In our latest column offering thinly disguised and mainly unwanted careers advice. Meave Haughey headed deep down into the garden of england to meet Yard Operative (to the stars), Randy Dodds...
OUTSIDELEFT: How did you get into this line of business?
Yard Operative: I was jobless and skint in in February this year and needed a job quickly, and a local company that manufactures and distributes plastic guttering, boarding and pipes took me on to work in their yard and warehouse.
OL: How long is your typical working day?
Yard Operative: 8 hours
OL: Do you have a favorite aspect of your work?
Yard Operative: Yes. I always liked the idea of walking ahead of a forklift truck, and throwing long, heavy pieces of plastic guttering into a metal cage carried by the truck. And now I get to do it every day. So I’d have to say, the throwing of the plastic guttering into cages is my favourite aspect.
OL: Does your job involve any international travel?
Yard Operative: Very little.
OL: What's the best/go to piece of equipment you enjoy using?
Yard Operative: Good question. It’s a tough one, as I use several pieces of equipment, and they’re all shit. I’d have to say the barcode scanner, as it’s probably the least shit. It works when it isn’t raining.
OL: Anything you regret selling that you haven’t been able to replace?
Yard Operative: Yes. My cat, for petrol money. I miss Captain Scrunchie
OL: Who are your favorite type of clients?
Yard Operative: I suppose my clients would be people using the gutters and pipes in their homes! I’ll say my favourites are the ones who use the products happily. Knowing that every time they use the loo, they can have total confidence in the integrity of the piping.
OL: Can you anonymously relate any horror stories without going out of business or upsetting your paranoid client list?
Yard Operative: Oh god yes, there was the time Trev was caught on CCTV having a wank behind the compactor. Not nice. Disappointing.
OL: What are you best known for professionally?
Yard Operative: I’m almost tempted to say something else, but I’m going to have to say throwing plastic guttering.
OL: Working from home it's such a trend. If you had to set up in my house, could you do it? What would the neighbours think?
Yard Operative: Are you joking?! There’s no way you’d fit a bale of 5.5 metre square down pipe into the average garden, or a stillage of vented architrave. I suppose you could use much smaller pieces of guttering, put in, I don’t know, a shopping trolley. I haven’t really thought about it before.
OL: Why would you say, "Everybody needs their own Yard Operative", like they do on the best Home Shopping Channel shows?
Yard Operative: I wouldn’t say that.
OL: *Knowing us and the OUTSIDELEFT office as you do. Can you even give me any idea of the annual/monthly/daily/hourly cost of having our own on site Yard Operative? Could we really get some yard operations going on over here?
Yard Operative: That’s a hard one. I don’t think I could justify charging an hourly rate. I’d just sit there in the office, feeling awkward. You’d hardly know I was there. I could make tea I suppose, or take the rubbish out.
Randy will be back out there on Monday, no matter what the weather or tempertature, getting ready to supply pipe to the masses.
Meave Haughey is a short story writer based in Birmingham. Recent stories have been published in Comma Press’s The New Abject, and Forecast: New Writing from Birmingham, Doestoevsky Wannabe’s Love Bites: Fiction Inspired by Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks and in Birmingham, from the Doestoevsky Wannabe Cities series. Meave's story The Reservoir featured in The Best of British Short Stories 2021 compiled by Salt Press.
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