Diary of a Madman

Why Fly Delta?

For a couple of reasons. First, because of a recommendation by a colleague of Julie. Best way to go apparently. Second, because they were not too far off about €90 cheaper than the Aer Lingus fare. KLM, who I’d always flown trans-Atlantic with in the past didn’t even get a look in. Their fare was crazy out of this world high. We booked online, confirmed flights, selected seats and paid on the spot. All good so far.

About five or so days before our outbound journey from Dublin to New York, I logged onto the Delta website to make sure everything was in order. Little did I know the fun was about to start from right here. Everything was great outbound, but our seats had changed for the return journey. Not something so simple as sitting in a different pair of seats than the one’s we’d selected during booking, our new seats were now not even on the same row. A bit strange I thought, seeing as our seats were both on the same booking. Maybe they were accounting for those couples that go to New York, have a massive argument before returning and then want to sit as far away from each other as possible. Yes, that had to be it. A quick Google showed that this is apparently a fairly common occurrence and also that a quick word with someone in the Delta call center could sort it out straight away.

The next morning (about two days before departure), I phoned the Irish number for the Delta call center. After a few minutes on hold I was put through to a friendly representative who was of absolutely no use whatsoever. “The flight has been re-scheduled, I can’t change anything from here” was the response I got. “Speak to the check-in staff on your arrival at the airport, they’ll be able to fix it.” I thought nothing more of it as in the past, it’s been a simple ‘here’s what happened, can you fix it?’ conversation at check-in and seats get changed. No big deal.

So the big day came and we were off to Dublin airport at an hour of the morning that Julie rarely sees. I rarely see it either for that matter, only when I’m flying out to work in some far flung corner of wherever. Got to the airport, joined the check-in queue and filled out those wonderfully repetitive US immigration visa waiver forms. While our boarding passes and baggage tags were printing, I mentioned to the check-in woman about the mix up with the seats. “Oh” she started. “Oh that sometimes happens, but as the flight has been rescheduled, I can’t change anything from here. You’ll need to talk to a member of Delta staff when you land in JFK”. Right, this is all going around the houses a bit but for now I’m willing to play along. Queue lots of waiting around, filling in more forms, being looked up and down by customs and immigration people and finally more waiting around until we boarded the flight.

Having been informed about the marvelous seat back screens and entertainment systems before booking with Delta, I was interested to see what exactly all the fuss was about. Two Delta flights later and I’m still interested to see. Nothing says trans-Atlantic flying comfort like staring at the back of a fellow passengers bald spot for six hours. The only thing in the seat back in front of me was foam and even that was coming out at the raggedy edges. So instead of being able to choose my own TV, movies and whatever else is presumably on show somewhere in airline Nirvana, I got the usual ‘squint at a twelve inch screen fifteen feet away from me’. Niceties, bells and whistles aside, the plane did eventually touch down in New York’s JFK.

On stepping out of the plane into the terminal building the gravity of the situation that we found ourselves in became shockingly apparent. Not only had we flown back in time by five hours, we’d also gone back thirty five years! Dear God, a time-plane-thingy! Delta’s presence at JFK airport is, in a word, dated. I had to check the date on a newspaper to make sure we weren’t actually in the 1970′s and that my uber stylish t-shirt and boot-cut jeans combo wouldn’t be ridiculed by the flowery shirt and flare wearing population of New York City. No, it was still 2009. At least it was 2009 everywhere except Delta arrivals.

We were met by the driver of our overpriced car service at the arrivals hall and before leaving, I informed him that we needed to speak to a member of Delta staff to sort out our tickets for the way back in a weeks time. A hike from the arrivals to some kind of mini departures hall ensued and when we arrived there after getting lost twice in the maze of gray concrete and garish blue and red logos, we once again joined a queue. After the Delta staff member had finished filing her nails and talking on the phone, we were called forward. A puzzled look crossed her face and for a fleeting moment, I thought she was going to respond “Delta? Who are Delta?”. Instead, she said “Oh I can’t do anything now as the flight has been rescheduled, you’ll need to talk to the staff when you’re checking in next week”. I’d almost have preferred if she had reached over and slapped me across the face.

