be an ideal fit for work”. Words I would guess any IT contractor hears quite often.

And so the dance started for two weeks. Calling him to find out what exactly this opportunity was and is being given the same line over and over.

(A up-and-coming, dynamic marketing agency has one of their IT members on long-term absence and they need someone to fill that role”

Immediately I ask why has said person on extended leave from the company and you can hear the agency man and are trying to think of a good cover up. I see that last bit with the benefit of hindsight.

So this particular role is going to be based near Swindon, the next junction past the turning for bath.

He then goes on to describe the position as a mixture of first, second and third line support for a company of about 60 individuals that also provide services to some “major market leading brands”.

Translation, they have one IT guy because they don’t see the value in looking after their systems. But don’t worry because we will work in to the grind to ring every single piece of energy and life out of them whilst paying as little as we can.

Know the agency man comes out with the big guns. “What rates are you normally home?”, “I normally go for £20 an hour”.

£20 an hour is what I would really like him but with the market conditions being as they are I know it will probably be closer to £15 if anything.

Just as a side note I’ve not been on anything like that for the last 3 to 4 years.

“So Highwood 150 a day grab you?”, I’d give it quite a hug “

So almost immediately he’s trying to the company as much as.

They bury mind that dayrates might seem like a lot but I have to sort out my eye and tax and national insurance contributions. I also have to pay an umbrella company to put me down as an employee.

Also been done and if you are clever enough with your expense claims you can hopefully take-home anywhere between 80 to 85% of the daily rate.

As this job is some 50 miles away from where I live I also have to try and find accommodation. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

The job is only for two months which would be quite nice to see out the summer somewhere different before coming back to the dark and grisly land of Pembrokeshire. If anything it would be an interesting experiment to see if I could actually managed to be sociable back in an office environment.

Time after time I told the agency guy that I need a couple of days notice to get myself organised for any interviews or a potential start date. He tried pushing me hard on this one to say why can’t I do it next day and I said I had work and I’m not going to set a president of jacking a job in to go to another one without doing it properly. After all I said if I willing to do that to this employer that could mean I would do it you wouldn’t it? I was hoping the penny would drop but it didn’t.

At 6:10 PM on Wednesday I had a voicemail asking if I could go to an interview on Friday. Yes granted if I and lived where I told him, Bristol, then that wouldn’t be an issue but the stark reality is I’m faced with a 3 1/2 hour drive to go up there.

Three phone calls and to text messages followed me around most I was working on Thursday. At 4 PM on Thursday I said no I couldn’t make it because I’m on the end of this job and I need to finish it to get paid. I think it is a pretty darn good reason and I did make it abundantly clear I needed “a couple of days notice”

He says what about Monday and I said I would rather not as it’s quite a lot of hassle for Monday morning coming off the back of this job but go for it. He said he would get back to me to be fair he did but saying that Tuesday would be better for the client.

But here is where the real sting in the tail comes.

The daily rate has plummeted to 100 times a day equating to £80 a day take home after tax and ni etc.

The multifaceted first-line second-line and third line support role has now become a first-line only role. I have no intention or desire to become someone who answers phone calls and logs them on to a system especially when it means having to travel all that distance.

So it turns out in reality this is a first line support roll with very limited remote assistance/fixing stuff to do.

I set him straight I said this is a far cry from the position you sold me on and the rate is also miles away upon which we said it would be to start with. “That’s all the client wants to pay”.

If you had an interview on Tuesday and they want you to start Wednesday with that be okay?

Again did I not make it clear to him earlier that I need a couple of days to get things sorted

“As long as the interview goes okay and I find out exactly what I will be doing and get on along with the people then that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Well like I said I haven’t spoken to anybody else about this role and you are pretty much surefire to get this one at the interview”

Small chit chat was made after that but I could tell he was getting all defensive like agency people do when you start to push back at them but there is one comments that really wind me up “at the end of the day it’s a job”

Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m ungrateful for any work opportunities but when you’re told one thing at the start and that changes as you get closer and closer to the job that’s bad enough but when the entire job specification changes and then the daily rates plummets as well that’s the thing which really aggravates me.

