Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Comedy of Errors

Sometimes, things just don't stand a chance of going according to plan.

Just a routine repo job for some industrial equipment squirelled away to a remote location. What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a lot of things, actually, as it would transpire.

Timing is everything and it couldn't have been much worse. Let me explain...

You may recall that recently I have fallen upon what may euphemistically be called "hard times". Now, more than ever, I really have become that cliched Hollywood staple of the down-on-his-luck PI.

Less romantically, what that means is that I am constantly battling a cashflow crisis. It's all well and good invoicing out thousands of dollars but when there's nothing in the bank right now, what are you going to do? The end result is that, financially, things are a little tight. Actually, more like I'm surviving day by day.

I'm not complaining. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I just hope I've got enough steam to get me there.

However, the actual reality is that bills aren't being paid on time and sometimes services are being cut. Like my mobile phone (and this is important as it plays a vital part in what happens next).

So, let's get back to yesterday.

I get a call from one of my bead-and-butter out of town clients asking for an update regarding this repo job. Their client wasn't happy that it was taking so long and the message was get it done today or else they'll get someone else to do it.

Firstly, the reason it was taking so long is that it was an industrial piece of kit and I had made enquiries with the local agents as to the nature of it and whether I would need to bring tradesmen to disconnect it or could do it myself etc. Of course, no-one had gotten back to me by this stage.

Promising I would at least visit the site today I then discovered that I had made a false assumption. The rural town I had thought I would be visiting was incorrect, there was one of a similar name almost twice the distance that was the actual destination. Already having promised that I would attend this afternoon, I had no other choice but to do so.

My fuel gauge was alarmingly low but surely there was enough for this one trip and back, no?

Ever the optimist, I set forth into the countryside. My first warning that things could go wrong came about two-thirds of my way to the location when the low fuel warning light came on. Oh well, I was committed now. Surely there's enough to get me there and back, right?

Finding the address was trickier than anticipated (I'd driven several kilometers past and had to retrace my route) but eventually I was at the right gate. It was padlocked. Unfortunately, my lockpicks were a victim to recent events so the only recourse was to jump the gate. As I have right of entry under a certain piece of governing legislation, no worries!

Once on the property I made my way to the house where, naturally, no-one was home. I then proceeded to check the outbuildings where the information I was given placed the item sought. Two of the three buildings were not in use and were open. The third, however, was locked up tight. Again, I had no lockpicks to assist entry so had to find another way in. There were several smaller doors that were not visibly locked, at least from the outside, but somehow blocked from within. Foiled again!

Around the back of the building was an external lean-to, placed over some ducting. There was a mounting bracket and a hole that suspiciously looked like should be filled by the item I was seeking. However, it was conspicuously absent.

There was also a small door. While jammed, I managed to force it open enough to squeeze through and get into the building. Once inside I proceeded to look for the item but it just didn't seem to be there. It looked like a case of faulty intel. Well, that wouldn't be the first time, would it?

Then as I turned to leave, something caught my eye. Nestled under some boxes by a workbench, wrapped in plastic, lay the item in question. Oh yeah!

Smaller than anticipated but heavier than it looked, I managed to wrestle it back to my vehicle at the front gate. Fantastic! I got out the Warrant and was completing the paperwork that I was obliged to leave behind when I noticed the first discrepancy.

The Warrant was for a WANSON, the actual unit was a RIELLO (but another piece of documentation stated it was a RIELLO).

The second discrepancy was that the serial numbers did not match.

Right, all this could possibly be cleared up with a phone call. Oh, wait, did I mention that my mobile phone service had been blocked? No outoing calls...

Right. Well, time to make an executive decision. I wasn't going to leave the item after having come all this way. As they say, it's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission, and I could always blame the instructions I was given.

So I loaded up the vehicle and headed back to the city. A check at the fuel gauge was none too promising, it's going to be touch-and-go. But as I got into the last town before home, I'd been driving the last 70km on 'E'. I realised I wasn't going to make it much further.

Luckily, I had my laptop and only needed to find a spot with wifi so as to be able to contact someone. Well, do you think country towns have a surplus of wifi hotspots? No? You'd be right!

I limped into the local McDonald's carpark (no wifi there either) and then considered my options.

As a last resort, I managed to contact my mobile phone service provider. Explaining to them my situation and that I'd been a loyal and steadfast subscriber over the last 6 or so years, could they please restore service. After all, it would only be a week or so before I could make payment.

Fingers crossed.

Well, no problem, they said. They restored service immediately and I was able to phone good old Saul Danson (not his real name) who came to the rescue with some money for fuel. 

Well, after all that hassle, the client calls me the next day asking that I return the item back to the owner and pick up a nominal sum of money that was barely more than the cost of me redelivering the item.

Are you kidding me?

No comments:

Post a Comment