The Turkey Run 1968
‘Inspector of Agents’ was the grandiose title that Tim had. He worked for a prestigious general insurance company based in Dublin and his function was to call on established Agents of the company in order to develop business introduced by those agents, to collect their accounts, to handle their claims and generally foster the interests of the company. He also had to promote good relations with the more important clients in his area.
A client in this latter category happened to be an exporter of poultry and poultry products who had his business in a town some thirty miles from Dublin. Over the years Tim, who provided exemplary service to his clients, became on friendly terms with him and on a routine P.R. call, around Christmas, he was presented with a turkey – free of charge. Not only that, but the client told Tim if any of his colleagues required a turkey for Christmas they could avail of a substantial discount on same.
Tim’s colleagues were given this news, but on a very limited basis – close friends only! Come Saturday, two such friends accompanied him on a trip to the turkey store where, true to his word, the poulterer did the needful and they returned with two fine birds at practically half price. Such was their gratitude that they stood Tim a pub lunch and a couple of tinctures as well.
The following Easter Tim had four colleagues in his car as they drove to the turkey store where they were again cordially received and four turkeys were brought home in triumph.
They had stopped on the way down for a “jar” – just a quick one – and had another on the way back, followed by a snack and some more “drinkies” after the car was garaged. Tim enjoyed the day and after all he told himself it was “good for business”.
During the remainder of that year Tim checked with his client to make sure that he didn’t mind being visited by “a few more” of his closest friends, on the understanding that Tim would introduce them personally. He was very relieved when the client raised no objection because news of this turkey “el dorado” had spread rather further around the office than Tim had originally intended.
By the time Christmas was approaching Tim received a rather peremptory note from one of the Head Office department managers, called “Theo”, requesting his presence. This particular manager was, to quote Tim, “a thorny little bastard” whom nobody liked, so he wasn’t looking forward to the meeting. He assumed that there had been some complaint about some case or other and he was on edge when he responded to the summons. He was not, however, prepared for the reception he got for he was shown into a chair and offered a cup of coffee. Before he could recover, he was offered a cigarette and a light.
Theo smiled affably at the astonished Tim and said “this is not about business Tim.” He paused and then continued, “No, it’s just that I want to ask you a favour; could I please join in your “Turkey Run?”
Tim was dumfounded and was nodding agreement when Theo added “and could I bring my two Chief Clerks as well?”
Again Tim nodded and left the room in a daze.
Well, to cut to the chase, so to speak, the net result was that two days before Christmas Eve FOUR company cars – eighteen people – left Head Office for the trip to the turkey store. I should add that this was before “drunk driving” was outlawed, which was just as well because this convoy stopped at several hostelries along the way. The Christmas spirit was in full swing and on arrival most of the party was in fine form, including Theo, who was in fact legless and stayed in the car while the turkeys were being purchased.
Such was the gratitude of this party that they insisted on bringing the client “across the road” for a Christmas drink. This process took over an hour and Theo surprised all by joining the company and buying his round and later collecting his turkey.
On the way home they stopped at more inns and a fish & chip shop and yet more drink was consumed. Theo, meanwhile, insisted on keeping his turkey on his lap and was so drunk that one of the lads tied the neck of the turkey to Theo’s wrist “so that he wouldn’t lose it.” (Drunken logic is so crystal clear!) Incidentally, he used the belt off Theo’s gabardine to accomplish this task.
The various guys lived in different areas of Dublin and by the time the drivers deciphered the garbled instructions they were getting the hour was getting extremely late. Theo complicated everything by refusing to tell anyone where he lived and oddly enough nobody knew. However, the “committee” of his fellow drunks decided that he definitely lived in Harold’s Cross, so they dropped him off there at around 2 a.m.… By that time nobody really cared whether he got home or not.
At approximately 4 a.m., accompanied by two policemen, he arrived at his home in Ranelagh – miles from Harold’s Cross – where he rang the bell, being incapable of using the key. After a while his wife appeared and seeing the state of him she said “Where in God’s name were you till this hour?”
Theo smiled sheepishly and replied with a vestige of dignity “I was getting a turkey my dear.”
“What turkey?” she almost shouted.
“This Turkey,” he said triumphantly, holding up his right arm to which there was attached the head and neck of a turkey. That was all that was left of the poor bird, which had been dragged all the way from Harold’s Cross to Ranelagh.
The two policemen had found Theo wandering in the streets in the small hours and had found an envelope in his pocket with his name and address.
Later, they recounted their part of the saga to their amused friends and eventually it filtered back to the office where it was forever hotly denied by Theo.
©Geoff Cronin 2005
About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – 2017
There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.
Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.
Thank you for dropping in today and you can read the previous chapters of The Colour of Life in this directory: