Thankfully there was a later start planned for today so there was no great rush to get up in the morning and after a night on budweiser and gin this was most welcome.
The motel was a middle of the range business class sort of place and it had a belly-busting buffet breakfast table to make your eyes water. It had everything you could possibly want and the tables groaned under the weight of the food on offer.
There were various breads and bagels of course, oatmeal, porridge, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs or omelette, bacon, ham, sausage, hash browns, biscuits, toast, pancakes, waffles, bagels, French toast, cornbread, muffins, croissants, and doughnuts, fresh fruit, stewed fruit and dried fruit of various types and to drink, coffee, tea, milk and a full range of juices. No black pudding and I think US breakfasts should really start including that.
We kept Keith away from the eggs and I felt sure that with all this food this would surely satisfy Dave and his mighty appetite right through to evening meal.
At ten o’clock Mike picked us up from the lobby and drove us to a prearranged destination to see a vehicle demonstration. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the temperature was rising quickly.
After a while we located the vehicle in West Butler Drive, a middle class area in North Phoenix called Paradise Valley where every home had a swimming pool and a four car garage and the driver set about showing us exactly what the Rapid Rail side loader could do. Dave and Ben were especially excited because according to the Company literature this vehicle was a real winner…
“The STARR™ System is the most maneuverable full size collection vehicle in the world. The STARR can literally run circles around other trucks, going through cul-de-sacs with ease, and maneuvering in and out of tight spots without constant backing. The STARR™ is arguably the most productive refuse collection vehicle on the market today “.
Now, you don’t have to be an expert to in refuse collection to understand that one of the main problems that crews face is the amount of parked cars along narrow English streets that makes the job very difficult indeed. Here there were none, domestic estate roads were as wide as a freeway and every house had a driveway the size of a small council car park so there was nothing to stop this monster clanking machine from going about its work.
It was a typical North American truck oozing testosterone and full of levers and chains and it was immediately apparent that this vehicle was completely unsuitable for refuse collection in England but as we had been brought all this way to see it we had to make appropriate encouraging noises.
We asked how something this big would manage in a cul-de-sac but they had no idea what one of these is and a glance at the city map with roads laid out in a straight line grid system confirmed what we already knew. We wouldn’t be recommending Percy Powell to place an order for one of these. After a bit of head scratching (they didn’t want to take us to a poor or seedy neighbourhood) our hosts thought they had identified what we were looking for and took us on a long journey across town to the only cul-de-sac in the entire city, and that was wide enough for three trucks to turn around in all together so it was really a waste of everybody’s time.
For overseas visitors I feel that I should explain here exactly what a cul-de-sac is. The expression comes from the French, where it originally meant “bottom of the sack”. It was first used for dead-end streets in England from the early nineteenth century. They were popular with town planners in the days before every house has two or three cars to park up. George Orwell called the phrase ‘pretentious diction’, meant to give an air of culture and elegance to which they weren’t entitled.
After the street demonstration Mike took us to the Heil factory in Glendale where they make the things and we had a tedious tour of the workshops and a boring lecture about the technology that meant nothing to me whatsoever and all the while I could see through the windows that the sun was shining and I just wanted to be outside.
This might sounds a bit ungrateful but I just wasn’t enjoying this part of the trip. Rather than heavy engineering I was always more of a spread sheet sort of manager I preferred the Grand Canyon excursion. But I suppose it was the real reason for the visit and I tried as best as I could to try and stay focussed and show some interest in the Rapid Rail and the STARR system equipment, the Formula 7000 Square body and DPF Formula 7000 automated side loaders, the Formula 7000 split body co-collection automated side loaders and the DPF Half/Pack front loaders. Finally we got to go outside and Dave and Ben played with the trucks and the bin lifts and I wandered around kicking tyres and waiting for it all to end.
Finally, after what seemed a lifetime or three, the visit was over and the Managing Director gave each of us a bag of corporate gifts which included a polo shirt and baseball cap which would come in handy for golf, a swiss army knife which would come in handy for practically everything and some unusually high quality pens.
We left the factory and Mike drove us to a restaurant for lunch in downtown Scottsdale on North Drinkwater Boulevard. It was a very nice restaurant indeed and we had a buffet lunch at a table that was overlooking the Scottsdale Stadium Baseball Park.
Despite the full breakfast Dave surprised us all and managed a full meal but the rest of us selected something lighter and I had a rather nice seafood medley with some Californian white wine.
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I always liked getting corporate gifts . . . most were crap, but you could find the occasional gem.
I always liked a sleeve of golf balls!
I seldom lost any, so I preferred something I might actually get to use.
Plus, I was a golf ball snob . . . kind of wanted the brand I liked or nothing at all.
Heads up: nothing at all is easier to play, but difficult to find.
You can never have too many Swiss army knives
So true. I still have that one!
Strangely the French for cul-de-sac isn’t cul-de-sac. One thing I’ve never understood, in films especially, is that system whereby they talk about “17th and Walnut”, East 26th street, and “Sunset and Vine”. At least you know where you are (literally) with 221B Baker Street.
I assume it is because we don’t understand the concept of ‘blocks’ and how real estate works in the USA.
It seems that you enjoyed the trip immensely apart from when you had to do the boring stuff and remember why you were there. I’m glad you enjoyed the food, makes me hungry just reading about it. 😀
Getting on that trip was an amazing slice of good fortune.
I’ll bet it was and just perfect for you.
Wouldn’t be my bag either, except for the corporate gifts
A bag of gifts!
We have cul-de-sacs in Canada. They are often in more affluent neighbourhoods and very spacious.
Even today in UK they design cul-de-sacs which are a challenge for bin carts or delivery vehicles!
This had me chuckling, Andrew. I can picture you day-dreaming about being elsewhere with a cold beer in your hand. Cul-de-sacs have become fairly common in suburban America. In fact Peggy’s brother, who we just visited in Texas, lives on one. –Curt
I am willing to bet that they are a lot wider than ours Curt!
You’d win, I’m sure Andrew, but our small RV did seem to dominate. 🙂 –Curt
I suppose a few hours of boredom was a small price to pay for the rest of the trip!
Vehicle procurement never really interested me anyway.