Out into the wilds of New York and the week long holiday began in earnest. Forgotten was the queuing, the blank-faced check-in women, the seat numbers and the depressing as a month long funeral airport terminal.

Alas, as it often does when you’re on holidays, a week passed all too quickly…

Back to the Delta departures hall in JFK. Several deep breaths walking from the taxi to the front door and we were ready to face whatever could be thrown at us. Hang on, there aren’t any check-in desks. There aren’t any check-in staff. There isn’t anyone to change our seat numbers. There were however two overworked looking people floating around the maze of automated check-in kiosks helping bewildered technophobe would-be passengers. Catching the attention of one of them, I inquired about the seat change. “Oh, you can change your seat when you check in using the kiosk”. I can? Wait… I can? Could this be true? There’s a light at the end of the tunnel? I turned and ran back to where Julie was standing with the cases, maintaining the aura of impeccable patience that surrounds her whenever we’ve spent ‘that much’ time together. Tap, tap, tap tap tap. Scan passport. Tap. Scan other passport. Then, in the corner of the screen a button appeared. “Change Seats”. We both almost couldn’t believe it. Pressed the button and a message popped up; “I’m sorry, you cannot change your seats because the flight has been re-scheduled.”

No, I jest. Had that popped up I surely would have eaten my passport to contain the venomous bile. Instead, the helpful screen showed that no seats were available. Nothing whatsoever. Not a sausage. Instead, seats were being assigned at the gate. So, we printed the boarding cards and went to drop our bags in. My bag, admittedly stuffed to the gills with all the t-shirts, jeans and other stuff I’d bought was a bit overweight. I didn’t check what the excess baggage rates were (first time in my long history of flying that I’ve ever gone over the limit) so I wasn’t sure what to expect. $20? $50? Surely something like that. The extra seven pounds of tourist trinkets, I [heart] NY mugs, clothes and whatever else I bought cost me an extra $150 at the gate. I can only assume my jaw hit the floor as I got an unpleasant taste of my own feet on my bottom lip. Instead of going to the hassle of re-distributing weight to Julie’s bag (which was just within the weight) and run the risk of undoing the delicate act of stuffing the bag I’d performed earlier on, I bit the bullet and coughed up the credit card. I will most definitely be comparing other airlines excess rates when I get home. Still possibly a good deal for the amount of stuff I bought though. Incidentally, I have found since writing this that the Aer Lingus excess baggage fee is €40 or $50. Aer Lingus apply the same weight limits as Delta.

Arrived at the gate, which was as fun and feature packed as the arrivals hall. Seriously Delta, invest some money in re-decorating the place. We were both first time visitors to the terminal at JFK airport and were completely in awe of what a poor welcome it is to one of the most amazing cities in the world. Maybe JFK is a pretty old airport and all, but that’s no excuse for how the place looks. If the Delta terminal was a cardboard box, I wouldn’t use it to bury a dead, rabid dog. If only out of the fear the ghost of the dog would come back and haunt me.

Nobody at the gate to even ask about the seats so instead, we went for a wander to the shop. A while later on returning to the gate, there was a member of Delta staff sitting at a small desk in front of the gate. I politely asked her about the seat mix up and she barked back “wait until your name is called, then come get your ticket”. I don’t think I even got the full sentence out. Ah air travel, the delight of the masses. Sat down for a while and only by chance Julie spotted the screen directly above our heads showing seats available and assigned. As soon as our names appeared on the screen I sprinted back to the desk where I was handed two boarding passes from a pre-printed stack. A pre-printed stack that had been sitting there when I first inquired about the seat change. Not to worry, I had boarding passes in hand that put us sitting next to each other for the almost six hour flight. At this stage I wasn’t even bothered that they’d stuck us right at the back of the plane, I just didn’t want either of us to have to spent the entirety of the flight gazing at some octogenarians family photos while being talked to death or being granted half a seat while the morbidly obese traveler next to us takes up a seat and a half. Both are woeful cliches but both happen with amazing frequency. Thankfully I’m normally only on 45 minute flights when either happen. This is why I always, without fail, bring headphones onto a flight. Even if I got nothing to plug them into. Simply tuck the end of the plug into your trouser pocket, take on a look that you’re listening to music or an audio book and repeat for however long the flight takes.

