This Life, by Gerry Moran
As if Covid 19 isn’t bad enough, but guess what happened to yours truly over the weekend? I ended up behind bars! Locked in! Locked up! Literally! And to make matters worse who should come to my rescue but a past pupil of mine!
Oh dear. He takes one look at me and laughs: ‘Jeez, I never thought I’d see the day, my former teacher behind bars, but do you know what’s killing me, Gerry?’ ‘Tell me.’ ‘I haven’t got my mobile on me.’ Thank God, I’m thinking, or I’d be all over Facebook, all over Facebook for the rest of my life.
It’s Saturday afternoon, I’m lolling in the armchair watching a movie on the telly. I should be watching sport but sport is a non-runner (apart from Cheltenham but I’m not going there) The missus is not impressed – sport she can cope with (has to cope with) but not some Hollywood B (possibly C) movie and announces: ‘That rubbish needs to go.’ I say nothing, not because I didn’t hear but because I’m in no mood to go to the dump. I’m happy self isolating in front of the telly, watching some rubbish movie, safe from Covid, and avoiding unnecessary social interaction.
And then: ‘Did you hear me?’ Ten minutes later I’m heading across town to the Greenstar Waste depot in Hebron. As I approach I realise it’s Saturday and they may be closed, but no, my luck is in, the gate is open and in I swing.
Mission accomplished I swing round to drive out but….the gate, the massive iron-gate, with the massive iron bars, slowly closes before my eyes and I get an awful feeling that I could be locked in as there isn’t a soul in sight.
No sign of life anywhere! Greenstar is in lockdown! I’m beginning to feel uneasy. It’s eerie in here. Surreal even. Ominously silent, it’s like a scene from a horror movie – any moment now I expect to see a zombie-like, putrescent creature emerge from the bowels of the huge, cavernous shed littered with the detritus of mankind.
And although I have not resorted to wearing a mask (not yet anyhow) in the face of Covid – I need one now. Above all, however, I need to get out of here. I ring directory enquiries for a number for Greenstar, Kilkenny but am given a Waterford number which rings out.
After half an hour of arsing around, staring up at security cameras (in the hope someone might spot me) and futilely trying various combinations on the gate’s keyboard system, I resort to the inevitable – I ring the wife. ‘Hi’, she chirpily replies.
‘We (note the plural) have a problem’, I sheepishly say. ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘I’m locked in.’ ‘Locked in?’ she asks alarmingly, ‘whereabouts and is it the virus?’ ‘I’m locked in, in the waste depot. I got in but I can’t get out.’
There is a silence down the phone that all married men understand, a silence that says one thing, and one thing only: ‘You eejit’.
Ten minutes later my wife arrives, looks at me standing, like a forlorn prisoner, behind the iron-bars of the gate, and says: ‘Might throw in a bag and let you self isolate for the weekend’ (my wife is of the opinion that self-isolation, away from each other, would do wonders for our marriage, for any marriage)
‘So, how are you getting out?’ ‘I’ll climb the gate, of course.’ ‘You will not, I have no intention of ending up in A&E with you.’ And off she drives.
Five minutes later, a large van with Flowers by Lucy emblazoned across it, pulls up and out steps Vinny Yeates, a past pupil of mine.
Vinny takes one look at me and laughs. Which is where I began. And thanks to Vinny, and his two ladders (I needed two) yours truly ‘escaped’ from the ‘wasteland’. My car, however, remained in lockdown. So, I left a note with a mobile number.
And boy was I glad to get home and finish the trashy movie I’d been viewing.
Two hours later my mobile rings: ‘Is this Gerry?’ ‘It is.’ ‘This is Ken in Greenstar, whereabouts are you?’ Ten minutes later Ken picks me up and soon I’m sitting in my car and homeward bound. Ken, and his co-worker Mark, were finishing a rubbish collection and saw my car, and note.
Guys, a five-star thank you, for your Greenstar kindness. And, Liam Barry, sincere thanks for the trouble you went to. A pint in the barrel in Peig’s for you - just not sure when you’ll drink, not sure when any of us will drink a pint again!