It’s a couple of days after completing our final journey to France from the UK, a lengthy 13-hour trip that I won’t miss. The contents of our house has, as it will not fit inside a mark 8 Honda Civic, made its own way there.
That’s to say we’ve hired a removal company – we don’t live in The Beast’s house from Beauty And The Beast and so our furniture cannot walk and catch a plane, train or automobile. It is also incapable, praise the lord, of singing.
If my furniture could sing it would also be screaming as I would burn it immediately.
Or sell it on eBay.
But I digress.
The removal guys have just finished unloading all our furniture. They are from a Polish, UK-based company, but are not Polish themselves, rather they are Romanian.
They’ve done their work efficiently and quickly up to this point, although the older – let’s say, ‘cuddlier’ – one of the two has moaned a few times about the boxes being unlabelled. ‘I don’t know where it goes’ he has said on several occasions, sweat running down his face, ‘but it’s heavy’.
I’ve felt bad, as I have been unable to offer them a hot drink – they have my kettle! – but they don’t seem interested anyway, just keen to finish.
It’s just before 3pm – they arrived at 9.30am – and now they have placed the last piece of furniture in the living-room and are ready to set off to their next destination (‘Toulouse’ they tell me ‘ten hours’ drive’ ‘You will have a break though?’ I venture, the only response I get is a shrug of their shoulders).
They then become uncharacteristically chatty, well the cuddlier one does anyway. Am I buying this house? Renting? How much is the rent? Why am I moving to France? the questions keep coming.
I answer them to the best of my ability – there are a lot of unknowns about my current, and future, situation. Cuddly removal man then pours out his heart to me.
I learn that he pays £600 to rent one bedroom in a house in London. He can’t save any money. He hasn’t seen his 18-month-old son for a long time. He used to work on cruise ships as a chef, the money was good, he once earned £2,500 per month on a smaller boat cooking for a family of five. He might buy a couple of vans, and come to France, set up his own business. He can’t afford the rent.
This goes on for some time and there’s a definite air of expectation about them, then I realise – they want a tip.
I’ve encountered this kind of behaviour before. Once in Tunisia on an all-inclusive a barman that had been incredibly distant with us throughout our two weeks there suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree on our last day, hoping we’d leave him our unwanted change.
We’ve paid out almost three-thousand pounds for them to move us and, despite the authentic performance being put on, they have two major obstacles in their way.
The first is that I do not respond well to this kind of tactic, it puts my back up and it also sours the otherwise impeccable nature of their service.
The second, and most immovable obstacle is the simple fact that I don’t have a Euro to my name. I’m a pauper. Oh on paper I’ve got a few quid – I’m not stupid – but it’s all UK money, the markets being dreadful at the moment.
I’m also lacking employment, so until this changes someone wanting a tip out of me has more chance of getting blood out of a stone.
Maybe I’m being too cynical, maybe they weren’t after a tip and just wanted a sympathetic ear…
…but no, I’m fairly sure that if the cuddly one was on his own he’s have rubbed his fingers and coughed suggestively at me, the universal sign for ‘Give me some extra money for a service that you have already paid for’.