It was a cold March morning, and snow had been falling intermittently. I was glad to be doing a van-based delivery on a day like this. The snow ceased as I drove to Whitfield and began my round, stopping the van and delivering to a few houses, driving a little further then stopping again. I turned left into a narrow lane, grabbed the mail for the first house - which stood apart from the rest - ran to the door and posted the letters, shivering as I returned to the van. I went to open the driver's door but it seemed to be jammed. "How queer," I thought to myself as I tried the handle again. "It's as if it's locked..." My eyes opened wide and a feeling of dread descended on me. Not wanting to believe the logical explanation my brain was offering me, I walked to the other side of the vehicle and tried the passenger door. That was locked too. How about the back of the van? Yup, locked.
I resumed my position outside the driver's door, and tugged fruitlessly on the handle - as if my super-human strength would allow me to force the door! I could hear Chris Moyles voice drift up from the radio, and the sound of the blowers circulating lovely hot air around the cab, over the noise from the engine. No, of course we're not meant to leave the motor running while we're outside the vehicle, but I was only going to be out for a minute, and this was a safe neighbourhood so I figured it'd be okay. It never occurred to me that I would accidentally trigger the central locking as I exited the vehicle. Surely you shouldn't be able to do that? "Stupid van," I muttered under my breath, whilst thinking: "Stupid girl!"
The frustrating thing was that just five minutes before I'd had the window wound down several inches - enough to fit my arm in, I was sure. But snow had drifted in and landed on my face, so I closed the window. Whilst thinking this, I noticed that the passenger window was very slightly open, half an inch maybe. I raced around the vehicle, and managed to force my fingers into the tight gap, heaving the glass in a downward direction. It wouldn't budge. Even with the fingers from both hands in there, and my feet off of the ground, I couldn't shift it at all. I started to pick the rubber seal away from the door frame at the top, then thought about what I was doing and realised it wouldn't help in the slightest; I think panic may have been creeping in by this stage. I weighed up my options: I could maybe break a quarterlight window and get in that way...or I could bite the bullet and phone the office and tell them what I had done.
Sighing, I reached in my pocket for my phone, groping around when I couldn't find it. After checking that and the rest of my pockets a number of times I was forced to confront the cruel truth: my phone was not on me. My eyes darted to the house I'd just delivered to, and I inwardly groaned; I'd have to share my embarrassing predicament with even more people, and throw myself on their mercy. I spent the next five minutes trying in vain to force the doors and windows, then took a big breath, approached the house and knocked on the door.
"I'm very sorry to bother you," I said to the nice lady who opened it. "But I've stupidly locked the keys and my phone in the van - would you mind if I used your phone to call the office?"
"Oh you poor thing," she said. "They're going to give you some stick, especially with the fact that you're a girl. Come in." She moved the welcome mat so I could stand on it and reach the telephone, and I stepped into the house...half missing the mat and leaving a dirty heal print on her carpet. I didn't know the direct number - although it was programmed into my mobile phone - so I called the number on the back of the "Sorry, you were out" card. After listening for an age to an electronic voice, I managed to get through to an office...not my office though! The woman I spoke to took the number I was calling from, apologising for laughing as she did so, and got my boss to phone me back. I explained what a silly moo I was, and he agreed to drive up with the spare key when he got a chance.
The kindly lady offered to make me a coffee and said I could wait in the house, but shame (increased by my muddy footprint glaring at me from her cream carpet) forced me outside, and I thanked her profusely as I returned to the van.
After half an hour, the undeniable humour of the situation was beginning to wear a little thin, as the cold, damp morning seeped beneath my coat. "Oh well," I thought to myself. "At least it isn't snowing." Right on queue a wet splatter of sleet hit me on the back of the neck. Great. I spent around 45 minutes in total pondering on the lessons I had learned before my boss turned up. Fortunately he didn't administer a ticking off - maybe he realised I'd suffered enough. I unlocked the van door with the spare key, apologised for the inconvenience I'd caused and slipped gratefully into the warm cab where I began to thaw out.
I'd like to say it was all plain sailing from there on, but half an hour later I failed to put the hand brake on hard enough, and turned around to see the bright red van rolling away from me down a slight slope. Fortunately I was able to open the door and leap into the moving vehicle, yanking on the hand brake and bringing it to a stop. At least I hadn't locked myself out of it on that occasion!
Visit SerenityPhotography.co.uk, where you can buy beautiful pictures from around the world . . . all taken by yours truly!