But ours are all very gainfully employed. So keep on walking all you mischievous sprites, there’s nothing for you to see here.
March is a notoriously busy month for us. But this year it chewed us up and spat us out with such ferocity that it was Easter before we’d fully comprehended that it was even April. In the same vein, it’s now May but we have no idea where the rest of April went.
We can’t tell you exactly why this year in particuar, these months have felt more intense. But, if pushed on it, we’d hazard a guess that it’s because the early arrival of some unseasonably warm days woke you all up with a start from your winter hibernation. And, as you rubbed the sleep from your blurry eyes, you were already beating that well-trodden path to our waterways.
At this time of year we find ourselves renewing licences and mooring permits and welcoming back old friends, sending out new sanitary station keys to replace the one which can’t be found now but that will inevitably turn up somewhere later this summer, replacing returned pump out cards that now don’t work because they’ve been bent, placed too near to a magnet, got damp or been abused in some other way over the winter (note: it’s far easier to abuse these cards than one might reasonably think).
We have long conversations with new boat owners and with people who would like to bring their rowing boat, kayak, canoe, bathtub, miniature electric sailboat onto our navigations and reservoirs. We discuss emergency stoppages, routes and lock dimensions with people who are planning their journeys. We talk about places to moor, living on boats, council tax and housing benefit. We speak to people who are ill, have broken down, lost their jobs or are about to have a baby.
We take reports of fly tipping, rubbish, oil leaks and fallen trees and ducklings stuck in lock chambers. Interested people ask us what we’re doing about a section of towpath or hedgerow. We talk to people about to embark on a new business venture or who’d just like to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We try to reunite lost keys or dogs with their owners and owners with boats that have gone adrift.
We ask people to support us in our cause and we support people who need to find their cause. We’re on the firing line when it goes wrong and the receiving end when it all goes right.
We get to sit within that grey area between our colleagues and customers, seeing things from everyone’s point of view has its benefits. It’s interesting, rewarding and amusing but sometimes stressful.
We are the pragmatic protagonists and this is our time to shine.
After all, where else can you go to work and be met with variety beyond your wildest imagination and a day so full to the brim that it’s home time before you’ve even begun?
Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!See more blogs from this author