Right, in seat, strapped in and shoes off. Looking forward to some food, a bit of relaxation and being in a familiar bed in seven or eight hours time. Food service started. It slowed. Slowed again. By the time it got to row forty, it had almost slowed to a crawl. Chicken. I unclipped my tray and it landed in my lap. Literally. It didn’t bounce and stop an inch or two above my legs, the plastic tray met me in an uncomfortable manner. Obviously broken, I pointed it out to the flight attendant. “I can’t do anything about that right now” was the gruff and to the point response. Translation – I have no intention whatsoever of doing anything at all to remedy the problem. Here’s your God awful chicken, eat it on a slope and like it. In reality, I was just looking for an upgrade to business class. If I thought breaking a tray would get me that, I’d have ripped it from it’s hinges and flung it out into the aisle. Sadly, someone got there before me and this one was pre-broken. I ate my questionable chicken while balancing the tray with my knees. In fact, I ate and drank everything they handed out while balancing the broken tray with my knees. I’m now the world champion in broken airline tray balancing as confirmed by the association of broken airline tray balancers. I managed to steady the tray sufficiently to compose this rant of epic proportions anyway.

Toward the end of the flight (well, I say end but there was still at least 90 minutes to go until we landed) Julie went in search of the facilities. As anyone who has traveled in a plane knows, you get probably four toilets for however many hundred people are on board. Over the space of six hours, those four toilets see quite a bit of use. However, I have on several occasions seen staff checking on the whole cleanliness situation mid way through the flight and taking the necessary steps to rectify any problems. On finding a free toilet, Julie was advised to go back and put her shoes on as ‘guys have been using the toilet and it’s quite messy in there’. Right, so clean it then. I’m hardly suggesting that the staff are in any way responsible for how people use the toilet, but surely they should be on hand to ensure that the toilets remain clean and somewhat acceptable to use? During the flight, a child was quite ill in one of the toilets and the only evidence of Delta interaction with the scene was one of the male flight attendants looking on with a rather disgusted face while ushering the child’s father to one side so he could pass him in the aisle.

Great holiday, adequate flight, woefully bad service and ridiculously overpriced excess baggage charges. If flying with Delta has taught me one thing, it’s don’t fly with Delta. I hope when I write to them to point all this out that they don’t offer me a voucher off my next flight. Unless of course that voucher also works with Aer Lingus, KLM, Virgin or any one of the host of other airlines I’d rather give more money to for the same flight. The only good reason I can think of flying Delta is if you’re traveling for business and you want to arrive at your destination completely pissed off and ready to kick some ass in whatever business meeting you’re heading into.

When you realise it’s time to go…

Boss: “X piece of software needs to be updated on terminal server”
Me: “I’ve never troubleshooted or even used that software before”
Boss: “Ring programmer there and he’ll tell you what the story is”
Me: Hangs up & sighs loudly knowing full well it’s the start of yet another one of those conversations.
Me: “Eh, boss there said some software needs updating on terminal server. He doesn’t know if the version is up to date or not. User in other office cant login.”
Programmer: “Ah that was updated already. User in other office knows how to login but got error message and didn’t tell me what it was”
Me: “Ok, so I’ll talk to boss and see what the story is”
Me: Hangs up again, redials boss and places head in hands
Me: “Programmer said software is already up to date, user knows how to login but didn’t let programmer know what error message was”
Boss: “Ah, login to user account and try to login”
Me: Logs into server fine but encounters completely nondescript error message
Me: “Error message appeared” (reads error message over the phone)
Boss: “Hmm, don’t know what that is. Talk to programmer”
Me: Hangs up, looks for suicide pill in top drawer. It’s gone.
Me: “Error message appearing here” (reads error message)
Programmer: “Ah, setting is wrong. Change it and try again”
Me: Changes setting, tries, fails. Changes again, works now.
Me: “That seemed to work”
Programmer: “Grand, see ya!”
Me: Hangs up and redials boss
Me: “Changing a setting seemed to do it”
Boss: “Good, ring user in other office and explain how to login correctly”
Me: “But I’ve never used or troubleshooted this. When user asks a question I won’t know the answer”
Boss: “That’s ok. When user asks you a question, come back to me or programmer”
Me: “… ehh.. So I’m just relaying messages between you, programmer and user?”
Boss: “You’ll be fine”
Me: Starts to wonder what life is all about while dialing users extension..

