The car bounced over the dirt road of potholes and approached the expansive, looming warehouse building that was once so full of life and bustling activity. Paper and plastic fast–food litter gathered up by the breeze blew across the distribution centre parking area and beyond to be fought over by boney, mongrel dogs. A short time ago the yard would not be a place for an idle visitor as liveried juggernauts and ant-like fork lift trucks toiled away around the clock. Noise, dust, fumes, shouting, revving, the hiss of pneumatic brakes; no more.
Entrance to the office building was beyond the waiting room with its familiar mismatched furniture, faint smell of illicit smoke and the accompanying stale odour of tired drivers and their diesel machines. The subdued tip-tap of fingers on keyboards generating loading and transport documents supporting someone’s Route To Market had long gone. No more chattering from the tractor printer feeding on green/white paper from a seemingly endless box below. No camaraderie, no arrangements for the weekend, no telephones ringing; the only sound was the noticeably slowing tick-tock of the drink-branded plastic clock which in turn would slowly but surely grind to a halt at one precise second in time. The beige Ikea infrastructure unchanged from the last day of productive work.
The previously secure and “authorised personnel only” door into the storage area was propped open by a tightly rolled newspaper with the dusty headline recording the passage of 2 years of hope-filled EU membership. Spitting cats scattered rapidly fearing the entrance of their fast-food chasing canine enemies. Dirty yellow fork-life trucks sat huddled in one corner like juvenile play-ground gossips connected to chargers that no longer dispensed energy. The once firm, shiny black seats repaired and renovated with stretch-film, tape and cardboard. Names scratched into the truck paint revealing the identities of the long gone jockeys.
No beeping, no screech of rubber and no ecstatic laughing when a pallet falls and spills its liquid sku load. Once you could not see from one end of the building to the other as hundreds and thousands of cases, drums, IBCs and big bags filled the mega-Meccano skeleton. Now only the blue painted skeleton with orange boots remains taught and proud with the bumps and bruises of battle visible on the lower levels and a scattering of splintered wooden pallets, also blue.
The loading bays all had their shuttered eyes firmly closed to the outside world. Would they be ever be prised open again to receive and dispatch FMCG goods like foods, detergents, drinks and wine? For now the loading bays only received the attention of endlessly sweeping flocks of pigeons and what they generously leave behind.
The rusty padlock and chain were replaced with a clunk and the warehouse was empty again and for how long? The dogs chased the litter; the cats produced a litter and the pigeons left their telling mark on a once thriving warehouse in Romania.