Tuesday, 27 March 2012

in which I am offered large quantities of Italian PVC

PVC structure example To optimise logistics for the run on Sunday, I'd turned up with just the running clothes, tee shirt, shorts, nothing to carry. The shorts also only had one of those inside pockets about big enough for a phone or a couple of credit cards. I'd put my car key in it wrapped around with a banknote.

I'd also got plans after the run and had strategically positioned my car, with some extra clothes and a bike in the boot, in one of the streets just behind the Houses of Parliament - about half a mile from where the run had taken place.

So after the run, I'd headed back to the car with my bottle of water and my number still pinned to my slightly comic tee-shirt.

I was actually sitting in the car drinking the rest of the water when someone pulled up alongside me in a blue car.

"How do I get to Heathrow?" he asked.

"Turn right at the end of the street onto the Embankment, follow the road along by the river and look for signs A4 and the M4," I replied.

"A4, M4," he repeated, "Are you Italian?"

"Strange," I thought.

"I am from Milan," he continued through the wound down window, "I have just been to a fashion show in London and have some samples that I don't want to take back to Italy. I have to pay extra baggage charges. I'm in the fashion business and would like to give them to you as a gift."

He started to reverse his little blue hire car into the space behind mine.

"Oh yes," I thought, "I haven't heard that one before."

I mused about whether to drive away or let it run. I decided to see what would happen next.

He opened the door to his car and showed me the pile of new clothes. They all had 'Sample' written on their cardboard labels. There were leather coats and suits with the pockets elaborately stitched closed, like you see in more upmarket stores.

The thing is, I've been down this path before. Some places I've worked have whole economies built on fake products. In other places, like Canal Street in New York, it's almost sport. The fancy watch I had for three years until the battery ran down was from a car park when I was on the way back from an airport.

So when the guy started to use words like 'Armani' and the goods had words like 'Emporio' on them, I was convinced it was a scam.

Maybe I'd let it runs few minutes longer, until I'd finished drinking my water.

"Here, my friend, have this and this and this and this, for free to help me reduce my baggage. I get all of this given to me but it's no use because I'm in the business."

He'd been placing jackets and suits into a big carrier bag. They all had Italian logos on them.

"Thank you but I'm sure this isn't necessary," I started to say, whilst thinking when's the big question...

"My friend, these are all free for you, I just ask one small thing."

Here it comes

"My son, it is his birthday, he is eighteen," He wrote the numbers 1 and 8 on the side of the car for effect. "It is his birthday when I get back to Milan, I just ask that you give me something so that I can buy him a present at Heathrow. Look I will put these items into your car."

I was thinking it was enough. I'd seen how it worked. I'd pointed out that I was just back from a run.

"Er, I don't have any money," I said.

"Not a problem," he replied, "you have cards?"

Yeah right.

"No," I explained quite truthfully,"I don't have any cards in my running clothes. I just carry a very small amount of money." (Quite true - my cards were elsewhere).

I saw his slightly crestfallen look and him starting to rebalance the items he'd been willing to donate to me.

"Look, I have this very small amount of money - that's it"

He looked at me and I saw him register properly that I was wearing running clothes, a number pinned to my front and a ribbon with a medal around my neck. I honestly think he decided to fold.

"Here," he said, "I'll take this," as he took the note from my hand and handed me the carrier bag full of jackets.

I waited to embrace the aroma of free monomers.

No comments: