I’ve been in the business of print and publicity for more than thirty five years. And, in these three and a half decades, I thought I’d heard every reason for a job not being delivered on time, or for materials not coming when expected. Some excuses have been pretty far-fetched; the commercial equivalent of “the dog ate my homework”, others have been simple variations on human error, and as I said, I thought I’d heard them all.
That was until recently, when I got an unexpected call from a supplier. He was very sorry but the items I’d ordered were delayed. They wouldn’t be with us for a few more days. But hang on, I’d called just that morning to check everything was okay, I’d been told my pallet would arrive when expected. The goods would be leaving the factory soon and everything was fine – so what’s the problem?
My contact said he was terribly sorry about the confusion. Things were a bit chaotic at their factory, he was trying to confirm the position and he’d call me back as soon as he had more news. They were doing everything they could, but it was hard to track down the production manager as the building had been evacuated earlier in the morning – along with all the others around them.
“Why?” was all I could think of to ask.
“There’s been another earthquake,” he said. “It’s their second in forty eight hours.”
I’m seldom lost for words, but that took my breath away. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have the building shake beneath your feet, and if it happened in Basildon I’m pretty sure I’d disappear through the exit, running and screaming like a four year old girl. Wild horses wouldn’t get me back inside a building that had been shaking like a jelly. The idea of returning to work the next day, and for it to happen again, that’s just too much.
But my contact, who’s based in the UK and pretty chilled about the whole thing, told me tremors are not uncommon in the area of Turkey where their factory’s located. They’re pretty used to it, but the strength of these particular shocks had been a bit more than normal. Normal! What’s normal when you’re talking about the earth trembling under your feet, gaping holes appearing in roads, cars being swallowed whole? Can I suggest zero, as in not shaking at all, is an acceptable “normal”. Anyway, the material arrived a few days later, and my client was very understanding. If you want to you can read more about the event here.
There are some things we can predict, and we make allowances; M25 traffic jams, roadworks and slow moving cranes on single track roads. But shifting tectonic plates on the far side of Europe, is a new one. I hope it’s another thirty five years before I come across it again.