Boss and Programmer are no more than 20 feet apart, separated only by a partition wall. Where’d I put that CV?

God help me…

Selling a part of the family

Royal Star on the way to Cobh

It all started some years ago when I converted a Drag Star into cash, then after a long drive to Templemore and a short conversation with the unreasonably grumpy owner, I turned cash back into bike. It was the bike I’d been after for some time as what I wanted to do more than anything was load it up and head to warmer climes.

After what seemed like an eternity, that eventually came around when myself and herself hopped on the bike and took it to warmest of warm France via drizzly England. 2500 or so miles later and we were back where we started; Rosslare. So after that, it sat covered in the garage waiting for it’s next excursion. At that stage I’d found a job that offered a company vehicle. Bad news for the bike really. I didn’t fully realise it back then but it wasn’t long before the tax expired, the insurance expired and getting it back on the road seemed less and less likely.

So it sat in the garage under a canvas cover. I still had notions of getting back out on it for the summer but that dream went flat at the same time as the bikes battery. Wheeled out every so often for a wash and polish and once or twice when someone came to look at it. I mistakenly thought it’d be an easy bike to sell because it was rare. In fact, it’s probably the only one in Ireland. (That is, the only limited edition model). In reality though, all this made it harder to sell. I went through some unpleasant telephone conversations with dealers. Self styled motorbike guru’s who each assured me they knew the market backwards. Some offered to ‘do me a favour’ by taking the bike off my hands for significantly less than I asked for. No thanks.

It was listed on various advertising websites for ages and I’d get the odd phone call or email regarding it. Then, a very decisive bike owner from Wexford visited me yesterday and converted bike back into cash. I’ll miss it and I very much doubt I’ll be bikeless for very long but for now at least, it’s as if I’m missing part of the family. The only consolation is that with the cash raised from it’s sale, I can now be debt free for the first time in about 7 years. Well, apart from the mortgage… that doesn’t really count though as we’ll be paying that off for the next thirty years!

Back to Normality?

Nuts. Just plain nuts! Eoin, one of my best friends and co-founder of Munster Pubs is getting married tomorrow and so the last few weeks have just been plain nuts. No salt, not roasted, just plain bloody nuts! I’d been doing odds and ends in the run up, including helping him name the tables after Beatles song titles, which took up alot more time than I thought it would. Mostly down to my own procrastination as per bloody usual. But then, Wednesday came around and I finished my task. I was actually looking forward to sitting down and clearing some of the several month processing backlog I’ve found myself in.

Then, on Thursday morning, Eoin decided it’d be great if I made a speech. Hmm, not too sure about that one. I was all set to tell him it was a bad idea when we met in the pub on Thursday night, but as these things often go, after a few pints of the devilish black stuff (Murphy’s of course) were consumed, I decided that not only was it a good idea to make a speech, it was the best idea. Right up there with hotpants and sliced bread. It seems I was railroaded into it by myself. Dang.

The following morning, wondering what I’d say and how I’d say it gave way to wondering how much I could say before getting asked to sit down. I was up on 2 A4 pages before I even realised I started. To put it as I can only understand it, I blogged with pen & paper. Having never written or delivered a speech in my entire life, I can only hope it comes off as well in delivery tomorrow evening as it sounds in my head. Then again, I think everything is a bit rose tinted in there lately.

So once this weekend is over, I can possibly get back to processing. Hooray. The only thing that I’m left to worry about after this is that once the first of my school friends is married, where does it all end?

The Kindness of Strangers?

A rant, more or less summed up by the above slightly doctored photograph. The first in a series of long overdue rants, each spiraling off on it’s own wonderful tangent, designed to clear the mental air so I can get back to posting photos and waffling on about them endlessly. More or less…

So anyway there we were, driving down from Sligo on a truly pissy Sunday evening. It rained, then the rain turned to sleet and finally snow. The snow froze and turned to sleet, I was mistaking them for top flite at one stage. At any moment, I imagined Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington might come raining down on my windscreen. The drive from Sligo is, in places, unnervingly hairy. Especially from Sligo to Galway. Then you hit the traffic in Limerick and sit around twiddling your thumbs/tickling your balls/finding as yet new and unexplored crevasses in which to mine for fluff. That kind of thing. You get through Charleville and it’s the home straight. You’ll be home in 40 minutess, maybe a little less if you don’t get stuck behind some bloody rental car or fucking idiot with a 2 meter eyesight range.

