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Cutting through traffic

by POETSKY about a year ago in Humanity
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As a child, about nine or ten years old, I was with my brother (who in his teens... came across more than a few beautiful little cars, like minis, and metros... all twin cams and turbos. His good friend Augustine.. oh boy! could he swap engines, and seats, and wheels, and things. One day I was with a friend, his name was victor. we were together in my brother's latest boys toy. I can't remember if he just offered or if I asked, to learn, but all I can remember is it being my turn. I'm in the drivers seat, facing the steering wheel, rev counter and speedometer, barely was able to see over the dash. nevertheless I did nothing rash as I listened keenly to my big bro who stressed clutch control over and over again. Before I knew.. I was on a roll, start stop, start stop, start stop.. each time adding a strand of nerve, between my brain, and my left foot.. now clutch down put it in second and ease it up... then third... I was driving. Changing gears was something my brother or father would allow me to do as a nipper in the eighties, as was steering. many times I had helped my mum into, or out of, a tight parking space with my natural spacial awareness. I even graduated to fully contracting of the job of parking for her sometimes. Then came the naughty years. I'd steal my mother's keys and go driving to see my friends, or just for the pure pleasure ... (a sort of benign joy ride), even tried to give it the big shot a get a date lol. I had and engine problem once as a sign I was on the wrong path however I was under the thinking that so long as I return the car in one piece, spent fuel replenished (about a fivers worth or so), preferably parked back in the same spot... then no harm was done. Needless to say I grew out of that attitude with maturity and responsibility. Came a time I was seeking a profession of some sort or just something to do, and so i trained as a courier, got an NVQ level 2 "delivering goods by road", and got myself a job as a motorcycle courier. this is when I learned the humble "Lifesaver" (a simple look over your shoulder to see what is happening around you), and well... I still got knocked over many times. Mostly by cab drivers. however those experiences came with the proverbial silver lining as firstly.. I learned. I learned all sorts of stuntman type breakfalls. I learned how to eject myself from my bike or bycicle in the split seconds before a collision. rather like a struck fighter pilot. I learned how to roll along the floor (like Arnie in T2... the liquid nitrogen scene) and get up and get myself off of the road before being struck again because the moving traffic isn't stopping soon enough an action man. I learned to read and interpret the roads from a much more vulnerable and defensive standpoint! I learned to take care of myself! and that my safety, was in my hands! and more specifically, in my brain! all of which had the side effect of me scoffing at helmets for a while. Those and bike lanes. For the reduced agency and self responsibility and (one of my favourite all time road safety related words)... Anticipation. with maturity I now see clear cut bike lanes, well planned, and safely designed, with zero confusion or ambiguity, and well fitting, properly fastened, helmets as essential components of health and safety. Naturaly I moved on eventually becoming a driver's mate after joing an employment agency. In actual fact, I was a mate for many years. Having my first taste of being a white van man whilst out with my dad, helping him with his work for some pocket money. He delivered parcels, and I'd go out with him, to a lovely rural area called Buckinghamshire, which was his patch. I'd see how the other half and was always impressed to see all the lovely greenery, leafy villages and beautiful house with names and not numbers. finding them was easy, as it was so exciting to do so. my eyes eyes were naturaly peeled. I had a great experience and it was also a time of good man to young man bonding with my father. I got good excercise, running catalogues and boxes from the van to the doors. many a time was a moment of connection when we be offered a drink or a tip or a look around at some beautiful home or garden (the type with a lake and acres of Greenery.. maybe a horse etc) it was a far cry from hackney Islington or Camden etc. Courtesy, and invitation, a drink and relaxation, it was nice, and also a lesson in life.

