Welcome to the last of my Horndean recollections.
Now you know the correct way to do the job from reading part one yesterday, lets now spend a little time talking about how Steve normally went about it shall we?
Not all loads can be neatly carried on pallets or with a block grab. Sometimes the brickies only needed a couple of bands of bricks or blocks. In this particular case Steve picked up a battered old pallet with four or five bands of heavy concrete blocks still partially held together by the rusting metal band around the top layer. The brickies labourer stood there on the first lift, making sure he was far enough away in case of an accident.
As usual Steve rushed around the site like a headless chicken at twenty mph, kicking up clouds of dust and sending people diving for cover as his telescopic bore down on them. “They’ve got designated walkways now, since the contracts manager did a moan at me, and made me put up them crowd barriers. They should bloody well stay behind them, instead of cluttering up the roads son,” he said to me once. “The road’s is for us, not them. If they gets in me way that’s their bleeding lookout!”
Steve pulled up in front of the protective scaffolding surrounding the building in a cloud of dust and screaming brakes and began lifting the load in the air before his telescopic had stopped moving. The boom extended and the load poked precariously over the top of the scaffold rail in the general area where the brickies labourer needed the blocks. As he lowered the battered pallet with its shaky, heavy load onto the raised platform of scaffold planks that acted as the brickies work area, the underside of the boom crushed the scaffold pipe holding the mesh brick guards and bent it out of shape so badly that the scaffolders had to renew it. “Just an accident son, could have happened to anyone,” he said later, dismissing the whole affair as we ate our lunch in his tiny domain.
On another occasion he had to bump out some large steel ‘I’ beams for the chippies, leaving them in the road where the chippy in charge had sensibly hired a crane for the day to lift them into place. Steve swung in there like a formula one driver; knocking over the crowd barrier fencing with the large wheels of his telescopic to retrieve the ‘I’ beams from a tangled pile. As his foot hit the gas, the boom shot horizontally across the ground and buried the forks into the pile of beams. Then he began lifting the boom as he tried to extract his load from the pile. The more weight he lifted, the more altitude his back wheels gained. Guess who wound up doing the job in the end when he gave up red-faced after we all clapped and jeered?
As the site shrank and the wooden fences for the back gardens of the houses cut off what was left from retrieval behind the buildings, Steve decided that a rusty old mini bin full to the brim with broken bricks swimming in black, stinking, disease ridden water needed to be got out, which coming from him actually made good sense. Although why it hadn’t been done when the access was still available weeks earlier before I arrived, frankly baffled me. This gave him another perfect excuse to skive while I did all the work. He drove through the hole in the perimeter fence and across the muddy open ground behind the site, skirting piles of reclaimed black soil that were being processed by large machinery.
I knew he’d done the job, when I had to go in there myself a few days later. The tracks from his telescopic where still there. It was a wonder he didn’t tip over sideways judging by the angle of the tracks! They ran round the lower slope of the freshly sifted black soil a few inches away from the wooden fence. Black tyre marks could be seen all along the fence, and when I looked over into the garden, a great pile of brick rubble lay there glistening in the wet earth. Steve had somehow got the mini bin out of the garden while leaving its contents behind!
The job of emptying the mini bins into the skips was normally my job. Steve was always too busy; at least that’s what he always told me. I was doing the job properly one day soon after I arrived on site, when Steve skidded to a halt beside me in a cloud of dust and those screaming brakes. “No no son, that’s not the way to do it. Here, go on get out of it, I’ve been doing this all my life, son. I’ll show you how I does it, alright son.”
Steve climbed back into the cab of his telescopic and motioned for me to reverse out of the way. I watched as he swung round and partially skewered the mini bin on his forks, and then as the telescopic’s engine roared, the boom shot into the air with the mini bin hanging on for dear life! Steve tipped the load forward and the mini bin began sliding off the forks, only stopping when it came to rest on the edge of the large skip.
The engine roared as he rapidly bounced the mini bin and the telescopic up and down on its large tyres, dislodging its contents partially into, but mostly on the ground beside the skip. Then he lowered the boom, at the same time levelling the forks, as he roared off in a cloud of dust to return the mini bin to where I had picked it up earlier. They say you learn something new each day. In less than thirty seconds that day, I had learned how to destroy a mini bin and create a big mess in the middle of the road into the bargain!
On another occasion one of the gangs of brickies needed some heavy concrete blocks delivered to where they were working at the back of the site. The spot that Steve chose to store the pallets of heavy stacked concrete blocks, square on to the road, making it virtually impossible to retrieve them, was at either side of the narrow road on a corner between two loading bays, leaving barely enough room to manoeuvre any vehicle let alone a telescopic.
I watched along with most of the others in the vicinity as he swung around in his usual hurried fashion and tried to fit the telescopic into the tiny space, completely blocking off the road, and the access to the loading bays. He got it in there alright at a 90° angle to the road, but it left him no room to operate the boom and forks. We watched as he dislodged the top two layers of blocks on the upper pallet with the working head at the end of the boom. Then he lowered the forks to the ground and drove them in under the pallets. The inevitable result was that both pallets were totally destroyed as the whole lot tumbled to the ground in a great heap.
But that didn’t bother Steve, because now he had plenty of room to successfully pick up one of the pallets previously hidden by the ones he had just destroyed! As he drove past me with an embarrassed grin on his face, he rolled his eyes, flicked his head up, and gave me that “bloody hell” look of his before disappearing round the corner in a cloud of dust. He never did clean up or try to retrieve the undamaged blocks from the mess. As usual that was left to muggins!
As the brickies worked their way around site, moving from lift to lift, their labourer would usually try to stay ahead of them by loading out the mixture of lightweight blocks for the internal part of the walls, heavy concrete or cinder blocks for the interior load bearing walls, and bricks for the outer cladding of the house.
As usual Steve was nowhere in sight whenever the labourer needed him. So I lent a hand by bumping out for the poor bloke. Steve was probably sitting in his cab in front of the pug mixer talking to someone, while waiting for the next gauge to be mixed. Or he may have been up in the office trying to teach Keith how to do his job yet again – otherwise known as teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. Or maybe he had picked up the mini skip for the water supply to the mixer and gone off to fill it, stranding the poor bloody labourer without any water, preventing him from mixing the next pug gauge. Who knew for certain? With him anything was possible!
After I had bumped out for the labourer, Steve would eventually turn up with a “what did you do that for son, that’s my job,” look on his face and then not talk to me for hours – which suited me fine.
At the end of the day, Steve would once again assume his imagined role of ‘Site Agent’ and delegate me the task of retrieving and emptying the brickies pug bins from the loading bays, while he rushed round the site ‘taking care of things.’ Emptying the pug bins was beneath him somehow, I never really understood why. I still don’t all these years later.
So there you have it – some examples of how not to bump out…
Thank goodness Steve never got his hands on one of these beauties while I worked with him. The amount of damage he caused with a twelve metre telescopic was bad enough…