Chubb had some twelve installation engineers and the same number of service engineers to cover from the Leeds regional branch, the density of installations meant that two of the service engineers worked exclusively in town centres, one in Leeds and one in Bradford.
Known as town walkers, they did not have a company car, as this would be an inconvenience every day as it would likely be parked whilst the engineers walked around the customers premises. Hence these engineers were known as town walkers.
There were of course issues, should a town walker require a ladder, this would have to be dropped off and collected again after the repair was completed.
On one occasion, I was working with a service engineer when the call came in, the town walker required a ladder right in the middle of town in the pedestrianised precinct. We drove as near as we could get, then unfastened the ladders from the roof of the car, I was told to carry them the last five hundred yards to the location, and they were heavy.
We hung around until the repair was completed, then, as expected I was told to carry the ladders back to the car. On arrival I was exhausted, having now carried the triple extension wood ladder five hundred yards twice in half an hour, and uphill on the way back.
I put the ladders on top of the car and took a breather. Meanwhile the engineer had been sitting in the car on the radio advising this job was complete and he was taking a lunch break.
He jumped out of the car and said, right I’m off to the sandwich shop around the corner, I followed and bought lunch and we sat on a bench in the town centre for twenty minutes for a late lunch.
By now, it was nearly four o’clock, so the engineer told me to call it a day and that I could catch a bus home from the town centre as he was heading home in the opposite direction to me.
We parted company and I caught the bus home, this was not ideal as my motorcycle was parked in the stores, meaning I would need to catch a bus the following day.
When I arrived at work in the morning, my favourite supervisor Gordon wanted a word, in his office was the service engineer I had been working with the day before.
I received an almighty rollocking and a written warning from Gordon. It would seem that the engineer had not checked his ladders after lunch and had driven away with them unsecured.
At the first set of traffic lights, the car stopped but the ladders shot forwards and slid along the road. They narrowly missed pedestrians crossing but were run over by a bus and written off.
Quite how this was my fault I could not comprehend, why the service engineer was in the office when I was given the warning was a mystery too. But I suppose, it was always the apprentice’s fault if anything went wrong.