Then, a wonderful sound. That unmistakable sound of a wheel rim ploughing a trough into the tarmac. You pull over and yes indeed, some little bastard of a screw has been lying in wait for your lovely rubbery tire. The little prick; Quite literally. What makes it even worse than that? Why you’re driving a French car with a poxy, useful as a cotton condom French toolkit. As a people, the French must not break down that much. I’m sure if they had any experience with their toolkits (i.e. by getting stuck at the side of the road for an hour and a half pissing around) they might re-evaluate their whole emergency provisions. But no.

Having never actually seen the spare wheel or indeed the toolkit of my car before Sunday (I’ve only had it since April 2006), I was hugely, nay overwhelmingly moved to see Citroen’s idea of a set of tools with which one repairs one’s motor vehicle. Moved first to frustration, then to anger, then very close to dementia. In the space of how ever bloody long I was standing by the side of the road wrestling with a tire iron the length of a less than generous toothpick (and coincidentally made out of weaker material than one), no fewer than 100 cars passed me in a variety of weather conditions. Having changed numerous flat tires before, I imagined I’d have it done in fifteen minutes. Eh no. I lost count of the amount of well equipped 4×4′s with their well equipped toolkits that passed me by within the first 10 minutes. At one stage, a troop of 3 seemingly ‘professional off-roaders’ passed me with the entire kitchen sink strapped to their bonnets. Livid. I swore ten years worth of my filth quota out within the first 20 minutes. Twenty Major would have blushed.

As the hailstones pelted down I tried in vain to shelter myself while still wrestling with the wheel that would just not come off. I kicked it, pushed it, tried to lever it off with my ultra-shitty toolkit and even resorted to a few Jackie Chan style flying kicks in it’s general direction. Fucking wheel! I didn’t fully lose hope until It came to pass that the tool I was using in a vain attempt to remove the stuck wheel was in fact made out of softer metal than the wheel itself. Bra-fucking-vo Citroen. I’d have killed for some leverage. If I had had a paper clip, a small amount of gaffer tape and some nearby branches I could have MacGyver’d a better set of bloody tools.

At one stage near the bitter end, I stood up and soaked from head to toe with the titleist bouncing off my eyeballs, a little piece of shit Honda Civic (oh I’ve got your license plate number by the way) flew past, horn blaring and a bunch of baseball bat perching mother fuckers inside laughing their tiny minds out. Lucky for them I still had a modicum of self control and I resisted the urge to throw the solid steel tow-hook I was carrying through their back window as the car slowed for the prolonged enjoyment of the genetic mistakes inside. You haven’t heard the last of that one, you Carlow fuckers.

Oh but that’s not all, several minutes before that a Gardaí squad car, full to the brim with ‘helpful civil servants’ slithered past at a pace so pedestrian it seemed to scream out “we could help you, but I really don’t want to bother”. One thing’s for damn certain, the Irish police force (or at least the wankers that passed me) will never be able to use the ol “To protect and to serve” tagline. Useless shower of bastards.

All this time I’d been praying for the tiniest drop of WD40 so it was like all my birthdays and Christmases come at once when a helpful local rounded up from a nearby house handed me a huge can of it. Five seconds later the wheel was off. 2 minutes after that, I was tightening the wheel nuts with the spare on and was on the way. Certainly made me feel like my last hour and a bit was well spent. At least I went someway toward destroying the shittiest car toolkit in the history of automation.

So to everyone that passed a white Citroen C4 on the Cork road just outside Newtwopothouse (yes that is actually a place name) on Sunday the 18th March, may you all die screaming in pain. To the Gardaí, may your overtime be slashed repeatedly and may you eventually be replaced by a far lower cost group of reserves. To the 4×4 drivers, It would have taken 5 fucking minutes out of your hugely hectic social schedule to stop and help me. To the Carlow branch of Burberry Ireland, I hope your kids turn out to be as pig ignorant, woefully stupid and generally as belligerent as you no doubt were to your parents. I hope they never move out of the tenement you save all your lives to buy and most of all, I hope when you get put in a retirement home it ends up appearing on primetime. And not for any good reasons either. Finally, to the service monkeys that removed my ‘free 24 hour Citroen roadside assistance’ sticker from inside my windscreen to replace it with a ‘your next service is due on…’ sticker, I’ll see you on April 2nd and I’ll be bringing the lube made from chili peppers..

