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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."

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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Day I killed Ten Lawyers. Almost



The day starts off quite well.  I have all the winery visits scheduled, the 12-seater coach is booked for a 1.00 pm pickup in order to pick up the group of ten lawyers from a west Auckland conference and hotel facility located deep in native bush at 2.00 pm.

I get to the car hire place with time to spare.  But the place is locked.  I look around and checked my watch, but …nobody home.  Shit.
So I ring the manager’s mobile.  “Oh!  So sorry!  We completely forgot!  I think the guy next door has a key so you can get the coach key.”   I find the guy in the shop next door.  He looks everywhere – nope.  No key.  I ring the manager  back.  He’s flustered.  “I’m on the other side of town, I’ll get there ASAP.”  It’s now 1.15
Time slows – the minutes tick by.  My gut is in a knot as I obsessively check the time. Finally he screams up in his car, I rapidly sign papers with  and scramble into the coach with about 25 minutes to get there.  It starts raining.  Heavily.
The winding, narrow roads of Titirangi weave in and out of rain squalls and native bush as the wipers nyoink-nyoink, nyoink-nyoink ineffectually trying to clear sheets of water from the windscreen. 

At last I spot the entrance to the conference place.  It is marked by a gate, flanked by two white concrete pillars.  My pulse is racing, I’m dry-lipped with anxiety and I’m already ten minutes late.  I pull on the wheel to turn right off the main road and misjudge the turn, scraping the side of the coach on the square pillar as the car enters the gate.  I don’t stop.
I get there at ten past two and luckily they are only now meandering down to the lobby for the pickup.  The rain intensifies as ten lawyers load into the coach and we finally set off to the vineyards.

The torrential rain makes visibility appalling, compounded by steamed-up windows.  On one inside corner, I drive too far onto a patch of gravel on the roadside.  The coach slides to the left and tips off balance.  I brake, and the rear end slides almost out of control.  I pull the steering wheel to the right and finally the tyres bite into solid tar seal and the coach regains normal control.  Whew.   It was pretty close.   

The lawyers get very drunk, insist that I stop at a Microbrewery on the way back, get drunker cruder and louder.  I finally make it home around six p.m., exhausted.  The insurance excess is $1,000 and I make a loss of about $500 on the whole exercise. 

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