Posted by Terry Barr on Apr 10, 2019
The day started like any other day.  There was no indication from the cosmos when I swung my feet out of bed that today would be any different to any other.
 
None of those little things like dropping your toast on the floor, marmite side down, or your toothpaste falling off your toothbrush all down the front of your shirt, literally nothing that makes you think to yourself ‘I should’ve stayed in bed today’.  I got up, dressed, had a quick wash, breakfast and head out the door with my lunch in hand (made by my better half) arriving at the workshop by the standard 8am.
 
Our Monday to Friday routine at the workshop is to arrive at 8am, have a quick 5-min, team brief, grab our job sheets for the day and hit the road for our first job.  Today I would be having the apprentice, Tim, with me.  This is great news, Tim and I get on well and I enjoy passing on my considerable plumbing knowledge to Tim, the wee eager beaver that he is.
                                     This is not Tim!
Our first job was pretty easy, just fixing a tap.  Good stuff for Tim to do and build up his knowledge and confidence.  The second job was to unblock a waste.  Again a good basic plumbing job for Tim to do.  Third job is to repair a leaking pipe under the house.  So far so good.  All the jobs have been just as you would expect, no hidden surprises, no little challenges.  Tim and I are on fire! 
 
By 1pm we’ve finished all our allocated jobs for the day.  As per our normal business rules we call the boss to see if anything new has come in and, if not, we call around the other team members to see if they need a hand.  Nothing new from the boss so we give Terry (the other Terry) a call and he’s all good. We give Jack a call and he’s had a few tricky jobs and is a bit behind.  Jack is more than happy to get some assistance, so we drive around to where Jack is working and pick up a couple of jobs from him.
 
Jack is doing some tap work in a house down a really long, curved driveway.  Typically the water to house has been turned off so he can work freely and, as is normally the case, the water toby is at the bottom of the driveway by the footpath.  So we drive up on the street, I park on the side of the road and let Tim out of the van and he bounds up the 30 metre driveway like the jack rabbit he is to get the job sheets from Jack.  I’m sitting in the van, listening to music, thinking about what’s for dinner, when it dawns on me ‘If I back up the driveway to meet Tim at the top by the house we can save a bit time (and Tim’s lungs, the lads had a few too many mince pies), and get back on the road quicker to get these jobs done.  I congratulate myself on my good thinking and productive use of time and put the van into reverse. 
 
My van, like most modern vehicles nowadays, comes with a reversing camera and sensors.  Both are pretty handy tools and it’s surprising how often we rely on them now.  But because I’m on old school plumber, I still use my side mirrors also.  I put the van into reverse and swing into the driveway and start reversing up.  The sensors go off but that’s nothing unusual, they are sensitive and I think to myself it’s probably pinging off the fence so I carry on going.  Quick glance in the reversing camera, nothing untoward, sensors still going off though but again I think to myself the sensors are probably picking up the fence or that bunch of agapanthus’s, so I continue to reverse up the driveway.
You know how sometimes you get a strange feeling that something just isn’t right but you can’t put your finger on it?  Well, unknown to me, Jack and Tim had chatted at the house and Jack had asked Tim to turn the water back on while he stayed inside to check for leaking etc.  So, Tim, the buck rabbit, had bounded down the driveway and was laying on his tummy flat on the ground so he could reach the toby to turn on the water.
Everything happens at once, it takes a fraction of the time it’s taken you to read this, for the next series of events to unfold.  I hear someone screaming my name, the van’s sensors are still going off and a quick glance in my side mirror reveals a pair of legs on the ground.  Under my van!  Now I may be an ‘older’ plumber but my reflexes are still pretty quick, but I reckon I put Superman to shame with the speed at which I slammed on the brakes and bolted out of the van. 
Surprisingly Tim is upright. And doing some stretches.  Cars are stopping and car doors are slamming as passer-bys' stop to offer assistance.  Someone yells out ‘do you need an ambulance?’  I look at Tim and Tim shouts back ‘No, I’m fine thanks’ and turning to me says quite cheerfully ‘you know, my back is feeling fantastic now.  I was booked for the chiropractor later this afternoon but I think I’ll cancel it.’  Tim does a few more stretches and confirms his back is markedly better.
 
On the other hand, I'm not feeling nearly as cheerful as Tim and sit down on the ground to gather myself as the shock hits.  Jack has come out from the house and we decide that it’s best if Tim goes home to rest (and maybe keep his chiropractor appointment until the adrenalin has worn off a bit).  Tim’s mum is called and, as she’s local, she’s there pretty quickly. Tim, still very cheerful, gets into the car and is taken home, where I find out later he spent the rest of the afternoon playing video games.  I slowly start to get myself ready for the rest of the afternoon, and these extra jobs we’ve just taken off Jack, which I’m now completing on my own. 
 
I’m shaken and stirred, not like a James Bond martini at all, and replay the event back in my head throughout the afternoon.  Life go on but the image that stays in my head is seeing Tim, getting into his mum’s car, with a black smudged wheel mark on his t-shirt from the back wheel of the van.
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