One thing I like about this job is the way that, after a while, you can picture what the area surrounding an unfamiliar place is likely to look like before you get anywhere near it. It is perhaps the most convenient of driving techniques. Perhaps even a mild superpower?
I was given a collection address in a small east Lancashire town not so long ago, and it was predictably hideous to get into: an old mill building surrounded by a warren of terraced houses, with cars parked on both sides of the residential roads and about enough room on either side of the wagon to squeeze in a fag packet, if you squashed it a bit first.
The sort of address designed to be serviced by, at best, a small rigid – or even a horse and cart. And that’s where you own personal repertoire of driving techniques come into their own.
We spend far too much time on big, multi-laned roads these days. Small towns require real driving techniques.
Many of the turns were so tight, and adorned with metal bollards, that you could only make them from one direction – and that wasn’t the direction I was coming from. Predictably, much driving past, turning ‘round and coming back at a different angle ensued.
Even with these driving techniques it took me nearly half an hour to cover the last half mile between me and the factory, and even then the loading bay turned out to be blindside on a corner, with two skips and a brick wall in the way.
You’d think I’d have a phobia about small East Lancashire towns as a result of terrain like this, but I actually quite like them. We spend far too much time on big, wide, multi-laned roads these days. Overcoming obstacles like these is where real skill and finely honed driving techniques are called for.
As I leaned back in my seat and put the kettle on during loading, I basked in the satisfaction of a challenge faced and conquered.
At least until I had to drive out again.
What are your driving techniques for small towns?