Yes at the end of the day it is a job and if I actually did live closer to where this position was I take it anyway. Everybody knows that contracting agencies are pretty much on the same scum level as estate agents and as the conversations between us have progressed this has become more and more evident.

Breaking things down.

So I’ve been thinking about my options for accommodation and I can only see two unless I want to spend two months living in a tent.

Plan A

Holiday Inn for 3 nights ( Wednesday to Friday) £91.49 per night.

Taking a look around the average price for a bed-and-breakfast is £50 per night

Lunch I estimate at a very conservative £5
Dinner, if I’m lucky, to be about 8 pounds

So just to eat and sleep for one night is going to cost me approximately £65. When your rate is £80 coming home with £15 a day in your back pocket makes things tough going.

Plan B.

Purchase a caravan £300 – £400.
Cost of getting caravans to site £100 ( on a wing and a prayer)
Electricity hook up per night £15
food cost per day £8

20140804-133413-48853280.jpg

End of the road part 2

At precisely 12:07 PM that was it. For the final time a locked up the council vehicle I made my way out of the yard without incident.

I could’ve been done 45 minutes earlier if it wasn’t for me being elected to take the vehicle control sign back to the other Depot some 15 miles away but all things considered finishing at 12:07 PM you can’t really grumble.

As I write this on Monday morning it does feel a little bit odd not to be having breakfast about knife or carrying around a strimmer for the best part of the day.

I have to say that for the majority of the five weeks doing this job I’m actually quite enjoyed it. No office politics, no backstabbing, so you know where you stand. You fuck up people haven’t got anywhere to go in bitch about you behind your back. There is a lot to be said for avoiding the world of office politics, a world which I don’t think I’d have or ever will get on with.

Hide deliberated if to try and shake the rest of the guys hands at the end of the day but thankfully the main guy who had taking me on a was very complimentary about me (shock horror) extended his hand for a handshake. A couple of the other guys are well and to be fair I instigated a couple as well. The main bloke I have been working with, Stan, literally couldn’t wait to get home and jumped into the LanRover disappearing off without so much as even a goodbye. You can’t win them all.

The more I think about it this could be one of the only jobs I’ve ever had where I haven’t been pushed out the door. The only other one I can remember is way back when I first started in IT working for British telecoms, back in Bristol.

Leaving the yard on Friday felt a little bit surreal,
I wouldn’t be going back on Monday or possibly ever again just felt odd. Fact I spent most of Friday’s Friday aimlessly pottering about just trying to keep myself amused.

Over the last five weeks dropped half a stone in weight, Bondane three notches on my belt and maybe conscious effort to actually eat healthily, including breakfast!

That was one of the toughest things to do was get up and within the first 20 minutes of the waking day try and eat something but believe me the difference it makes to your metabolism is absolutely amazing. It’s not like the rush you get from ingesting 2 cups of coffee in the morning but the more slow burning, ramping up feeling.

Hang on. Phone call incoming that’s worth a blog post !!

Tagged ,

It’s the end of the road, quite literally

So who would have taken the bet that’s a fat one like me who’s done nothing but a desk-based job for majority of his life would’ve made it through five weeks of manual labour?

Well that being said I still have to get through to day shift which hopefully will only be three hours and then we are knocking off early.

In fact I’m not going to say any more so I don’t jinx myself. Will update shortly.

Another case of speaking too soon

The sun has continued to shine meaning that we’ve had a consistent spell of glorious weather. What spirits cannot be lifted by having a decent bout of sunshine and lovely weather.

Today is the day I make it past the four week mark, something that I thought I wouldn’t actually be able to do. Truth be told I’m stuck with it just to prove a point to myself and to the guys who set me up with this position.

