Tankies moving moments, me my coach in Romania, 1 week after the Revolution

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by tankie1rtr, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. tankie1rtr

    tankie1rtr Member

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    Hi Guys.
    I got so many private and post messages regarding "My most moving moment Ever" post, that I though I would put up a new story about my trip to Romania 1 week after the revolution, As I explained I was a Continental Coach Driver, and this is another story, that filled me with humbleness and I sobbed unashamedley, this is a story of people who have nothing, but will give you anything.

    Regards
    tankie
    John
     
  2. tankie1rtr

    tankie1rtr Member

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    Tankies Romanian Revolution Trip.
    I was sitting in my coach after a mornings cleaning for my next trip to Austria, when my coach phone rang, it was the boss who said, "Forget Austria, your going to Roamania, they'v just had a war, get your coach ready",
    My coach was a Vanhool Alize, and we took all the seats out of her right upto the centre door, just leaving the coach with just seats in the front, aprox seating for 24 persons, our pick up point was at a centre wharehouse in London, where we loaded up the inside of the rear of the coach with food, medicines, drugs, bandages, blankets, sheets, pots pans, cups, virtually everything that we could carry as humanitarian aid, we then started to fill the luggage lockers underneath. when we were full, we took on nurses, and doctors, the seats were full, but some if them sat in the center isle,

    I had a second driver "Jeff" who had been my number two for eight years and we were closer than brothers, we went everywhere together, (thats some other story, funny one for a change) we took the ferry from Dover and then we drove through the night, because of Tacho laws we could only drive for 4 hours then we had to have 4 hours away from the wheel, so I would do my stint, then we would change over, I would go into the bunk, and Jeff would drive for his 4 hours, then we would change again, this way we could drive continuous for 22 hrs before we had to stop all together. (I will not draw this post out, or it will read like a novel) the first place we descended on was called Botachan, we stayed with host families, this is were we had a reality check, the family we stayed with had "Nothing" and what they had we would throw on the tip, but they did have their pride,and anything that they had, they would gladly give to us, the family that me and Jeff stayed with had a daughter of 15 and they had a son of 19, but he had not come home, and they did not know if he was alive,

    The lady of the house (I am sorry I do not recall her name) went out and queued at the shop for one and half hours to buy two chicken legs, the were very expensive and she would not have been able to afford them really, myself and Jeff couldnt upset them by declining, so what we did, was eat a little something and then told them that we were full, as we had eaten on the journey down, we knew that what we left on the plate, they (our hosts) would pick at in the kitchen, we felt very humbled, then they presented us with "Marble Cake" its a sort of traditional thing in Romania, we asked if we could retire early as we were tired, they showed us our rooms,

    Two single beds faced each other, there was no wallpaper, and the breeze blocks were not screeded on the outside, you could look through the gap between the breeze blocks whilst you lay in bed, and watch the trams rattle down the street, well this beat the television, they have 4 channels, and the same thing is shown on each channel, and what you miss on tuesday, you can watch on thursday. One programme I will never forget, is the scenes of the securitate being tied to a chair, then leaned back, and having their throats slit, this was being shown to disuade and securitate uprising. and it was shown every night. we stayed 2 days in Botachan, giving out aid and helping the locals, we had not yet reached yet, our target was to rebuild a child orphanage in a place called "Dej".

