Volunteer retail drivers…a rare and hardy breed…often spotted on and around the A590… rarely still long enough to photograph!
I’m fortunate that in my role as Retail Operations Manager no two days are the same and this week I’ve had the opportunity to go out on the road with John our volunteer retail driver…what a revelation! John, I salute you…I never realised just what the job entailed…you need to be a problem solver, be super flexible (in both your timing and your body!), have great organisational and communication skills, love driving and people and have a great sense of humour…of course John ticks all the boxes, aren’t we lucky!
John gets his job list emailed to him the night before…he likes this because it means he can plan his day and look up places he is unsure about, he always starts at the hospice where he picks up the van, empties the donation station and collects paperwork for the shops. Then the real work begins…Ulverston shop, drop off paperwork, nothing to pick up…petrol station, fill up tank…Dalton shop, drop off paperwork pick up an absolute mountain of donations…Barrow shop, empty van of stock…warehouse, drop off high vis vests for Walk To Remember…customer pick up, customer unsure what items we can take so John explains…back to warehouse, empty van…before you know it we’re 2 hours into the shift and we’ve been so busy…Millom next stop, but on the way we need to call at Dalton to pick up stock for Millom and then the hospice for collection tins…phew it’s all go!
The journey to Millom gave us our first real chance to chat…it was really nice to not only hear some of John’s anecdotes about the job but also to find out a little bit more about the man himself.
John the man, a design engineer who 30 years ago built his own car (which is still running now…wow!), passionate about family…3 beautiful grandchildren all vying for his attention, well-travelled with some great stories to share.
John the volunteer…he has seen it all, no 2 days…no 2 jobs are the same! Last week he had 2 customer collections on his list, the first house easy-peasy…1 carrier bag, back in van to next pick up…30 black bin bags of clothing…upstairs! John had to carry all the bags downstairs, load them in the van then drive to Barrow shop and unload them before the shop closed…hero!
It’s not always about the donations…sometimes it’s the people…the gentleman who didn’t want to just hand over his items but wanted to talk and show off the models he had made…John made the time for this…a connection made over old shipyard chatter…priceless!
And of course we can’t forget the humour…before John leaves the hospice to start his shift Carolyn…his wife and hospice reception volunteer, warns him about the dangers of going upstairs with bikini clad women in the middle of winter! I raise an eyebrow and ask to hear more…it seems when John was still a novice retail driver and doing a customer collection he was greeted one cold November morning by a bikini clad lady who ushered him upstairs to gather her donations…it was of course all totally innocent and John left the house unscathed…but Carolyn has never forgotten and issues her warning weekly!
Thank you John for an amazing morning out on the retail van…I can’t wait to do it again.