driving, events, humor, serial fiction, Stories, truck, writing

Heavy Haulage: Starting Out

“Fuck that’s big!”

My wife, Sam, looked across at me with a dirty look as if the words came out of my mouth. When she got no response from me she immediately turned to our twelve year old son Zakk.

“Zakk!” Sam’s voice expressed anger not surprise.

She then looked back at me waiting for me to say something, however the problem was I couldn’t disagree with him, it was big.

We were standing in front a 155 tonne power sub station, a self contained, climate controlled fibreglass structure built for an extremely remote mining town 200 kilometres north west of Broken Hill, so far out from anything else the place didn’t actually have a name, it was known only by the mining company who held the rights to mine there.

The sub station was sitting on a 7×8 steerable widening low loader with a four metre dolly. What does that mean? The 155 tonne box was sitting on a low loader trailer which was sixty feet long, had seven steerable axles and each one of those axles had eight tyres on it. The trailer could also be widened from 3.2 metres to 4.8 metres, it was currently set at 4.8 and the load still over hung each side by a metre, exactly. The entire trailer from the loading ramps at the rear to the tyre pressures to the self steering of each axle could be controlled by the trailer’s own hydraulic motor and operated by remote control. The four metre dolly allows the unit to carry extra weight and connects between the tractor and the trailer.

Connected to the front of the trailer was a dark blue, with light blue wavy lines highlighted in iridescent blue and white, Volvo FH16 prime mover. The near new tractor had been optioned with the largest motor available in Australia, the 700 horsepower sixteen litre diesel. It had also been optioned for heavy haulage with the dirt road kit and the manual fourteen speed transmission with ultra low crawler gears. Whilst for creature comforts there was an extra large Globetrotter sleeper cab and an entertainment system that would put many houses to shame.

So as you can see when Zakk stepped out the door to the yard and saw the truck and load sitting there his first response wasn’t that far from the truth. “Fuck it’s BIG.” explained everything to a tee. Not only was the rig big it was going to get bigger, well at least longer when the second Volvo, with an almost identical configuration, was connected to the rear end to help push the load along. Included in the convoy would also be two pilot vehicles, both Ford F250 dual cab utes, with flashing lights, warning signs and all manner of tools and spare parts.

Although our son was in awe of what he was seeing I wasn’t quite in the same frame of mind because I parked the truck there last night. That’s not to say I was blaise about what was before us but as a heavy haulage driver with more than twenty years experience I didn’t get awestruck. Instead I spent my time making sure every permit was organised, every chain was secure and everything was in place for a safe and damage free trip from our yard to the customer’s site because it was my job to get it there.

“Aren’t you going to say something?” Sam asked me.

“Well,” I started, “he has got a point, it is fucking big!”

I side stepped away from my wife’s swinging right arm which was on a collision course with my left arm, I couldn’t have her injuring my gear changing arm before heading out on what would be a six day journey. Honestly, I know Sam had a point Zakk probably shouldn’t have been swearing, especially not in public, and I know I probably should be a little less blaise about his swearing but with kids swearing in primary school these days I really doubt his occasional use of the word fuck was entirely my fault. Besides, he knew where and how to use it in context so it’s not like the poor kid was just dropping it because it sounded like a good word to say.

After twenty years of marriage Sam had long ago given up telling me off for my swearing and I do honestly try to curb it while I am at home but sometimes it just slips out, so it’s not really any wonder that Zakk does it occasionally but he is too young for her to not say anything when he drops the clangers. In company Sam has been known to make excuses for my swearing with comments like, “Well, you know he is a truck driver and sometimes he swears…like a truck driver!” and I guess that pretty much sums it up. Even with that in mind I still couldn’t tell Zakk off, besides the moment had passed and any punishment from me would feel wrong. Wouldn’t it?

Anyway who cares if Zakk swore there was a fucking big sub station sitting on the back of my truck!

As I said I’ve been doing this job for more than twenty years, longer than I’d been married to the beautiful woman standing beside me. All five feet ten inches of her with her short black hair with distinguishing sliver streaks and those sweet brown eyes looking at me through those stylish rectangular glasses. (And that’s not kissing up to her because of Zakk’s swearing, it’s true facts!).

Anyway I’d been doing this job for a long time and while every job is different there is plenty of similarities no matter what is sitting on that trailer. We have restrictions with where and when we can drive depending on the dimensions of the load, in some areas we are only allowed to drive between 8pm and 5am, while in other areas we have to be off the road before 8pm. We have speed restrictions, we have load limit restrictions and we have driver restrictions, many of which vary from state to state and all which dictate how we can get from point A to point B and why it can take us five days to travel 1000 kilometres and a day to get home.

It was because of how long I’d be on the road that Sam and Zakk were at the yard with me, rather than leave my car in the yard for a week Sam was dropping me off and taking the car home. Zakk was really just along for the ride, and to get me in trouble with Sam when he dropped his clangers. He of course asked if he could come along on the trip, as he does quite often, but because he had school his polite offer of company was declined.

I did once last year take Zakk on a short haul run during the school holidays, it was a single pilot load of only 90 tonne, and all he did was three days was ask me if he could drive the truck. That’s right at eleven years old all he wanted from life was to drive and oversized truck with a 90 tonne mining tip truck on the back. Not that I’ll ever tell Zakk what career path he should choose but I have suggested to him on many occasions when he’s expressed a desire to follow his dad’s footsteps that there are less stressful and easier jobs in this world than being a steering wheel attendant of a vehicle that can often not reach more than ten kilometres per hour.

Still it was really nice of him and Sam to come and see me off and because I had a bit of time before we were due to leave I decided to order some dinner. There was a great little Chinese restaurant down the road from the yard which delivered and the three of us could happily sit in the conference room of the office and eat quietly.

To be continued.

*Authors note*

The above, and any subsequent additions to this story, are work of fiction. While many real world facts are used I will be taking certain liberties in some areas. Place names may or may not exist, the topography in listed areas may not be correct and the distances will not be accurately based on anything. There will also be some deliberate inaccuracies in things like regulations and how those regulations are upheld, partly because I can’t be bothered keeping up with every rule but mainly because regulations aren’t always entertaining!

The spoken word may also be a bit more colourful than some expect from my writing because lets face it truck drivers swear and a story about truck drivers without swearing would just seem wrong. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re offended by the word FUCK, or worse, fuck off now and stop fucking reading!

2 Comments

  1. Damn you write well. Looking forward to this story. : )

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