The Passing Storm

Coffee Break Read

“You are listening to West Coast Radio, it’s five past three and time now for the weather with Rachel.”

“Thanks Paul, well unfortunately the sunshine is about to leave us as a band of heavy rain moves in from the west, which will be followed by gale force winds on exposed Atlantic coastline. Tommorrow will bring ……..

I turned off the radio, just to get rid of the noise. On the passenger seat sat a laptop, tablet and my smartphone. The dashboard has a sat nav which effectively runs my life. Oh yeah and add in the car tracker for a nice neat package of external control and monitoring. A cell in prison is bigger than the confines of this car. My next call was in Newport, then on to Achill for the last two calls of the day. Just as I was leaving Westport my phone rang. It had to be answered. Our biggest customer in the west had to be spoken to. Praise would have to be lavished on them for five minutes before I took their order. There waiting for me just around the next bend was a checkpoint. Up came the hand and out came the notebook. Lovely. Two very polite Gardai lovingly gave me my now familiar fixed penalty notice, which brought my bulging points total to eleven. A regional sales manager on the brink. Why am I on the brink? Because of expectations, that’s why. Before I left Westport I was expected to be in Achill after having called to Newport. That’s the way it’s gone now. Get yourself to the next call before you leave the last one.

Don’t get confused by my title of regional sales manager. I sell sweets and crisps. Smiling every day at customers trying to get the best placement for my products as I can. “Get them right under their noses, make them trip up on them, sell, sell, sell, your figures are flat Don, loads of room for lots of improvement”. The boss was always very understanding and encouraging.

The call in Newport was a disaster. No order there for me. Just a big credit note for out of date crisps. Typed in Achill on the sat nav. Email alert flashing on my tablet. Phone constantly ringing. Take the N59 to Mulranny, then take the R319 to Achill. Estimated journey time is …….

I took the road to Mulranny. Full of slow driving tourists enjoying the pleasures and scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way. Everyone in my way. Each of them going to Achill slowly, more than likely they would be my best customers there. It was their money being spent on my products. But they are a nuisance, how can I get anything done with all these people in my way. All I ever saw was the road in front and the screen of the sat nav. I probably didn’t realise I was on the coast, never took the time to look left or right. The phone rang once again and this time I stopped. It was just on the way in to Mulranny. I rolled down the window and all of a sudden I could hear this whispering. The sea was whispering to me. It looked spectacular, and more importantly peaceful, very, very peaceful. Take the R319 out of Mulranny and continue on …… "No," I shouted at the sat nav again, “No”. That felt good. Instead I took the coast road after the church. Just as the storm was beginning to bare its teeth. Needed to find somewhere with no phone signal. Can’t turn off the phone, that’s too obvious and too easy. This was now a challenge. No 3g or 4g or any g. The phone had to stay alive but become inanimate. My plan was working. The signal bars were beginning to drop. Instead of me cracking up it was my customers, albeit on the phone. This was a plan that was working.

White caps started to appear on top of the swelling seas. The wind was whipping up beautifully. The promised storm was coming and I wanted to be in the middle of it. Huge sheets of rock to one side of me. Driving on the edge now and it felt good, beginning to feel liberated. Finally no phone signal. Working but rendered useless. Clew Bay was putting on a show. I felt special. This show was for me. I parked up right at the edge of a small rock face which tapered down into the bay. Waves started to roll, then rise to form huge walls of water, ready to consume. Each one trying to catch the one in front. Slamming into the rock faces below me, trying to crush before slipping away to rejoin and repeat.

As the storm intensified my stress levels ebbed. Rain hammered away with herculean efforts to penetrate. Winds wrapped around the car, like the waves trying to clear their path of obstructions. In the middle of the madness of the storm an idle, gentle sleep fell over me. No gadgets beeping, probing or alerting. Asleep with a smile on my face. The storm had passed when I woke. Clew Bay was sparkling in the early morning sun. Expectant seabirds danced around to see what pleasures the storm had left behind. Small fishing vessels were chugging their way out to sea, each skipper guaranteed nothing only the thrill of being able to cast his nets, giving him a chance. Calm mornings offering hope. It occurred to me hope won't fill nets but the ability to hope will help.

With great reluctance I started the car, hoping, no praying, that this wasn’t a dream, that this place was real. Pointing the car towards  Achill. I drove uncertainly. Tentatively looking at the phone. The damn thing was coming to life. I wondered would it be able to float. Maybe that’s the only thing it can’t do. Tempting, very tempting.

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