Sam and Zakk bid me farewell after dinner, they did come out and Zakk got one last look at the truck with the large 155 tonne substation on the back but he didn’t feel the need to tell us it was big again. Thank fuck for that!
Sam hated seeing me drive off, for some reason kissing her goodbye and leaving from the house wasn’t too bad, even if I was going for a few days, but watching the truck pull out the yard was always hard on her. To be fair I understand her concern, being on the road these days can be dangerous however because I’m escorted so many places I’m probably one of the most protected drivers on the road. Fuck knows how she’d handle it if I drove road trains or did permanent night shift driving rigs. But bless her cute little soul for worrying, she a great woman…even when she’s thumping me in the arm for someone elses swearing.
Ironically enough if Sam and Zakk did hang around to see me off they wouldn’t have to wave goodbye and watch me drive off into the sunset. No they could walk beside the truck and say good bye as we went out the gate because until we got this load out the front gate we wouldn’t be going much faster than walking pace, even when we got on the road we’d barely be doing twenty kilometres an hour for the few blocks. In actual fact Sam and Zakk leaving before we got the trucks out onto the road was good for them because if they didn’t they’d be stuck behind us for the first four kilometres since we’d both be travelling in the same direction for that far.
Although saying good bye to Sam isn’t something I like doing either it was for a different reason to her. I wasn’t worried about being on the road I would have just preferred to stay home with her and Zakk, but who is going to pay me to do that. As much as saying good bye was as difficult as ever when I bent over and kissed her on the lips, a big sloppy smooch mind you, it wasn’t sorrow that got me it was laughter.
The instant we broke the kiss she looked me in the eyes and whispered. “Make sure you get that fucking big thing there in one piece, and yourself home in a the same state!”
Now she didn’t swear often, but when she did it made me laugh, it didn’t matter what the words were it just made me laugh. Which was ok in situations like saying goodbye, but not so good when she was yelling at, I mean talking to Zakk when he pushed her too far, or yelling at me for laughing at her swearing at Zakk.
She got an extra kiss for that.
A few minutes after Zakk and Sam drove out the gate we had ourselves a quick meeting around the trucks. Now might be a good time to introduce to you to the immediate team.
There is me, Matt, in the lead truck.
Corey, or Apple as he might get referred to occasionally in the rear truck.
Pete, Stan, Angus and Phil in the lead pilot.
Jimmy, Danny, Trey and Millie in the rear pilot.
Over the trip I’ll probably revert to the usual nick names that they all have as a force of habit but I’ll try my best to not confuse you too much when that happens.
We went through all the final checks we needed to do. We didn’t need to do a tyre check like you sometimes see drivers do in the movies with a steel bar or large spanner, the entire trailer and the tractors all had one board tyre pressure monitoring. We also didn’t need to check chains and tie down points, they’d already been checked a dozen times by multiple people over the last two hours. The main things were checking was things like warning beacons, warning flags, signage and running lights, they’d been checked but it’s strange what gets missed sometimes, even with an experienced crew.
Because we also needed a police escort to get the massive load out of the suburbs we also triple checked that every permit we needed was in the lead pilot truck. It wasn’t a case of the Cops or Roads Corporation pulling us over simply because they like picking on trucks, in fact the chances of them puling us over was extremely slim. But if something was to happen, a bridge clipped, a traffic light knocked over anything like that and we didn’t have the permits that instantly proved we were permitted to be at that point at that time, things could get difficult.
Because we’d be moving so slowly until we got out on the open road and because there was so many obstacles and things that could slow us down the two pilot utes would only have drivers in them when we left the yard, the rest of the team would be walking. Each walker would have themselves a hand held CB radio and their jobs would be to keep an eye on every extremity of the load. In daylight it’s impossible to see every part of a load so large in the mirrors and as you can imagine that doesn’t get any better in the darkness.
As you can probably also imagine radio chatter is kept at a minimum at all times, even on the open road, in case someone does need to get heard with something important, in the city minimum chatter is paramount. We do use open channel CB radios to hear road chatter, and all the bored fuckwits with nothing better to do than hurl abuse. However all but the lead pilot vehicle usually turn those open channel units off and we rely on a closed channel system whilst traversing the city so as not to be interrupted. Trust me there is nothing worse than trying to negotiate a massive load under a bridge with only millimetres to spare and all you can hear on the radio is some nuggethead squawking through the radio about how big his dick is and what he’d like to do with it.
Because I had my seat in the big Volvo I let the other guys decided who’d be walking and who’d be driving, they were a good team and I knew I could trust them to do their jobs. The one thing that was certain before the end of the long night was that the four guys who started out walking wouldn’t be the only ones on foot over the entire run. Going by past experience even I’d be getting out of the truck multiple times to make sure potential problems didn’t become real problems.
As an outsider you could be excused for thinking all this preparation and effort was really dragging on but from our position where we knew every step was essential things moved pretty quickly and when I got in the driver’s seat of my truck I actually took a second to take a few deep breaths.
The final thing myself and Corey had to before we took off was fill in out log books. I wont go into details about such a mundane task but trust me when you can get fined up to $400 for something as silly as a spelling mistake filling out ones log book is something we do take seriously.
Log book done and stuffed back into my bag which was on the floor beside the seat I reached forward and kicked the ol’ girl in the guts!
Previous Heavy Haulage episodes here.