After I left the Jeffery’s (and they promised not to fight with any trees again) I made a bee line for home. Because it had taken me a little longer than I expected pulling the Patrol down I was going to arrive back in town a little later too, my estimation as I left was arriving just after 7pm. There was no point driving faster, because even out here where there are no traffic lights the time gained from doing an extra twenty kilometres per hour can be lost by hitting something you could have avoided at the lower speed.
Not to blow my own trumpet, or remind you just how right I am, or how great my instincts are, or how good I can read the outback the exact situation happened to me on the way home. About 60ks out of Halls Creek heading south west down the Great Norther Highway I was doing about 70kph, the allowable speed is 110kph, it was coming on sunset and while the sun wasn’t directly in my eyes it was coming in the front of the truck and occasionally came in full blast as the road weaved and turned. As I crest one small rise with a sweeping right hand bend there was a herd of cows walking along the edges of the road scrounging for food.
Now there is no guarantee that at a higher speed those cows would have scattered onto the road in fright, just like there is no guarantee that they wouldn’t with me doing a lower speed but what the lower speed did mean is that I had time to react. When the cows bolted, as they so often do, two of them darted out onto the bitumen and into the path of the Beast, one just crossed the road but the second one turned and ran in the same direction as I was travelling. I would hesitate a guess that most people know cows can’t run at 70kph and therefore I had to slow down until the big dopey beast got out of the way of the Beast. At a higher speed not only would the risk have been higher but my reaction time would have had to be so much quicker, something which after a full day on road is not something anyone is capable no matter how good they are.
Ok so enough of the driving lessons, most of you expert city drivers think you know better anyway. So, I avoided the cows and had a leisurely drive back into Halls Creek, arriving a little closer to 7:30pm than I first anticipated. Instead of going straight home I decided to stop in and see Nick, usually I would just drive past the station and give him a blast on the air horn or call him on the radio but given I still had to talk to his supervisor I figured a personal call would be better.
I suppose one of those other perks of being out in the middle of nowhere and not abiding by every rule book was that dropping by the station at just about any time of the day would result in an audience with Nick. Unlike those city cops who went home at the end of the shift Nick was already at home and after hours he’d either be out the back in his ‘house’ or over at the pub, therefore very easy to find. It’s for that reason that I figured when I pulled up to the station at 7:23pm not only would I see Nick but I would see his supervisor Pete Hammet.
I walked into the station, the lights in the front room were still on indicting Nick hadn’t gone out the back for the night. “Hey Nick,” I said as I walked in through the door and saw him leaning on the counter.
“Hey Dean. How goes it? You obviously made good time.”
I told Nick about my trip out to rescue the Jerffery’s, he was suitably impressed at both their skills in parking the Patrol where they did and my skills in retrieving it, although let’s face it he shouldn’t have been so surprised in my skills given just how good I am! I also told Dean about the cows on the road, there was nothing much he could do about stray animals on the road but he could add the warning to the road bulletin for the sake of other travellers.
“So where is this boss of yours?” I asked.
“Supervisor, and it’s after knock off time, he’s over at the pub drinking, oops I mean having dinner.”
“Oh yeah the old liquid dinner on the tax payers dollar.” I replied.
“Don’t suppose you want to come back tomorrow and talk to him?”
“What if I get called out? He might get shitty if he doesn’t get to talk to me, or worse still I get him up at 3am before I leave.”
“Sounds like you have something planned.” Nick said questionably.
“Nah not at all. Just being lazy in case I don’t have to come out tomorrow. I said I’d be back tonight to see him and here I am, so he should be coming to see me!”
“You obviously don’t work on city cop time do you?”
“Nope I live in the real world!”
Nick picked up the desk phone and rang the pub, out here mobile phones aren’t always the first thing we grab for when it comes to making a call because even in town the signal can be hit and miss. The conversation on the phone didn’t last long, I heard Nick ask for Pete Hammet by name then there was a silence of a few minutes before he spoke again. When Pete came on the other end of the phone Nick told him I was waiting to talk to him, I couldn’t hear what Pete said but I did hear Nick telling him that I could get called out at any time and catching me in town might be the best option.
Five minutes later Pete Hammet was standing before me, a fairly big brute of a man, the king of guy you also see in police uniforms on TV when they want a cop that takes no shit. We talked for about twenty minutes about what happened during the capture of Thomas the fugitive, he never once asked me why Nick chose me, or whether I was armed, or whether Nick told me a city crew was coming up to help. He just asked the basics to confirm the minimum required details to stack them up against Nick’s story.
“If you can get me a list of expenses incurred before I leave, tomorrow or the next day, I’ll make sure they are paid. If you can’t just give it to Nick and he can pass it on to me.” Pete said after thanking me for my help and shaking my hand.
“No worries, glad I could help. I’ll organise the list ASAP.” I said knowing the likelihood of me getting it done in the following 24 hours was extremely slim.
“Would you like to come over to the pub for a beer?” Pete asked as he headed towards the door.
Previous Desert story here.