in my late teens I was just like any other young buck, no licence etc, wrecklessly crazy, but in those days there was no anpr, and you could get away with a note on your car, saying... "tax in the post". With all that experience, it wasn't long before I was ready for my test, and so I went for it, but went for it as direct and alone as I could. I simply couldn't afford to be fleeced by a driving school, so I had an assessment lesson (recommended by them), I took notes, skipped the rest, and booked my test, and waited while practicing, in my own dodgy runabouts. I borrowed my sister's car and my dad as a full license holder for the big day, however I wasn't sucessful straight off. After failing to pass the first, as I was late and missed the examiner, and failing the second, for not having appropriate id, I finally passed my driving test first time. Albeit third time lucky. I sort to put it to use by joined an employment agency and registering my availability. I delivered and shunted cars all sporadic agency work, then I worked for gwb ("general welfare of the blind"...I believe if I recall precisely)... a company who made the most exquisite beds, and employed visually impaired and blind people to do so, all of whom were the most skilled at their craft, they made bespoke beds of the highest quality, comfort, and durability. They were such amazing people, and products, some of the most awesome I've seen in my entire life. I got myself a bed in a deal with my governor. It was the most comfortable bed I have ever layed on to date, and provided refreshing sleep for at least ten years. A superior quality of craftsmanship went into these things. I was a driver's mate to a Scotsman, with whom i bonded really well. We were buddies, and worked well together, delivering beds, in and around places like Oxfordshire, Cirencester, the Cotswolds etc. We'd sometimes enjoy a wealthy persons garden upon invitation to usually this was accompanied by a cold glass water or lemonade or some refreshment. again a joy of a time. The driver's mate days went on, and by the end I knew traveling was going to be my friend, and I wanted to be a driver. After some years I eventually gained a HGV licence, and within a few more weeks landed a job, delivering fresh produce, meat, and soups, to a chain of restaurants called wagamama. That was the first time I drove a split shift, first time I used a tail lift, first time I was entrusted with keys and alarm codes, and a huge monster of a vehicle, first time I smashed a car, and made it pop like a balloon (and all I had to do was pick up and clip a small panel back into place), first time I was at the other end of the road traffic pecking order. I gained much experience, especially in night time driving, and also the night life in central London. Then there was a time I was sitting at home and my mate called.. "what you doing I've got some work". I got on it and the next thing... me and ten to fifteen at times of the old school boys are all working together as a team, and I mean the A team, it was great. We had so much fun, so much jokes and laughter lots of rocking and rolling, time on the road, hotels, it was really fun. Aside from fun, we did the most magnificent work, and left a trail of ecstaticly surprised customers in our wake. They couldn't stop singing our praises, although sometimes in contrast, to their initial shock and concern, having never experienced a large group of lively, loud, boisterous, young, black men, turn up to undertake their removal. It was great fun, and I learned that work must be fun, and that I indeed do excel, in my role as a driver. I learned the importance of making your work speak for you, delivering quality, more to the point, a smile, and happiness, which is immediately karmic. I learned that the city of Edinburgh is a really beautiful place, in that time that was a stand out for me. we did a fair bit of the Midlands and London too. It was very satisfying, to leave people very satisfied, with our services and skills. my next port of call in these recollective ramblings would be when I delivered water. In the summer I was like an oasis in a desert. I was like the diet coke man, or the man from delmonte. I learned to get my truck into, and out of, anywhere, and everywhere. even learned to make it suck its belly in (the truck). in this job Id also say the same with my mind it opened me up to people, and places, and experiences, of a vast range, and depth, and colour, and tone. It was one of the richest jobs I ever did. Gruelling, but rich in experiences that helped to shape me. it also fulfilled me. I really enjoyed it, and was happy with all but the physical brutality of it. I'd go from the highest echelons of society, to high street and corporate banks, defence contractors, to mason halls, Pixar studios or embassies, crossrail sites, hospitals, schools the oval cricket ground, London underground stations, it goes on, and on, and on. I'd go to the lowest echelons. find myself in prisons, and psychiatric hospitals, desperate to be released. I gained experience and knowledge of places like a black cab driver. I gained understanding of things and became exposed to every corner and level of society. That was my favourite part. Broadening my horizons, which actually honed my communication abilities, and social dexterity skills. from the most clinical, to the most