    We left Botachan, our host huged us and wept as we said goodbye, I said I would return and see them, but I knew I never would. Loaded up we set off for a place called "Yaj" there was the convoy of three coaches, and two artic lorries, we had arrange to stop at a big car park, and give some of a village population some hand outs. we stopped and opened the back doors of the artic and the people crowded around the back of the wagon, we handed out tinned goods, Beans, Tomatoes, Peas, Bags of sugar, dried potatoe powder. I will never forget, there was an old lady, she was very frail, and she held both hands up to Jeff, he passed her down a tin of beans, and a tin of hitdog sausages, she grabbed his hands and kissed them, she looked up at him with tears rolling down her cheeks, gave him a tired smile, and crossed herself, Jeff blew her a kiss. as we watched her go we both had lumps in our throats, yes me an ex Tankie/ Para and Jeff an ex Marine, as the old lady shuffled away a young guy smashed her full in the face with his fist and she went down. he then took the two tins and ran over to a big black car that was parked by the roadside, he gave the tins to a guy who put them in the boot, they were Black Market Rackateers, the young guy then came back to the crowd. Jeff went to the coach and got the Jack handle, this is about 3ft long x 1inch wide and is flat, he came round the front of the wagon and shouted to the young guy that had hit the old lady, as the young guy turned round Jeff hit him square across the side of the face, his went down like a bag of spuds, blood everywhere. and its strange, there was not a doctor or nurse to be found, nudge, wink, the old lady was taken to the coach by some of the girls, and was looked after, she was very very shaken, but she got a lot more than two tins of goods, plus Soap, plus Chocolate, plus, Cream. thinking about it, we probably killed her with kindness.

    We left the car park, with the aid of two policemen complete with AK47s, no laces in their boots, fag in mouth, and slurring their words. we made our way to our main destination "Deg" on arrival, we passed through villages on our 100 mile journey, and saw some strange sites, many of the villages are like cowboy towns, just a dirt road, with ditches either side, Chickens and Turkeys running up and down the road, as we were going along we saw a pair of feet sticking up out of a ditch, just a pair of feet, we slowed down and stopped, I got out to see if the person was ok, about 20ft from him was a donkey connected to a cart that looked as though it had been carved out one tree trunk (the cart, not the donkey) the guy has fallen out of the cart, I looked down at the person who was lying in the ditch, and noticed he was snoring, and he had purple rings around his eyes, strange I though, looks like a plague victim, I knelt down and leaned over him to see if he was breathing, WOW!!! he stunk of booze, I coughed, and one of his eyes creaked open, he said something in giberish, I tried to help him up and when he was on his feet, he got me in a bear hug and squeezed me tight, smothered my face with big wet kisses, and kept repeating the same sentance, I asked the interpreter what he was saying, she replied"God Bless You, Thank You" boy was I relieved, I though he was trying to tell me he loved me, with all the kisses as well, and his bloody beard was rough....

    Apparently the locals make their own booze out of wild berries, and it is very potent, and when they have finished the bottle, they put it upto their eyes and find it great fun to leave a big purple ring round each eye. I left my cuddles behind and we drove on, it was getting dusk, as darkness fell, we drove through the countryside and I spotted a little flickering light before me, I wondered what the hell it was, then I saw this ghostly face look at me from a height of about 12ft, to coin a phrase I nearly Sh*t myself, it turned out that the flickering light was a candle swinging from the axle of an old donkey drawn cart, and the ghostly face that was was 12ft up, was an old farmer sitting on top of a pile of hay/grass, enormously high, and he was shining a torch at his face so we could see him. I didnt smoke, but by hell I needed a fag, or some purple juice. I dont want to sound boring, would you like me to go on??
    Regards
    tankie
     
  3. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Tankie as much as I love your posts plz divide some lines to make it abit easier on the old eyes :)

    You know like:

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    (Space between)
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    (Space between)
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    Anyway keep the stories coming :)
     
  4. tankie1rtr

    tankie1rtr Member

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    Soren.
    Sorry matey...lol, its now spaced.
    Regards
    tankie
     
  5. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Cool Stories
     
  6. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    By all means, continue! :occasion5:
     
  7. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Excellent mate, thanks! :)
     
  8. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    great story john, do go on
     
  9. tankie1rtr

    tankie1rtr Member

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    Tankie's Romania trip part 2.

    Thanks for asking me to carry on with my story guys, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy sharing it with you.

