Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Gate(s) of Hell

We know that we are very fortunate, in inner-city Melbourne, to live in a completely detached house so that our 40cm high, 14 kilogram dog can run excited happy-laps around the entire boundary when the sound carries over from the Melbourne Zoo's evening concerts, when Hendrix the next-door cat is out having his constitutional or during 3am walk-pasts by clearly inebriated (and deaf) chattering teenagers.

We are also grateful that our nine year old daughter Sapphire can use her scooter on the back verandah pavers and down one side of the house if we plan ahead and wind the bathroom window closed and make sure the wheelie bins are securely wedged up against the back gate; but our new home has presented a bit of a challenge to accommodate anything wider than a Aeroflot economy airline seat.

We of course understood and accepted that in our decision to move to the bigger smoke of Melbourne, down-sizing was an essential part of the process. To counter the loss of a double garage, two-car driveway and a minimum of three metres space between any part of the house and a boundary fence we decided to gift ourselves a few special things to ease into our new, slightly-more-compact life - a new bike to ride to work for Love Chunks, a viola for Sapphire, a brand new York treadmill for me and a Stainless Steel Mega-massive BBQ bad-boy for the back of the house, aka 'The Entertainer's Paradise.'

However, what has become apparent is that we own the home-owner and delivery man's worst nightmare:
The Inner-City Skinny Gate.

Yes, this sometimes-grey, sometimes-eggplant, occasionally-brown but inexplicably labelled 'Namibia' painted gate has proved to be more effective at repelling large objects than a roided-up King Street bouncer.

Firstly, the treadmill. Buy online and get free delivery, they promised.
That sounds fantastic, LC and I thought, and promptly bought.

Delivery day loomed, in hindsight a balmy and hospitable 37C and a chap that looked like the skinny version of this guy......

......turned up; his bobbling Adam's apple clearly the largest part of his body, eclipsing even his head. The poor pubescent was given a trolley that was more used to carrying pallets of bricks or flat packed billiard tables and was therefore at least three times wider than our unfriendly entrance.

I stood there, speechless as he stood there, also speechless, clearly hoping that I'd politely offer to lift the 115kg box onto my shoulder and then javelin it over the roof of the house so that it flew like a monolithic leaden paper plane neatly into my back shed. I remained speechless.

After several more minutes of dumb silence, I eventually recognised that our two great minds and bodies were not going to shift the enormous box without some form of trolley that would actually fit through the gate.
"I'll push it off ~~CRASH!~~ Oh, that was easy - and then try to drag it through your gate," Pubes offered in a nervous falsetto.

Neither he nor I could get it to move more than a couple of feet on the hot bituman footpath before it hit the one inch rise from the path onto our property. Pubes' Adam's apple started to ripple up and down his neck in an agitated manner. "But I'm only supposed to lift 25 kilos," he whined.

My sympathy leapt to the fore. "Yeah well I can hardly take on the extra ninety on my own, can I? How is this free delivery if you're now suggesting we 'leave it outside' until Love Chunks and a magic trolley gets home in five hours time?"

He -and my eagerly-anticipated treadmill - were put back on the truck and sent to come back when Love Chunks was home and Pubes had found a decent loading trolley.

Secondly, our modular lounge. The corner connector was outside, covered in a tarp held down by Sapphire's scooter as we awaited the upholsterer's delivery guy to come and take away the three seater to be sawn and stitched down into a two-seater so that the entire lounge could return inside where it belonged.

The delivery 'guy' was eighty if he was a day, limped with a distinct slant to the east and when considering the 43C temperature and our skinny gate, things were looking a bit fraught. This time however Love Chunks was home and was ready for the role of the second shifter and loader (He did ask "How come we have to pay for pick up and delivery if I'm doing half of it?" but The Ancient One cleverly feigned deafness). Thankfully both parts of the lounge were successfully squeezed through the gate after their stumpy little legs were unscrewed with an old Allen key.

And Thirdly, the BBQ. Or, perhaps more honestly, an outdoor, stainless steel kitchen alternative for outdoors that could quite possible be used as an extra-funky stable should the Flemington racecourse be squeezed for space. "Oh don't worry," said Mr Bald Barbecues Galore. "They all come in flat-packs, so it's easy for our TWO guys to deliver."

"Plus," he added over-brightly, "It will only take you about THREE HOURS to put together yourself." Sneaking a quick glance at my husband saw him go slightly pale under his tan as he muttered, "Or seven and a lot of swearing in my case."

A couple of days later and the delivery service rang to say that the meat-lover's machine was on its way. Another 43C day when the truck arrived and two burly blokes rang my doorbell. "Oh hi, you've got our BBQ haven't you? I'll just go and open the side gate and------"

Burly Bloke One held up his black-nailed paw. "Sorry darl, but we can already see that your gate isn't wide enough."

