Culture

Five Questions About… the Lad Who Rammed a Digger Into a Travelodge

A comrade, we stan.
22 January 2019, 1:11pm
TRAVELODGE
Screenshots via Twitter

You ever lost your temper as an adult? Weird and rare and embarrassing when it happens, isn't it. As a toddler: sure, lose your temper all the time. Five, six times a day. Early childhood: maybe once a week, just completely blow your fuse. Get so angry you start crying. Stomping around and weeping. Two very conflicting messages, rage and tenderness, beaming out of your face at once. Throw a party ring of jelly at the floor while weeping. You slam a few doors as a teenager, sure.

Then, as an adult, you mainly keep your cap on. Once a year, maybe. Sometimes it’ll be a real hair-trigger thing – someone walking too slow in front of you and you just start roaring; someone undertakes you on a motorway and you follow them all the way to Carlisle to go off – and more or less it's over in an afternoon, defuses after a cup of tea or a wank. And then, sometimes, you get expressions of rage that are so elegant, so powerful, so artistic, they become transcendent. Those that make you wonder why you don’t blow your lid more often: if anger can be so beautiful, what stops us from expressing it more?

What I am saying is: watch this lad destroy a Travelodge with a mini-digger, a sort of modern day David-and-Goliath–style attack:

In case the tweet ever gets deleted for legal reasons, the context is this: "I was on that job an was supposed to get paid the Friday before Xmas, could have been skint for all they knew, never got my money until the 2nd week of January, only a matter of time before something like this happened."

From the BBC: "A furious builder ploughed a digger through the doors of a new Travelodge hotel and repeatedly smashed into the building amid a pay dispute. The driver mounted the steps of the Liverpool hotel and went on the rampage inside, sending debris flying as it crashed through the doors, reception desk and windows. Footage shows a bystander banging on the side of the cab, but the driver ignores pleas to stop. Merseyside Police is investigating."

From a screenshot of a WhatsApp group-chat my Scouse mate forwarded to me gleefully last night (I presume this incident is all the fine nation of Liverpool is talking about today): "Fucking mad laa wages r Only late from Friday not the point like but only a weekend, didn't even give it time to get resolved, just when pure nuts”.

Yes, he did go pure nuts, didn’t he. And it was ace. And it raises questions. Five questions. In this order:

INTERROGATING THE RELIABILITY OF THE STATEMENT, 'HE'S NOT ARSED, LAD'

Though there is a certain renaissance-level beauty to the destruction of the front of a Travelodge itself – Travelodges of course representative of a sort of anti-beauty, rigid red brick facades and purple carpeting and the smell of stale vacuuming in an itchy-sheeted room, sad wilted croissants at brunch – what really tips this video over the edge and makes it less a temper tantrum and more a work of art is the running commentary from the person behind the camera: the "FUCK OFF!" at 13 seconds, the first minor moment of impact; the claim that, "He's a sick man! He’s a sick man, mate", as a man – visibly sick – pounds a mini-digger through a disabled ramp; and then you have the repeated statement, "he's not arsed" and "he’s not arsed, mate!" To that, I would counter: I dunno, mate, he seems quite arsed.

Like: quick quiz. You’ve not been paid for work you did over Christmas. The money is overdue. This is not a new experience for you – this hypothetical business does this to you a lot. You’re sitting on the sofa checking your bank app on a Friday morning, and see that once again payroll hasn’t gone through. Internally, take a temperature check: you’re quite arsed, aren’t you? You’re mild-to-medium arsed about this. Which of these behaviours is the least arsed you can exhibit?

  • Say "fuck off" and throw your phone at another sofa
  • WhatsApp everyone else you work with to see if they haven’t been paid either
  • Become a union agitator
  • Attack the front of a Travelodge with a digger

If you answered "4. Attack the front of a Travelodge with a digger", then I’m sorry, you did fail this round. That is actually the most arsed thing you can do. In fact, I’d argue that – for the few key moments when our hero was attacking a Travelodge with a digger – he was, briefly, Britain’s Most Arsed Man. Repeatedly saying "he’s not arsed, mate" isn’t just lying, it’s disfiguring the truth in front of us.

WHICH IS THE BEST QUOTE FROM THIS BBC ACCOUNT OF THE TRAVELODGE ATTACK?

On days like this I am deeply thankful for the BBC’s completely straight tone, because taking quotes from bewildered Scousers who just watched a Travelodge get filled in by a digger and running them verbatim is truly the only way to report on stuff like this, which is why we have:

A witness, ceiling fixer Samuel White, 24, said the driver was involved in a pay dispute over £600 with contractors at the hotel, which is under construction.

Mr White said: "The handover was today. Everything completed, we'd put the last tile in, cleaned up and made sure everything was perfect.

"Then some idiot in a mini digger decided to drive through the middle of the building."