Just to give a little bit of background context last year a guy called Jack was doing this very same job. Jack is one of those types who should be in the army as he’s big, muscles but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. constant workout gym routine he would be well to be a labourer. Yet he didn’t make it past a week and a half.

The pub I frequent on the Friday and Saturday is full of builder types and I have a sneaky suspicion that there was a bet that I wouldn’t last more than a week. Anybody who knows me will know that if ever a bet is placed against me I will destroy myself to win no matter what the cost.

So always good up until about 1 PM where we got taken off our normal stretch of road to go in work on one of the busy a Roads in town.

Instead of two of us there was four of us and so in my world this became a competition to see who could do the most amount of land given the two hours allotted to us.

Petrol, check. Twine, check and with a pull of the ripcord my machine rattled into life.

All was going well, I was cutting great swathes of grass with sunder, I was a one man agricultural machine ripping up the hedges and the grass verges with aplomb.

Then just as I was thinking I had survived four weeks things started to go a little bit wrong.

Reaching the quarter mile mark my machine then decided it had no more strimming twine. Normally one of us would have some spare in our pockets but of course on a Friday, nearing home time, this was not the case resulting in a walk with the sun beating down on me in my safety gear back to the van and then back to where we had all stopped. Fortunately one of the other guys had also run out so I didn’t feel too bad that it was just me.

As I was fixing my machine somebody pointed out to me that the petrol was coming out from the. Upon investigation it seems the all important washer to stop fuel leaking and it was no longer there.

Restrung and refuelled I grabbed the pull cord to bring her back to life. Normally she starts to treat without any hassle but no, not on a Friday, as on the final part of the cord came away from the machine.

The bollocking when something like this

“Well you’re just fucking useless, that you might as well have not fucking teamed off and might as well just fuck off home”

With that I picked up my machine I walked another third of a mile back to the van and started to load up.

Needless to say I was feeling pretty dejected at this point. I thought I had cracked four weeks of decent grafting without another major incident and then last thing I get a bollocking through, to be fair, no fault of my own.

The bloke who gave said bollocking actually saw me as I did all of my three checks before going off to do the job.

As I walk back to the van I get a phone call from him to say can I run up to the yard and going get the cord fixed.

If all had gone to plan I was going to have finished by 2 PM today but going to get everything fixed took another hour of the day.

Truth be told I am still a little bit pissed off with the bollocking. I’m not letting going to bug me that much Dave after all I survived, and I do mean survive, longer than anyone gave me credit for.

Getting up at 6:45 AM is actually quite a pleasurable experience. I’ve also learnt that eating something within the first few waking moments of a new day does have a considerable impact on you for the rest of the day. It really does make a huge difference.

We have the best part of a week left on this job I’ve got to say that for the most I really enjoyed the experience of working outdoors and doing something practical rather than being sat at my desk all day looking out the window at the sunshine.

What’s next?

I don’t exactly know I have a little bit of a hankering to try AnD get some work in a city/town environment but that’s for my next blog post.

Work update as requested.

After last weeks calamitous error of crashing the bosses car into the back of the Council van I’m glad to report that I still have a job.

20140721-145926-53966691.jpg

In a bizarre twist of two days later driving at the train. I don’t have any problem is I’m never exactly driven a car with a trailer before. This is made all the more complicated by having a very short axle on the trailer which I’m told makes it a little bit more difficult than normal to do any reversing.

I’ll be the first to admit having a couple of days of driving up and down the road was much better than walking the 4 miles we have to do every day. Granted 4 miles isn’t exactly a big distance to cover that when you are doing the fact you’re carrying a strimmer, wearing all of the safety gear, and the weather is beating dying believe you me it becomes hard work very quickly.

So my day goes a little something like this.

6:45 AM alarm goes off.
7:05 AM for out of bed in agony from my body being so exhausted from the lack of sleep.