rugged institutional, private, public, big or small, you name it I did it, went there that is. I loved the feeling walking into a bank and straight through the airlock like a VIP. Bae systems I saw some kool stuff and ate some really nice lunches there., Rich or poor, council estates, millionaires rows, it was so varied, and I loved it. Having access to places I'd never ever go to ordinarily, or be allowed to, outside of my role as a humble water man. Everyone drinks water that's how universal I felt. I cut some teeth, made some mistakes, had a learning curve or two. Got stuck in mud, in the middle of a park. Had to be rescued in the dark. My firm was billed for the repair of turf destroyed as a result. One bad day I ripped some parking barriers clean out of the ground at Stanstead airport, costing about £16000 in insurance claim. I destroyed a man's tailgate in a psychiatric hospital car park. It was a great experience being a Water man. Imagine how vast, the experience, of honing my craft was, as I experienced all of those things and people and places etc, only with the help of a workhorse, which I came to know very well, as well as all the roads, up, down, around, and across the country. Being the "relief" driver that was, the person who, covered all routes. London, surrounding counties, Kent, Essex, Sussex, Surrey, Herts etc. I even went to Glasgow (met the "MD"), drove there to deliver the vehicle, and flew back with Ryan air. I was well know from top to bottom in that company. I only left because my partner had a stroke, and I needed the time to look after her. one day my manager pressed and said "hey we need more hours from you whats it gonna be?" ...I said I'll look after her I am very sorry, thank you for everything during my time here. a year or so passed and I was beggining to feel desperate financialy. Once again I was approached by a friend, who says to me, "hey... what you up to? I have got some work if you want some"... as if by divine intervention. His timing was miraculous. his dad runs his own firm so now I travel the length and breadth of the country, seeing north, to south, to west, to east. Every different city, I feel like I've seen, or been to, if not, it's just down the road to me. Down the road is everywhere, if it's not down the road its up the road. Cultured is how I feel. I've patience for things that take time, like being restricted to 56 mph, whislt covering many miles. I have eyes all about me like a spider, all round 360 degrees, observation n surveillance skills... connected to realtime, lightning fast, processing, algorithmics and reflexes. I sense and fill space like hydrogen gas. I can beat anyone at real life Tetris and distribute weight like a see saw. I stick to the ground like water. I cut through space and time with scissors in my mind. I have my own flow, yet synchronise at the same time. I become one with all around me, like a fish in a shawl or a school, or any species, in any kind of swarm. Critical, decisive, independent, free and rebellious. Agency and style, my own direction and perception. I can feel weight transference like a pendulum, by the gram. sometimes I see angles that nobody else can. I used space like a footballer, sometimes like an artist. I safeguard life, health and safety, and goodwill. In everything I do, I try and do it safely. my scissors is also my vehicle. Cutting through whatsoever cannot stand in its way, or out force, its many tonnes, of weight, and horsepower. I don't cut through pedestrians, or cyclists, or motorcyclists, or cars, or vans ,or buses, or coaches, or other lorrys, or low bridges, or bollards, or railings, or trees, or lampposts, or any kind of street furniture, or infrastructure, or property. I only cut through air! space, and time, is mine to craft, any manuevre I dare. I have the wheel, and the pedals, and I have the skill. I create smiles through happiness and joy. I create jobs for businesses to employ. I create goods on shelves and menus. I create money and profits and good news. I create business and win win relationships. I create a safe space for vunerable road users. I create harmony, and peace, and love, and respect...

all through my roadcraft! Which I love for many reasons! There's nothing, than can be predetermined, or pre empted.. except in real time. I remain on constant alert, and in full concentration, as to all the happenings around me. In the words of Bruce I am "like water" moulding to my circumstances as they stream along. Adapt! to any and everything. One could adapt, in any number of ways, even change a plan midway, needless to say to an alternative, already laterally considered. It's an extremely open, fluid, and creative process, roadcraft. being on the road is also cathartic, with lots of precious, free, quality time, to think. I think up all sorts of things, and thoughts, and emotions, and ideas... dreams, rhymes, philosophies etc... it's a very creative process sometime on the cutting edge of brilliance or inspiration I've honed my craft for many many years, and in many many situations. I have always got as much out of it, as I have put Into it. I have brought joy and relief to others, and even really enjoyed sharing my story here. this is how I became a master craftsman in roadcraft and and tiny insight into my craft and how it makes me feel.


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