I blinked. Tears or dust, I was no longer sure. "What do you mean? Surely a flatpack can be edged in and----"

Burly Bloke Two stepped out from under the shade of the tree, flexing the naked lady tatt on his upper arm. "Nah, love, it's all set up. Come and have a look," and he flung the doors of the truck open. The box inside -if 'box' is not too humble a description - resembled something that could quite easily host SexPo much more cheaply than the Exhibition Centre: the truck was about to give birth to a slightly-smaller, weight-equivalent cardboard version of itself.

It wasn't dust in my eyes this time but tears. For Love Chunks, who was already dreaming of what kind of sizzling, oily and smoky concoctions he'd be creating and cooking outside when he got home from work. I choked them back, waving vaguely at the truck, saying "It'll have to go back until we work out how we can lift it in..."

"Ya could tell your hubby to knock off the gate and the posts; that'd get 'er in, no worries," said BB2, trying to cheer me up.

It didn't work. "Or you guys could lift it up over the fence?"
Their mocking laughter sent a chill through me even though I was drenched in sweat. And tears. "Yeah right darl, the bastard weighs 135 kilos."


And so it came to pass that we rang Barbecues Galore who said they'd arrange for BB1 and BB2 to return on Saturday when Love Chunks would be home and therefore able to undo the box ("He has to do it or BB1 and BB2 can charge you an 'unpacking fee' of $250"), remove the acres of foam packaging and then wheel the monster inside the gate, up the side of the house and around the back. OK then.

Saturday came. No BB1, BB2 or BBQ. Love Chunks rang Mr Galore. A few minutes on hold, only to be advised, "Nah mate, you're not on the list for today. They're coming some time on Wednesday."

Love Chunks patiently explained that he'd arranged it to be Saturday because of the unpacking issue.

Mr Galore appeared not to comprehend. "Nah mate, it's Wednesday."

LC explained a third time, slightly more tersely. "I work. I can't hang around all day. The point of the Saturday delivery was so that I'd be home to unpack the friggin...."

He listened, fingers tapping on our table in a staccato dance of digit anger. "No, I'll tell you a fourth time. I am NOT prepared to, 'let it stay outside until I get home from work' on Wednesday....."

He lost. It is coming on Wednesday.

There was a tiny victory of sorts. If Love Chunks rings that morning, they might - just might - be able to give him a 'three hour window' to estimate the delivery time.

Bloody gate.


Catherine said...

That's so friggin typical of so called service delivery places, right up there with Telecom. I remember I had to take a whole day off to get some rat poisoning put on my roof because they couldn't tell me a time - very annoying!

River said...

They sold you a flat-pack, they should have delivered a flat pack...on the bright side love Chunks doesn't have to sweat through several hours of assmbling it. It looks great by the way, is the picture of the actual item purchased?
Sad about your modular having to be cut though.

Anonymous said...

well the one thing in common with engtland and Oz, they never turn up when they are supposed to and are as helpful as a bath in a glasshouse! still all looks good, think yourself hot, well we are cold, currently snowing outside. just abpve freezing and the heatings broken, not sure which is worst


TOM said...

What a drag !! I hope round 2 on the deliveries goes better (-:

Baino said...

Oh no and in all that heat as well, no longer you were brought to tears! I'm fortunate to have three sets of French doors otherwise all my furniture would be flat pack and from Ikea . .erm I'm pretty good with an alun key!

squib said...

Lucky Saph plays viola and not piano Kath


Kath Lockett said...

Catherine, you are right but this time Telstra have been the good guys; no hassles at all.

River - flatpack, shmatpack. We just want our BBQ, sob...

Nuttynotons - can I borrow your line 'as helpful as a bath in a glasshouse' ?

Thanks Tom. Round two is this Wednesday, with Love Chunks hanging around during that much-discussed 'three hour window' and me on hand to whip it out of the box and wheel it around to the back. Fingers crossed.

Baino, oh to have French doors - like driveways, they are LUXURY items here in Flemington.

Squib, Sapphire may play the viola (and guitar and recorder), but dearest Love Chunks plays the piano. At year three level, so scales and repetition of songs are still a regular feature of our after-dinner repertoire....

River said...

Forgot to ask, does your new treadie have a deent length cord on it?

Helen said...

That sounds like delivery places here! Excecpt that we usually have big dogs who try and eat the delivery men... I played viola when I was Sapphire's age and kept it going for over 10 years, must really dig it out sometime...

ashleigh said...

You need a crane. Just a little one, enough to get over the fence.

OR you could do a Wallace and Gromit - a fence that lies itself down.

There's a weekend project!!!

OR.... is france we saw some REALLY COOL Bollards. They dropped down under the road to let buses into a bus park, and then popped up after. Must have been hydraulic or something.

I can just see you with a fence like that. You'd be the envy of the neighbourhood. People would come from far and wide for a demo.

OK... i'll stop being silly now.