It snowed all night and this morning it was so deep I couldn’t even open the gym door. There was a drift about a foot deep against the glass. On the news they were saying more than six inches of snow had fallen overnight and snow plows had been out. I didn’t even know we had snow plows in Hampshire, it’s not as if we get snow like this very often. There was a text on my phone from Rae, sent at three in the morning to say she’d just got in safely which was a relief.
There were no busses of course and hardly a car on the road as I trudged to work, well not a moving one anyway. The roadsides were littered with abandoned vehicles, some with so much snow on them they were no more than white hills or peculiar snowmen. Because the snow was still soft and crunchy underfoot at least it wasn’t too slippery and I managed to stay on my feet the whole way but it was a slog and I couldn’t help wondering what it was going to be like at eight o’clock tonight if the temperature dropped and it froze over.
By the time I got to the office my fingers and toes were frozen solid, my cheeks were burning and I was boiling from the effort of walking through the deep snow. I was also half an hour late. The only other person on my team who’d actually made it in was Grant. I logged on and I was on my second call when I heard an announcement over the tannoy. My customer was having a bit of a loud rant about a debt collection letter so I couldn’t hear what the announcement was about.
“Do you catch a bus?” Grant said when I got off the call.
“Normally,” I said, “but I walked this morning because there weren’t any busses.”
“You can go home then. They’ve just said anyone who uses public transport can leave now because all busses have been cancelled for the rest of the day.”
“Brilliant! What about you though, can’t you go too?”
“I only live across the road so I’ve got to stay,” he said with a shrug.
“Bummer! Can’t you pretend you catch the bus?”
“I wish! Karen knows exactly where I live though so I’d never get away with it. I guess it’s the price you pay for being able to get out of bed five minutes before you start work.”
I felt a bit bad about leaving him there.
Outside Primo was talking to a scruffy looking man with a straggly beard and wayward hair. At first I thought he was one of the tramps who hang around outside rifling through the bins for fag butts and left over sandwiches, his tatty jeans and scruffy coat were certainly tramp like. As I got closer I heard him say, “I wouldn’t even bother going in Kirst, they’re sending everyone home because there’s been another snow warning and public transport’s been cancelled.”
“Coolio!” Primo punched the air. “Wish I’d known before I left home though. Took me two hours to get here,” then she spotted me. “Hiya FG, where’s Rae, I thought she was staying at yours last night?”
“So did I but she changed her mind and drove home. When I spoke to her at midnight she was still on Bursledon Road up by the motorway.”
“There were cars sliding backwards down Bursledon hill last night,” the trampy man said. “I live in the flats at the top of the hill and we were watching out of the window.”
“Bloody hell, I hope she got home ok,” Primo said.
“She sent me a text at three o clock to say she’d just got in. She wasn’t planning on coming in today,” I told her.
“Bloody hell, nine hours to get home from work, that must be some kind of record,” Primo shook her head. “Anyway, I think I’d better be off before anyone sees me and tries to get me to stay. Laters FG, laters Aiden.”
“Looks like I’ve got a long walk ahead of me,” Aiden said to me after she’d gone. “Which way you going?”
“The same way as you but not quite as far,” and we set off trudging through the snow together.
It took about an hour and a half to get back to my house, about the same as the journey in. Even though the snow was beginning to fall again with Aiden chatting to me all the way it didn’t seem so bad. He may have looked like a tramp but he was actually quite funny. He’s been working at the Mad House for about ten years, although he left once then came back. He was full of funny stories about customers and staff gossip.
“What d’you think of your new boss, Ali Rana, then?” He asked me. I shrugged, not sure where his allegiances were so not wanting to say too much. “I’d watch him if I was you, he’s a bit of a player. He’s always in the casino giving it large, being the big I am. Thinks he’s a bit of a lady’s man. Mates with Gopesh. You know about Gopesh I take it?”
“Not really,” I admitted.
“He’s in the shit right now, been accused of sexual harassment.”
“Yep. Didn’t want to take no for an answer from one of the girls on his team. He’s been suspended. They never should have made him a manager in the first place if you ask me. He was sucking up to the training team to cherry pick all the pretty young girls. No blokes on his team at all. Ali Rana thought he was going to take over Gopesh’s team. He’s pretty pissed off he got you lot, no offence,” he looked at me a bit sheepishly, realising what he’d just said.
“None taken,” I laughed. “He must have felt like he got the short straw with us lot, a bunch of blokes, chubby women and an old bird like me. Don’t tell Panda, Rae or Primo I said that though!”
Aiden roared with laughter, “you’re OK. I thought you were a bit posh until I spoke to you.”
It was about twelve thirty when I got in. I turned the fire on, made myself a cocoa with a dash of rum to warm me up and settled back to enjoy the warmth. Is there any better feeling than sitting in front of a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa with the snow falling outside? The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…