Twenty Years

I’ve been looking for the right location to get this shot for a while. I’d always been looking for a location outside of the station. There is an angle, but it’d require a panorama photo to get everything in, and a very distorted one at that. But I should have been looking for a spot inside the station. I found it today by chance. I strolled up to the very end of platform one, trying to get my ‘stand’ fitness ring to flick on another hour.

Within this photo is twenty years of my professional life. Sort of. Almost. If we are being precise, eighteen years and 10 months. If you want to start nit picking, then its about four years. I am standing on a railway platform, my employer for the last five years and eight months. But my role means I am not fixed to any single station. I move around. But I do a fair few shifts here. I feel that six months is a reasonable estimate.

To the left you can see a pair of canopies with blue strips around them. They belong to a petrol station. Once upon a time, it was owned by Star Service Stations Ltd, a division of Texaco. I worked for Star from 1996 through to 2005 when I fled to Mexico. Fled? Texaco sold all their Star sites off in 2005, most of them to Somerfield. I had no desire to be employed by Somerfield. Or Scumerfield, as we Star service station managers referred to them. I worked at the station in the photo from 2000 to 2001.

To the right of centre, in the background, is a large white office building. I spent about two and a half years of my four and half year long I4R career in this building. I mentioned I4R just days ago, with a photo of the building they occupied previously – the Chocolate Box.

The photo I really want to show you hasn’t been taken yet. It’s of my retirement pad, which doesn’t exist yet. But I’m working on it. Whether it is located in Mexico or in Portugal or elsewhere isn’t set in stone. I would hope that when I look back on my residence there, I can title the post Thirty Years. I’d settle for Twenty Years, I guess. The online ‘Guess Your Life Expectancy’ websites still take a dim view of my previous smoking habit, and suggest ten to fifteen years might be a more realistic target.


Wishful Thinking

Very nearly twelve years ago I cleared my desk and left my employment with Texaco for the third and final time. In my decade of service with them, I managed to leave three times. I was a serial quitter at. The first occasion was to try my hand at a different kind of service altogether, as an air traffic controller with the RAF. The Continue reading


Busman’s Holiday

Do you remember my bus story? A resolution has come to pass. It’s taken far longer than it should. And I never did get an answer as to how such incidents might be better handled in future. But I did, finally, get a response today which covers the costs I’d had to bear. And a little bit more. Next time I top up, I will get an extra two weeks added to my card at no extra charge.

Some companies do customer service really well. Southern Trains are a good example from recent personal experience. My train home from a recent day trip to Brighton was delayed by more than two hours. I filled out a simple Delay Repay form on their website, and I got a full refund of £40 in the form of rail vouchers within a fortnight. The delay wasn’t even their fault – someone threw themselves in front of a train in front of us. I feel I can almost forgive them for their appalling adverts- see below.

It’s all really so simple. Listen to the customer. Establish if you screwed up. Put things right with the customer. And work out how you’ll prevent it happening again. Oh, and make sure you keep the customer regularly updated. Anyone disagree?

Of course, some complaints are frivolous and without any real foundation. I encounter them on a daily basis in my current job. But the real classics were during my decade with Texaco. Some members of the public just have expectations that are a little too high.