A Nice Bright Smile

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A day in the life of a Meals on Wheels driver

Submitted: April 07, 2012

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Submitted: April 07, 2012

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A Nice Bright Smile

 

Walking across the yard I notice that Vinyl Vera hasn’t put in an appearance this morning. Vera is a blow up sex doll that one of the girls claims that she found in a skip. Someone has put a bra and knickers on her and on some mornings she is to be found belted into the passenger seat of one of the vans, ready to go out on the round. They call me Little Annie to differentiate between me, Huge Anne (bit harsh!) and Kitchen Anne. We all work for the Meals Service, whose white vans with the County Logo and “MEALS ON WHEELS” on both sides are lined up in the Depot yard. On the way to the Drivers waiting room in the Admin Block I exchange waves with a tall, angular girl we call “Boots”. She is wearing her yellow Meals on Wheels Tee shirt, cargo shorts and her signature Doc Martens. Boots never wears a bra under her tee shirt, much to the delight of some of our male clients. In the Drivers room there is the normal cacophony as conversations criss cross, every other word four lettered. Foul mouthed and sartorially challenged these girls may be but they genuinely care about the elderly clients they deliver to, which in my experience is more than some of the relatives do.

 

Eleven forty five and we are loaded and ready to go.  Chaos as twenty vans try to get out of the Depot gates at the same time. In three hours’ time the situation will rewind as twenty vans come tearing back – this time in packs of three or four.

 

My first drop is in the Council estate ten minutes away. As usual she is waiting at the gate. “You’re late, dear”.  She has probably been at the gate for hours. You could deliver at nine thirty and still be late. She shouldn’t be on her own. “Sorry, love.” A nice bright smile. I take her in, sit her down and make sure she is starting to eat the foil packed meal, which I have opened for her, before I leave.  The next drop is to the man the girls call “Mirror Man”. In his living room there is a large wall mirror and he had been complaining that “the man in the mirror” was stealing his meal and eating it. This situation continued until one of the girls suggested that we hang a towel over the mirror so that the other man couldn’t see what was happening. Problem solved. It’s his reflection of course, except that one of the girls said that, once, while she was hanging the towel, the man in the mirror winked at her. Rubbish. Just to be on the safe side I avert my gaze as I hang the towel.

 

Twelve thirty and I’m doing well – no hold ups or dramas. Out of the estate and into Burnt Ash Lane, which snakes through a rural valley.  I park in a layby and slog up the path to the row of cottages that sit on the top of the bank. At least it isn’t raining. The client always leaves the door ajar and as soon as I go in I know there is a problem. “Too quiet” springs to mind. There is a definite hush and even the outside noises are muted. She is in her armchair in the living room, slumped forwards. Her dentures have fallen out and are grinning at me from her lap. I touch her hand and it is cold – like touching marble. Without conscious thought I’m back in her hall dialling the third 9 on her phone. After I have spoken to Ambulance Control I ring the Depot to tell them that I am stopped awaiting Services and then go and sit on her door step and light a cigarette. It’s beginning to cloud over. After a few minutes an ambulance arrives and two Paramedics, weighed down with bags and boxes, hustle up the path. Full of urgent purpose they brush past me, only to retreat defeated. One shakes his head. Now the local beat car pulls up and a young PC gets out. He is about the age of my son and he doesn’t really know what to say to me but he does manage to give me a dirty look because I’m smoking. What does he expect? I give him contact details for myself and the Depot and ask if I can leave as I have other meals to deliver. He agrees and I walk back down the slope to the van. It’s definitely getting darker. Once I’m on my own in the van I take a few deep breathes and let the tears come. Poor old love, dying on her own like that with no one to hold her hand. The first heavy splashes of rain start to hit the windscreen. Oh great, now God’s crying as well. The thought makes me sniff and smile. The mobile on the dashboard chirps. Some wag has set the ring tone to “Crazy Frog”. It’s the depot. Have Services arrived and can I move on?  I turn the key in the ignition.

 

The next drop is a couple of miles up the lane and the rain has stopped. The client is waiting at her gate.

“You’re late, dear”.

 “A hold up down the lane” I say.  “Nothing for you to worry about”.

A nice bright smile.

 

The End

 


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