It’s not all negative though. It will make me do a number of things. 1, go to a hardware shop and buy a good tire iron. 2, get a can of WD40 which stays in the car permanently. 3, give aid to any motorists I see by the side of the road that look like they’re in need of it. That’s it. I’m finished. Where’s the whiskey?

Ray Lamontagne in the Opera House

Recently (as recent as last week) went to see Ray Lamontagne play to a full house in Cork’s Opera House. It definitely does, even if it’s a bit late and half-assed, deserve a mention. I’d been of the opinion for some time that he’d put on a great live show if the albums are anything to go by. Couldn’t have been more right. Our seats were front and slightly right of center, perfect as far as I was concerned but lacking in legroom according to my significant other.

Ray was preceded by a performance by Leona Naess who was just the ticket and complimented nicely the performance to come. I and I’m sure many people in the audience were surprised how soft spoken Ray actually is, given the unbelievable sound he’s capable of making. After the first couple of songs, I started to wonder if he’d interact with the audience at all, or so a recent article on him would have had me believe. He thanked the gathered masses profusely for generous applause, made some jokes and overall remained hugely polite. All that despite a few people in the audience that I think would have liked to reorganise his chosen play list.

All to be expected with a boisterous Corkonian crowd however and that of course is half the charm of going to a gig in Cork. It was an amazing gig with amazing talent from both the main man himself and his band. I can only imagine he went onto Limerick the following evening and played to yet another capacity crowd. Before anyone asks, yes; I’ve been kicking myself quite hard since the gig last Thursday that I didn’t bring my camera. Front row and all. Could have gotten some amazing shots (maybe) but I decided not to chance it as I didn’t really feel like getting booted out of the Opera House. That didn’t seem to bother the rest of the crowd, who’s flashes lit up the room throughout the whole gig. Ahh, it’ll do me no harm to have one night without the ol’ camera!

Dispense advice here

Right, time for some waffle. On the 28th October, on the way back from Donadea park in Kildare I was caught speeding after turning from the M50, off the Red Cow roundabout onto the R110. 78km/h in a 60km/h zone. However, on the official notice, it says “N7 NAAS ROAD”. I disputed it at first because well, I wasn’t driving on the N7! I was on the M7, but turned off at Naas to travel north toward the park.

After checking on Irish Speed Traps, it appears that yes, there is a regular checkpoint on the N7/R110. I’ve checked a few maps, including Fingal County Councils (below) own website and all the official ones I’ve checked have the road marked as R110.

Red Cow

So I really wasn’t on the N7 at all! What to do? I’ve got a few days to mull over if I pay the fine and take the points or go to court and possibly get double points if it goes against me. Or possibly get the speeding fine thrown out. I wouldn’t be this mercenary about the whole thing if I didn’t just get my license cleared after over 3 years of being a very careful driver. Well, I’m still a careful driver… I didn’t go mad and start driving like an asshole on the first day of no points!

So, advise please… What do you reckon?

A Heartwarming Conclusion

If you’ve been around here for a while, you may have already read of my eternal woes with passing my driving test. This should mark the last installment in this now 6 part odyssey. If you’re really interested in reading the whole lot, here we go.

Part 1: Driving Test Woes
Part 2: Driving Test Woes 2
Part 3: Driving Test Woes 3
Part 4: On re-applying & licking the cats ass of defeat
Part 5: Fecking driving test!

Enough of that malarky, so what makes this such a heartwarming conclusion?

While in my lovely, local (in its last days) pub last night, I met and struck up a conversation with my past driving instructor, whom had already been extensively sampling the local merchandise. How and ever, the news that came forth was so inexplicably tremendous that I almost soiled myself (four times). As he fought through the tear inducing laughter, he recounted the story, leaving no juicy detail behind.

