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Jobs: My day - Mike Swift:The man with a load on his mind; Jobwell done in Texanheat, flood andmud.

Byline: JANE GALLAGHER

FORMER Sefton Chamber of Commerce chief, Mike Swift, 49, has a business background in the international operation of goods vehicles for hire and reward, together with shipping and air freight.

Mike, who lives in Southport, recently set up his own business Inglemell. Here he relives the longest and wettest day of his life during the recent Texas floods . . .

6am: Wake up call in the motel that has been home base for the last three days in a very soggy part of the world. The Texans have never seen weather as bad as this, houses locally are damaged and one is filmed floating down a street!

6.45am: Pick up roadside breakfast and a huge mug of vanilla black coffee.

6.55am: Rendezvous with US truck driver dispatched from Houston. He has made good time with the container we have to load for shipment back to Europe.

7am: I arrive at the property; we show the truck driver the barn where we have prepared the goods at the loading point.

7.15am: Truck and trailer gets stuck in the mud. I need to move quickly and minimise our standing costs, I also do not want the additional hotel costs and to have to change the flight home arrangements if we cannot load to day. I find and speak with a local towing company.

9am: I send a text message to client in England just to keep them informed.

10.30am: Huge four-wheeled drive tow vehicle positions the truck, trailer and container near to the loading door of the barn; because of the weather we can not use the dock level door and we now have to lift all items to waist height The temperature moves into the high 80s and it's still raining.

11.30am: While we are loading our forklift arrives. By this time we have seen our first two live scorpions in the barn. They have come inside to keep dry and prefer the dark areas under the boxes and dismantled machinery that we are loading.

1.30 pm: I take a break from loading and start to discuss with the truck driver how he is going get off site. It is still raining! 2.30pm: Cloud has cleared, rain stopped, I take a lunch break in the sunshine and this remarkable Texas countryside. My sandwiches even taste better out doors.

3pm: A teenager from a neighbouring farm comes over and offers to help us load. All goes well, he is as strong as an ox. Then he tells me about the rattle snake he shot the day before!

4pm: Rain starts again, loading nearly complete, by now my live scorpion count has reached four.

4.30pm: My wife phones my cell phone ``Just seen the BBC TV pictures about the floods'' Yes, I am OK. It's raining, we've lost some time but we are back on course.

5pm: At last I can shut the container doors, seal up and finish the paperwork.

5.15pm: Truck, trailer and loaded container move away from barn and guess what? Yes it all gets stuck in the mud.

5.30pm: I send a text message to my client in England `Mission accomplished container on way back to Europe' 6pm: My Texan hosts invite us `back to the house' for dinner so it's a quick drive to the motel for a shower, shave and tidy up the paper work faxing to the shipping line in Houston.

8.30pm: I sample first hand the wonderful and legendary Texan hospitality and home cooking. Just one beer and a glass of wine.

11pm: I arrive back at my motel, it's been along day, my mind starts to think of some R&R in Texas to-morrow.

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ON THE ROAD: Mike Swift
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2002
Words:629
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