Mr White said the destruction went on for "a good 20 or 30 minutes" before the driver left the vehicle and ran off.
"There were loads of workers outside all gobsmacked, jaws to the floor wondering what's going on," said Mr White.

"The site manager was running around like a headless chicken, he wasn't happy at all."
BBC, January 22 2019

"The site manager was running around like a headless chicken" is a great line. "He wasn’t happy at all" is a phenomenal underselling of the whole emotional vista. But the best line? The best line from the BBC is this, stating the injuries suffered at the scene:

“They said one man was treated at the scene by North West Ambulance Service for irritation to his eyes caused by exposure to diesel.”

A man attacked a whole Travelodge with a digger and you hurt your eyes looking at the fumes coming off some diesel? Absolutely wet. Get out of the way if you’re that soft. Let the man dismantle his Travelodge in peace.

THIS IS A VERY PARTICULAR EXPRESSION OF ANGER, ISN’T IT?

There are few countries I can imagine this particular expression of disgruntlement happening in, and they are, all of them, in the United Kingdom (imagine how many shotgun-blasts-into-the-air yeehaws would accompany this sort of thing in America, for instance). And not even all of the United Kingdom: certain red-hot pockets of it, with Liverpool being chief among them, certain places where a magical anger runs mystical and deep beneath the concrete of it, certain ley lines and hot spots that criss-cross this country, There Are Only Certain Towns And Cities You Can Run A Digger Through A Travelodge In. We wouldn’t run a digger into a Travelodge in London, because we’re all too soft and too scared and too busy saying, "Cor, get on me Tube!" North of Watford, the air changes tangibly, a fraction greyer and thicker, and up there, hiring a digger and running it repeatedly into a Travelodge makes a sick kind of sense. It’s what makes Britain great.

HOW MUCH MONEY WOULD IT TAKE TO BE WITHHELD FROM YOU BEFORE YOU STARTED SMASHING UP A TRAVELODGE WITH A DIGGER?

To clarify: Travelodge should have paid the man the money he is owed, and smashing up the front of a Travelodge that owes you money for work done is a completely justified move. There are around 560 Travelodges in the UK, and in 2015 they posted profits of £66.2 million: there’s no world in which they can’t pay someone the wages they owe them. Companies should never run their supposed on-hand cash issues against the bank balance of a worker who needs to buy their groceries or pay their rent, ever.

But the alleged figure owed to this man is £600, and it was apparently only one two-day weekend overdue, and now I’m wondering how much money I’d need to be out of pocket before I put my keys in the digger. Is £600 low? No: £600 is not an insignificant amount of money, and should be respected as such. But personally, would your limit be a bit higher? Would you wait a week longer for your £600? Would you maybe wait for it to get to £1,000, or £2,000, before you attacked a Travelodge with a digger? I think I would, and that’s because I’m a fucking coward: companies should be attacked with diggers for routine late payments. They should be scared of us all in our diggers! You can ignore a phone call, you can defer an email: you can’t say no to a fucking digger, can you! To a fucking digger in your foyer!

Digger Lad should be the start of something close to a revolution: company fucks you over? Digger them. It’s as simple as that. We are all lashed to a wooden wheel that sees us in a thrall to corporations, exchanging hours of our lives and the toil of our labour for the least amount of money they will deign to pay us. We shouldn’t be scared of offending them by asking for that money in a timely manner. They should fear us. They should fear us and our army of building site machinery. Rise up, comrades! Fire up your diggers!

DID HE… HAVE TO… PAY TO HIRE A DIGGER?

Right: logistically, I do not know where I’d get a digger right now. Like, say it was an Apprentice task. Maybe there’s a building hire company a couple of zone-shells away from here. Maybe I could go to one of them and hire a digger. Can I handle a digger? No. I don’t have a driving license and I’ve never piloted a digger. Legally, they cannot give me a digger. Do you think there’s a deposit system involved? What if you return your digger with all bits of Travelodge on it? What if the digger takes aesthetic damage from crashing into a Travelodge repeatedly? What if the digger is impounded by the police? Listen: I respect the digger incident. But I do rather fear it ended up costing more than the wages that were originally owed.

I think there are certain things we can all learn from The Tale Of The Lad Who Crashed A Digger Into And Through A Branch of Travelodge, sort of like a fable: pay your workers, express your rage, never be afraid to back your ideals with hydraulics and metal. If you’re going to smash a Travelodge up with a digger, make sure a mate is around to film it. If you’re going to try to stop someone smashing up a Travelodge with a digger, don’t be allergic to diesel fumes before you try it. If you do not currently have access to a digger, start laying the groundwork so you have access to a digger, so the next time a company fucks you over, you can digger them. But, most importantly: don’t be afraid to be you. If you’re the kind of person who smashes up a Travelodge with a digger: cool. It’s Travelodge’s fault for fucking over a person like you in the first place.

If you’d like to contribute to Digger Lad's semi-inevitable legal fees, the GoFundMe is here.

@joelgolby