Cast your mind back to my own driving test and indeed to my own driving tester. The large, ignorant and generally hugely abrasive gentleman that failed me once and tested me twice. Yes, if you’ll remember after being screwed over once and requesting a different tester I got the same guy again. Equally as abrasive, hell no, he was just an asshole plain and simple. I passed though and all was good. Never again would I have to look at his sneery, scrunched up little ratbag face again. Others did though and my thoughts and best wishes are with them.

One of those others excelled himself. This is his story. After doing his test they returned to the test center. They sat, he gulped nervously and awaited his fate. Across the table, an oaf was deciding his fate. As it transpired, there was alot of fate being decided upon that fateful day. A piece of paper slid across the table. It came to a stop and a set of fat fingers released it and returned to a folded pose. The candidate picked up the paper, examined it and peered over the top of it to where the tester was poised to make a smart comment. If there’s one thing about this guy, he’s always got a smart comment ready. Be the result fail or pass, there’s always a comment there ready to deride and debase the candidate.

This time it was a fail. Yet another fail under the belt for this less than average employee. However, across the table sat an above average candidate. But of course, the tester didn’t know that… Yet. Smart comment delivered, the air becomes stagnant. Candidate puts paper down, gets up, reaches across table and knocks tester out cold. I shit you not. A swift knuckle sandwich to the kisser was delivered with great accuracy. One court case and 6 months of recovery later, the tester is back to work. Far be it from me to promote violence but this was perhaps the most deserved case of whoop ass in the world. Laugh? I nearly snorted a whole pint of Murphys…

Now, if that person wishes to comment here, I’ll gladly buy you a pint. I’ll gladly buy you ten pints. Later on in the pub (as it’s for sale and possibly closing forever), all of us recalled our favorite moments shared under the roof of Cogans in Carrigaline. I have to say, this was mine.

Comeuppance is a bitch. Thank you and goodnight.

Get the point, not the points!

Back in July 2003 (in the hells angel days), I performed some rather questionable feats of bravery/stupidity on my motorbike. One such feat involved riding around a public park at 11pm one weeknight but that’s not what we’re interested in for the purposes of this post. What we’re on about is the drag race I had with my imaginary friend on the road from Killarney to Macroom. Pulled for speeding; 2 points. Nards.

It came to pass that the points only appeared on my otherwise pristine driving record in October. The 6th of October 2003 to be precise. So we all know what this means. As of right now, this very moment in time I’m 100% points free. Back to 0. Full no points discount on insurance. I’m such a good driver, having managed to evade getting anymore of the dreaded markings over the last tempting 3 years of road rage. So tonight a small celebration to mark the event. Now, I wonder when I’ll get the congratulatory letter from the department of transport?

Time for a new Scamera

While out shopping these days one has to keep their wits about them. Never more so than online. In my recent search for a new camera body, I came across an almost too good to be true listing on buy & sell for a Canon 5D. Now the rough price online for a 5D is up around the €2,500 mark, lots higher than that in Ireland. So I was elated, if suspicious, to see that there was a 5D for sale in Sligo for the amazing sum of €1,400. Hmm, could it be too good to be true? I emailed for further info…

Hello. It was bought in London last september, warranty until september 2008. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.It works 100% perfectly and looks near perfect cosmetically. It is absolutely flawless. the plain reason i’m selling is that i don’t need it anymore.. it was my sons expensive hobby, he quit on it and now we don’t need it.

What will you get ; Original box, The Canon EOS 5D camera itself, Original Canon genuine battery pack, Canon standard battery charger, A/V Cable, USB connector cable, Canon Warranty Card,Original manual (English), Canon software CD’s, Canon neck strap

If you need any other info, write me back.
Anna

So it’s only a year old, still in warranty, works perfeclty and has taken little abuse? Wow… Now this has to be too good to be true. I was left wondering if this ‘Anna’ was insane or didn’t actually know the real value of the camera. To add to that, I also got the following enticing images;

5D Scam 2

5D Scam 1

Yup, that’s definately a Canon 5D! My interest piqued but remaining somewhat suspicious, I decided to probe for further info.