7:20 AM after packing my Field baby night before and trying to wake up I’m in the car and on the way to the Depot.

7:45 AM-ish. Go from my car to the Council van with my lunchbox. My lunch box is actually one of those tabs for storage that goes underneath your bed. The reason for this is that by the time you take two bottles of water, your breakfast, Sun tAn lotion antihistamine tablets and insect repellent you end up with quite a hefty amount to carry. But there is the benefit of it having a late so when it does rain all of my stuff is kept dry.

8:15 AM arrive on site, unpack the van into another van, my first whiff of two-stroke petrol in the morning whilst filling up the strimmer wait for the road signs to go out, which everybody ignores, and then start on a quarter mile stretch.

9:30 AM to 9:45 AM-ish. Finally it’s breakfast time. Try as I might I still can’t get into the habit of eating something immediately as I get out of bed. I do cheat a little bit by having a banana smoothie, home-made, and that usually keeps me going till now

10 AM here we go again. Time to do another mile and a half stretch which takes us up to.

12:30 PM-ish. Thank god lunch is about 30 to 40 minutes the distance covered by know is creeping up to the 2 mile points. Normally the sun just happens to be clear on any cloud cover leading to profuse sweating and having a T-shirt you can actually ring the sweat out of.

1 PM-ish the road signs have been changed I which means onto the next stretch of the day which is about another mile and a half. I forgot to mention when I say a mile and a half it’s actually 3 miles because you have to walk up one side and back down the other.

3:15 PM time to pack up. Road signs get dismantled, gear goes back into the van and then it’s the 20 minute drive back to the yard.

4 PM I’m back in my car and on the way home.

4:45 PM-ish. Time for a sit down and cup of tea, perhaps a quick nap.

5 PM. Walking time, about another mile of walking which takes 45 minutes going downhill right now because I’m absolutely knackered by this point

5:30 PM realise that I fell asleep, pastimes from all the manual work and start thinking about what to have for tea.

6 PM finally I can get changed
out of my work close into slightly more less rank smelling clothing.

6:30 PM start cooking dinner. Although it’s not just a case of cooking for the evening I have to get my breakfast ready for the morning as well along with what ever I’m going to have for lunch

7 PM, set a reminder to feed dogs.

7:45 PM finally have my tea

8 PM Time for another quick walk with the dogs

9 PM. Get back from dog walking, get all my work gear ready for the morning, park the car up and then finally I get to sit down in front of the idiot box

9:05 PM get bored with the television.

9:15 PM decide I’m going to catch up on shows that I’ve downloaded. Often this and that me being dragged into doing things like paperwork or updating my website.

9:30 PM try and fail to do website work. Or I often end up discovering yet another bug on my website design. This then leads onto looking for a no then you WordPress theme for about 45 minutes and realising, yet again, most WordPress themes are complete rubbish.

9:35 PM decide to have a glass of wine.

10:15 PM I realise now that I’m absolutely knackered and need to get into bed soon.

10:45 PM my weary carcass finally gets into bed.

11 PM try to drift off to the land of nod. This normally fails

12:05 AM finally I get to sleep if I’m lucky

Eat, sleep, strim, repeat

Crash bang wallop

Well it’s taken two weeks and one day to have my first major fuck up. I’m trailing behind the main work vehicle at a Junction and I saw him start to move off. Looking right I started to move off and instead of ending up in the road I managed to climb into the back of the work van.

The situation is obviously made worse by the van being the boss is fine. Granted it’s a really old Skoda type van but that’s not the point.

Needless to say I feel sick at the thought of going into work today. Best case scenario I get a major bollocking and I won’t be allowed to drive a vehicle again, worst case scenario: sacked.

After two weeks and one day of getting up at 6:45 and then pretty much working right through till 4 PM in the open air my body is now starting to feel it.

Granted there have been some positives, I’ve lost weight and even my hairdresser commented that my face look thinner a.k.a. I don’t look as fat.