    After my fright of the ghostly face looking down at me from a height of 12ft, I recovered and crept along at a speed behind him of about 1mph, I had no choice but to try to overtake with out scaring the donkey, i gave as much berth as I could and we got past him, I am sure the donkey was snoring, we approached Deg (pronounced Dej) as it was getting light and our contact was waiting for us, he showed us where to park the coaches, we parked up and then we were collected by our host families, well everybody else was, but me and Jeff had nobody, they had forgotten about the drivers, well we wernt bothered, the coach had a bunk, this was situated just down the centre stairs and access was gained by a little door facing the toilet, me and Jeff had to share this small space, so Jeff went in via the stairs door, and I got in by lifting up the side luggage door and squidged in beside him, tight squeeze but we slept like babies, we were shattered, we did not have to worry about thieves or vandals, as we had a police guard outside who was armed with the AK47, and we had bribed him with a packet of 9 Biro pens, and half a dozen bananas, he was as please as punch, he must have felt relaxed because I got up to go to the loo, and he was fast asleep in his car and his AK47 was sitting on the bonnet, I am sure that I could see faint purple rings around his eye's ??.

    we awoke some hours later, and decided to have some breakfast, although it was halfway through the day, I opened the side luggage door from the inside, and tumbled out onto the deck, I rubbed my eyes, flattened my hair that looked like a guardsmans busby, and took stock of my surroundings, the first thing that I saw when I sat up was 5 or 6 oldish guys sitting on upturned boxes, just staring and grinning at me, I am glad that Jeff didnt come out the same way, god knows what they would have thought, it turned out that the guys were Romanian coach drivers, and had never seen such a beautiful coach as ours, dont forget, this is like 20 years ago, and the eastern block countries didnt have such luxury, we invited them onto my coach and showed them from the front, the swivveling drivers seat that worked out your weight and let so much compressed air in and it would rise and fall to give you a comfortable ride, we showed them the video player and the £3,000 standard stereo radio and anouncement system, they were totaly shot away with awe, we then showed them the fridge, the hot drinks machine and he toilet complete with hot/cold water and a sink basin, plus a shower, they were like kids, and when we showed them the microwave, they nearly passed out, they all lined up and waited their turn just to sit in the drivers seat and push buttons, me and Jeff then broke out some Holland Meat potatoe pies and miked them up the micro wave and gave each one of them a pie and a cuppa, they looked at us with tears in their eyes and gave each of us a big hug,

    They proudly showed us their coaches, they were so proud of them, when we looked at them, both me and Jeff were very very humbled and we were the ones with tears in our eyes, and I still fill up now when I think of these wonderful guys, they opened the door of their coach and we got on board, first of all, he showed us how they close the front door, (we use a Red button to open the door, and a green button to close it) he got a brush handle that was bound with soft cloth, he sat in his drivers seat and with a big grin leaned over and pushed the door open with the broom handle, then to close it he pulled on a piece of rope that had been tied to the door, he then showed us his cooking microwave equivelant, from under his seat he pulled out a tatty kettle, a pan and a primus stove, and a couple of old battered knifes and a spoon, me and Jeff could just look at each other, he then showed us the computerised heating system, (Ours was all computerised) he showed us each seat had a tatty blanket, lastly he showed us his bunk, he opened the side locker, and there was a tatty old grey blanket and a coat laid on a piece of cardboard on the boot floor, that was his bed. all me and Jeff could do was give them a big hug, and we gave them a carrier bag filled with goodies, (contraception under the reign of Ceausescu was banned,) we gave them some packets of condoms from the medical supplies, and they though that was wonderful, one of the guys squoze 5 of his fingers into one, another of the guys put a banana in one, they had no bloody idea what they were, we didnt elaborate. later all the group met us and it was time to go to the orphange, we had plans to rebuild what we could, we had Electrician in the group, and a Plumber, and as I have said, Doctors and Nurses,

