I have just finished a thirty hour working week in three days, and I am tired. Today, just as it got to five o'clock and we were down to one customer, and I was beginning to think that I could spend the last hour peacefully putting pots back in order and watering a few climbers I'd noticed were dry, the delivery of Italian plants that the manager was hoping wouldn't come until tomorrow arrived.
The Italian plants always come in an articulated lorry. The drive at the plant centre is too small to take artics, and the owners always specify that our suppliers mustn't use them, but that doesn't do any good when the plants are coming all the way from Tuscany. One driver did once ignore the No Artics sign and make his way up to the house, and it took a very long time to get him out again. None of us at the plant centre speak Polish, but my colleagues got the gist of what he was saying, and it was not at all polite. Today's driver parked out on the road, meaning that passing traffic had to overtake him slightly too close to a nasty blind corner, and we needed to get the plants offloaded as quickly as possible. The gardener was summoned from the far end of the garden to tow trailer loads of plants up the drive behind the tractor, and the rest of us toiled too and fro pushing the silver trolleys that the customers use.
The young gardener had got a lucky break, since he had the day off to make up for doing car park duty yesterday, and the boss managed to be out, but the owner came and lifted and hauled with the rest of us. We tried to put like with like in neat rows, but most of the magnolias didn't seem to have labels, and I reckon it is going to take the manager most of tomorrow morning and drive him half mad in the process, trying to work out what they all are. By the time we'd finished we had straggling lines of slightly squashed plants flopping over most of the lawn outside the loos. They will look much better once they have been watered and released from the plastic nets they are wrapped in for travel.
I had a close encounter with another delivery in the morning, as a small lorry arrived with some fake lead pots, just as I was loading trays of ferns from the day's very first delivery into a trolley. I summoned the manager over the radio, and the lorry driver, seeing me with the ferns, said cheerfully that I might be able to help him, and began to pick my brains about an Escallonia that he had bought at a car boot sale. I'm always happy to talk plants, and admired his enterprise.
We were busy again. My young colleague was back at work and able to operate the tea room, but the manager and I were left with it while she went for her lunch, which meant that the manager had to do it, since my hands looked as though I'd spent the morning moving trays of ferns around. The manager was already incredibly busy trying to do manager things, and does not know how to work the hot milk machine (neither do I). He tried to fetch my young colleague back from her lunch break, but she had got wise to this ploy, and disappeared to eat her lunch somewhere other than the staff room. We badly need somebody to operate the tea room (Boss, if you are reading this, we need someone to do the tea room. Please.). The manager began to look distinctly frayed at the edges. Even when my young colleague is doing the teas, it takes a great deal of her time, which leaves us with only two people to do everything else. The tills, the telephones, the finding plants for people, the e-mails and the manager things, like ordering the next lorry loads of fake lead pots and Italian plants. Two people can only do so much, though the customers who had to queue to pay while I finished the phone calls I was on when they arrived at the till were very nice about it.
When I got home, my Chelsea Flower Show tickets had arrived, which was a great relief, given our local postal service's record of randomly delivering other people's mail to our house, while things we were expecting fail to arrive at all. I have been gently fretting about the tickets since the start of the month, and was very happy to see them. The Systems Administrator reported that the chickens had laid three eggs, all in the nesting box, on their new regime of more layers' pellets and less grain, so things are looking up on the poultry front as well.