Anna,

Thanks very much for the email, I’m interested in coming to take a look at the camera but wont be available to do so until Monday 28th. Are you actually in Sligo town or the suburbs? I hope to be around the town until at least 4 or 5pm so anytime up to that would suit perfectly. If you want to tell me where you are I can come to you, or we can arrange to meet somewhere.

Also, given that you say it looks near perfect cosmeticaly, I have to ask if there are any marks or other damage on it? If so, could you forward photos of them. Thanks

Standard “I am interested in what you have to sell” response. A bit over enthusiastic perhaps, but understandable given the apparent amazing deal. Ah but hold on. My plans to convey myself to Yeats county fell short on receipt of the following;

Hello. No marks, no scratches, it was very well taken care of..
But, I’m affraid I can’t wait till 28th because i have a dozen men asking me about it and I will surely sell it. For the moment i am in London, trying to solve some probs.
If you know someone here, who might take a look at it, and is ready to close the deal on your behalf, maybe we can still close the deal. Otherwise, i think you should be looking for another camera.
All the best.
Anna

So you’re living in Sligo, you’ve got an expensive camera in an awkward shaped box and what’s the first thing you think to pack for a trip to London? Yeah… Now it’s starting to smell of the wacky tabacky. So I know people in London that would no doubt check out this camera for me and if need be, accept a cash transfer for the hand over. A couple of emails went back and forth, I informed ‘Anna’ that I would arrange to meet her upon her return to Sligo as I was eager to see and test the camera. But wait, then I got a reply that knocked me off my feet.

All right, this sounds good, but i realy can’t promise something 100% because i have someother people interested and if i will find someone till then, i will probably sell it.
If not, i will surely call/e-mail you as soon as i’ll be back.
Or, i can just ship it from here and you will have a couple of days to see if its what you want..
Regards,
Anna

Yeah, you’ve read it correctly. You’ve been emailing some guy for a few hours that got your email address off a free ad’s website and now you’re offering to send him a €2,500 camera to test it out for a couple of days. With no further doubt in my mind that this was a scam, I waved bye bye to my bargain 5D and bit down on the bait. I emailed back indicating in no uncertain terms that shipping the camera to me to ‘test out for a few days’ would be the most favorable option. So then the scammers favorite two words came up. Try and guess what they are…

Hello Ryan. I can ship it, and i will do it Monday, you’ll get it 2 days later, and check it/test it until Friday to see if it suits. But, without any disrespect, it is a valuable camera and i can’t afford to waste my time and money.. I will not ask for any advance or something like this, but i will still need a proof you have the money and this is not a joke..
So look what i suggest : you can send the money for the camera through Western Union, to one of your friend’s name and address here in London, i will call Western here and ask them to confirm the transfer, and if they will confirm it, i will ship the camera within 4 hours. Then, you will get it, see it and if you agree to buy it, you will resend the money on my name.. If not, you’ll just send it back, and that will be all.
What do you think about this method?

That’s right, Western Union. What a great name they’ve managed to get themselves from all the worldwide scammers in operation. It’s like the worldwide money transfer service of choice for the discerning scammer. What I was unsure about is, was she expecting me to say “eh, I don’t have any friends in London, can I send the money directly to you?”. Not too sure how she expected this one to work. If I send €1,400 to a friend in London, she shipped the empty box to me and went to collect the money, I’d have already instructed my friend to claw her eyes out. Anyone want to explain this one to me?

So that was that. I wasn’t prepared to waste any more time on this nonsense so the last email I sent back was something along the lines of

“Dear Scumbag,

I’d rather itch my nuts with a rusty cheese grater than send that much money to anyone. It’s perfectly obvious that you are attempting (albeit in a hugely incompetent and comical fashion) to scam me out of €1,400. Please crawl back under your putrid stone and die like a upside down turtle, baking slowly in the midday sun. Also, I’m passing your email address onto everyone I can think of in the hope they may spam you until the day your head is somehow removed from your shoulders, in some kind of comical monty python-esque fashion. I dearly hope I’m present to witness that event.

Good day, you waste of genetic material.”

So, ‘Anna’, who’s email address is Preabeat@aol.com, pray that I never learn your true identity. For if I do, I may hound you with bogus correspondence, fake deliveries and eventually; A horrid, 6 hour long kneecapping. That is all. Guess I’ll have to get a 30D as a second (first) body instead.