“Can you please just get them to give me the money so we can finally put an end to this nightmare?”
I awake around midday, the sunlight pouring through the tinted windows of the van. I feel like a sausage roll, sweating inside my sleeping bag. I think about the grueling drive ahead of me, and smile inside as I realise I get to do it solo. I can take my time, I can stop when I want, I can even have a nap if I want to. I think i’d enjoy this job a lot more if it wasn’t for the clients.
Being the absolute sap that I am, I had previously advised the guys in the band that I would do my best to take a longer way around the route to attempt to avoid some of the tolls en route. After about 8 hours of navigating winding village roads and realising i’m spending just as much in fuel attempting this strategy, I just give up and take the highways. Why should I be trying to save them money anyway? The tolls on the French and Italian highways are pretty brutal though, and as you can imagine if you’ve ever done this drive, 200 euros is not enough to get me home. I think it maybe just about covers the tolls.
The drive itself is pretty glorious though. It’s a sunny day despite it being November, and the scenery is just amazing. After driving through Mont Blanc I need to stop to fuel up, and I decide i’ll grab a coffee whilst i’m there. I sit outside with my laptop, enjoying the free wifi, and before I know it i’ve just sat there soaking up the ambience for about 2 hours.
It’s a long, LONG day of driving before I decide to stop for the night around half an hour outside of Calais. It’s probably gone midnight by this point, and the crossing has been booked for 6.45am the next morning. I grab some precious van sleep before completing the final leg of this torturous chapter of my life.
I’m early to rise, primed to make the ferry in good time. As I approach the loading area, there’s a fair bit of chaos as lanes are closed and various signs give contrasting information. I see the left lane says ‘CITY’ so I reason I obviously need to be in the right lane. After a minute or two, it becomes apparent that i’ve entered the freight loading area. Still exhausted and barely awake, I take a minute to consider my options. By the time I decide I’ll just pull out and find the passenger terminal, i’m all out of options as i am now surrounded on all 4 sides by huge lorries. Utterly helpless and pathetically frustrated, I sit in this steel sandwich and watch the clock tick past my boarding time as nothing appears to be moving.
Eventually, engines roar into life and within minutes the lorries are cleared and we’re fed into a different area. This area contains a roundabout with an exit to the passenger terminal, so i slope off into the correct terminal and join yet another queue. In a rare bit of good fortune, i’m not charged any extra for missing my crossing and am just pushed back to a later one.
I’m finally back in England, and after a few more hours of driving I meet the band at their practise space. I’ve had a quick glimpse at the receipts and have a rough figure in my head, which i’m happy to settle for. The band tell me they’ve left the key to the merch tin at home, and would it be possible for them to transfer the amount over. Admittedly, this is where my trusting nature gets the better of me as I agree to this without threatening to break any legs, hold on to any gear or frogmarching them to a cash machine.
Surprise surprise, the band begin to ignore my attempts at communicating with them when I ask for this money. I try i think 2 or 3 different members, no response. It’s not a huge amount, and I’m aware of how much money they’ve lost on this tour, but i’m obviously not prepared to let it go. After they shirk any responsibility, i’m forced to go back to their manager who had previously sorted out payment. All props to him, he handles it professionally and keeps in touch with me with progress. After a few days, and after previously agreeing to an amount, he states that the band need to see all of the receipts before they’re happy paying. Fair request, dick move.
I send over all the receipts, and realise i’ve actually shortchanged myself by a fair bit and the total is considerably more than I first thought. Bet they wish they’d just settled now, right? Finally, they pay.
£5 less than agreed.
I let it go.
Fuck this tour.