An Unexpected Travel Opportunity

Welcome to Arizona

Before I moved to Lincolnshire I used to work for a French waste (mis)management company called Onyx UK that thanks to Margaret Thatcher and Tory privatisation policies of the 1980s had an overly optimistic business plan to take over refuse collection services in the UK and I worked at a depot in Maidenhead in Berkshire and managed the Windsor contract.


The company was always losing money and as a result trying to cut costs and one day in February 1997 the Managing Director, a man called Percy Powell, telephoned me to tell me that he had heard of a new type of refuse collection vehicle with impressive labour saving innovations that offered potentially huge operational efficiencies and that he was interested in finding out more.  He asked me if I would be prepared to visit the factory where they were manufactured and give him my opinion.

To be honest I had very little interest in bincarts or how they are made, I considered them to be an expensive inconvenience, dirty, smelly and noisy but fortunately, before I could prematurely decline, he happened to mention that the factory was in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States of America and almost instantaneously my distinct lack of interest transformed into euphoric enthusiasm.

Did I want to visit Phoenix to see some dustcarts?  You bet I did!

And so a couple of weeks later on a miserable wet day I drove to Heathrow Airport and met my travelling companions in the departure lounge. Dave worked for the company and despite having no real technical background or training, had managed to convince everyone that he was an expert on all things vehicles and procurement.  Then there was Keith who was a contract manager from Norwich and who was just as mystified as I was why he had the good fortune to be selected for this task, but like me wasn’t complaining. Finally Allan and Ben who worked for the vehicle manufactures Jack Allen and who hoped to interest us in their exciting new dustcart range.

It was a long flight with North West Airlines but there was free drink and hot food and we made each other laugh while we misbehaved like excitable little boys going to summer camp and the first leg of the journey passed surprisingly quickly and after eight hours we landed in Dallas, Texas to make our connecting flight to Phoenix.

This involved a tedious four hour wait hanging around the shopping malls and the book shops which was excruciatingly dull, but we also spent some time, well, most of it actually, in the airport bar which was a much better alternative and it gave Dave the opportunity to begin his quest to spend Allan’s entire years hospitality budget in just three days.  Dave it seemed had a gluttonous appetite for beer and burgers and it started right here in Dallas.

Finally we made the second leg of our journey to Phoenix, or to be strictly accurate, Scottsdale, and once successfully through passport control and the typically unfriendly, pit-bull snarling US customs officials we picked up the people carrier hire vehicle and made the short journey to the motel where we had reservations courtesy of Jack Allen.

We had been travelling for sixteen hours and Allan, Ben and Keith all declared themselves weary and ready for bed but Dave wasn’t finished just yet and he coerced me into going to the bar for last drinks and a final burger.  I confess that this wasn’t difficult.  The term ‘last drinks’ usually implies a quick twenty minute round up but once Dave had got the taste for the beer, Allan’s room number for charging it to and had fallen in love with the attractive girl behind the bar we stayed for a good long session until, way past reasonable closing time, she  finally ran out of patience and decided to call time!

My travelling companions, Ben, Keith, Allan and Dave…

19 responses to “An Unexpected Travel Opportunity

  1. Pingback: An Unexpected Travel Opportunity | Have Bag, Will Travel

  2. That doesn’t look like you’re touring a plant . . . and you look good behind a desk.

  3. To be continued, I hope? Well, maybe not the burgers and beer ….

  4. I agree with Margaret, I’m also hoping for a part 2.
    Reading this reminded me of Brian, L BOB and his life stories, always a treat.

  5. The MD was no fool – he knew who to pick 🙂

  6. crazy boys’ weekend in the az!

  7. It’s expected to be 116 there today! Yikes.

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