Another plus side is that I’m eating way more healthier than I have done in perhaps the last year or two. That does come with a downside of when I get home and cook my tea and then also cooking my lunch for the next day and so I’m on my feet for about another two hours cooking.

I’m not entirely sure where I’m using all my time but I do know that it’s 10 PM before I can even start thinking about unwinding and relaxing.

Getting into bed for 11 PM but not being able to drop off before midnight definitely isn’t helping the situation any.

: The work for the majority of the time is quite enjoyable. It’s hard, sweaty, dirty work and a far cry from what I’ve done so far but I’m glad that I’ve taken a diversion for four weeks to be able to work outside and appreciate a summer.

With only just over a week and a half to go before it looks like I have to sign back on I’m going to make the most of it.

Well, that’s if I don’t get sacked for the second time this year.

Friday evening MUsing

In my now temporary four-week life of cutting hedges on the trunk road
My area get quite a lot of time to have a good old think.

If the truth be told I’m actually quite enjoying doing this sort of work. Wage saying as the “other” job that was offered to me and then subsequently taken away but ultimately this is way more fulfilling. Perhaps it’s because we get quite a lot of downtime lol.

Anyways the one thoughts that has been plaguing my mind is the fact I’m never going home again.

Imagine that for a seconds. The place where you grew up and the family that you is all of a sudden gone.

Granted that perhaps most people reading this are in long-term relationships now but it should still be quite a thought experiment.

This is what hitting me hard this week is knowing that with dad gone I’m never going to go back to the village he lived in.

Although I always felt a little bit out of place and out of sync with the village I knew that’s where my dad lived. To be told for some reason I never felt comfortable or settled there.

I honestly can’t put my finger on this strange feeling I get when I went back there. I mean why would I? Its not like I spent a significant part of my life there.

I only have a few scarce childhood memories of living back in the village. My main one being at the age of five or six my mum taking me to school in a white car asking me who I wanted to live with, her or dad. What a decision to have to make at such a young age

If it’s anything like my last 10 years of decision-making that was one hell of a bad choice.

Anyways when dad told me a couple years ago that he was going to build a small extension to give me a home I finally felt that was the right time to go home. That’s where my half sister was, my dad and I felt like for once I might have been able to be part of my family for once.

The plan was that whilst my dad’s wife and my half sister were on holiday we would build this and I would move in so there would be no objections.

Being slap bang by The M5 and the M4 It would also mean my job opportunities would exponentially increase. I spoke to dad about all of this two weeks before his untimely demise.

With him gone my dream and his dream was gone as well but like I said to him he was always going to go and leave something unfinished.

Is it better to have a dream and to risk having a dream taken away from you or not to dream at all?

Little updates.

Where to start? Okay so it looks like any possible adventures with the doctor has no being kicked into touch. Despite my best efforts asking leading questions that invite conversations all I’m getting are quick to word answers.

Snelly you are the master of this sort of stuff so if you have any suggestions let me know. AP has once again been fantastic supporting me in my latest disastrous attempts to try and flirt with a member of the opposite sex.

Anyone else ever get those days where sometimes you feel that you don’t have much luck with this sort of thing because it’s the way you look and if you get past that hurdle send me your personality takes a vacation?

Next up on the agenda is Marlin financial services. This is going to be a topic into itself but hopefully I found a forum with some good advice to try and ended dispute about a credit card I had back in 2007.

In yet more legal manglings I have to decide whether or not to accept the offer given to me from my dads wife solicitors or is to dig my heels in.

Right now 2014 has given me its fair share of kickings so there is a small, very small temptation to take some money, find a plot of land, I’m stick a caravan on it. It’s just a shame the money I’m being offered wouldn’t even buy a reasonably nice new car.

But for once though I’m going to end on a good night and update you with my latest adventures in strimming.

That’s right, in a complete departure from my usual work I’m now subcontracted to the council strimming

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.