    When we got to the orphanage we were given a grand tour, as we entered the ground floor we smelled the dampness, we were taken into the lower floor rooms, here we had children from the age of about 4 yrs old, they were dressed in rags, they were kept clean the best that the staff could manage, but they had sores, and like blisters, they had a grey palour and red eyes, through the lack of food and vitamins, and do you know what, they came over for a hug, and they smiled, big beaming smiles, some of them would not see next year, they were so malnourished and poorly, yet they had love and smiles to give, we gave them some lucky bags that had been donated to us, they had never seen one before, it was like christmas, I wipe the tears from my eyes and stedied myself the best I could, we were taken upstairs to where the little ones were kept, they had cots and each cot held about 4 toddlers or babies, I noticed that the cream coloured paint was missing around the top rail and it was rusty, I asked the nurse and she showed me by mime that the children suck the top rail, they had sucked the paint off, thats why it was rusty, we came upon another cot and there was a toddler about 18 months old, and all it could do was rock from side to side, it had been doing that for the last 4 months, in the next room there were poorly babies that just lay in the cots, covered by tatty rags, all damp, one child looked up at me with big but very tired eyes, I asked what is the matter with him, and the nurse through the interpreter said just two words, "He's Dying" he was not there the next day.

    We learned that a lot of the children had aids, and had been left at the orphanage. we were allowed to wander round on our own, me and Jeff came upon a room and it was about 2ft deep in water, we were looking at what looked like a ships boiler, it was actually the washing machine, it had not been used for about two years, because no one would come and fix the water leak that had flooded the floor, that had reached the electrics and killed a worker. they had no washing facilities, we started that day, rebuilding the playground, we put new benches in the garden for the children to sit on but we had to big four deep holes and fill them with concrete, sit the legs of the benches into them or they would be stolen for the black market, we rubbed down and repainted metalwork for the swing frames, we were very busy, as it started getting dark, me and Jeff worked by the stand lamps fired up from the generator we provided, and the rest of the group worked inside the orphanage, mending windows, doors, and the like, the doctors checked out the children and helped them best they could. Whilst me and Jeff worked outside, we noticed that a couple of women lit a large bonfire of piled wood, I said to Jeff, thats nice they have lit it to keep us warm, when the fire had taken a good hold, some of the women came down and threw some bundles on he fire, we heard a funny sound like a sizzzzzz, we asked one of the women what it was and she just said "Baby" the sizzz was burning hair. both me and Jeff sat on the coach, each sobbing and with our own thoughts, how can a society live like this, how can politicians let this happen, here we were, one each of Britains finest, sobbing uncontrollably, I dont drink and drive, but that occasion, I downed a large whisky, all that was on my mind was Politicians, Fu*k them, (sorry guys,) I am still very upset and bitter.

    At the end of the week, we had to pack up and start the long drive home, we had rebuilt the playground, we had given Washing Machines, Blankets, Medicines, Rewired to make safe electrics, Plumbing, and done all that was possible. As we left, all the nurses lined up and gave us each a hug and a flower, thats all they had to give, but they had given us their hearts, the children crowded into the playground, that was the ones that could walk and were not to poorly, When we got back to London, we had letters of thanks from the Doctors and Nurses, we hugged all round, and then me and Jeff set off home in an empty quiet coach, we had both left some part of us in Romania, Even as I write this 20 yrs later, I still find that tears are running down my cheeks, I will be forever humbled at what happened in Romainia. till the day I die, I will never forget them poor proud people, who had nothing but gave what they had with a smile.......... If there are any of the people who were on that tour who recognise this story, please please contact me at [email protected] I would love to hear from you. Guys, I hope you enjoyed my Romania story, I will write some other stories if people want to hear them, both funny and moving, but I will list them under a new thread called Tankie Travells. so if you see it listed you will know what it is. Thank You. God Bless.
    tankie1rtr
    john
     
  10. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    amazing story john
     
  11. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I haven't read the story yet, but will do so tomorrow.... Just wanted to say that, please do keep sharing with us your stories!
     
  12. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Agreed with Lucky
     
  13. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Tankie, absolutely fantastic. I thought I was the Bard of the Forum but that story is aces! Please post more.

    My thoughts with you on politicians.
     
  14. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    :( :cry: Amazing story John! :salute:
     
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