“Phew, only another thirty seven kilometres to go.” I thought to myself as Corey’s big Volvo FH16 pulled into a straight line behind myself and the 155 tonne power sub station sitting on my back. It wasn’t really much of a relief because in forty five minutes we’d only travelled a single kilometre, even without doing the maths you can work out that if we maintained that sort of speed we wouldn’t make our destination before the 5am curfew.
You might be wondering what would happen if we missed our curfew. It’s a fair question too, after all if we were still on suburban feeder roads we can’t just stop and park such a large load.
First and foremost what happens is we begin to get a bunch of impatient drivers on our tail honking and yelling obscenities at us for not allowing them to rush off to work. They don’t care that we’re tired and have been at work all night, they just want to get themselves into their concrete boxes and pretend their job has more importance than the person at the desk next to them.
Secondly we start getting fined, and they are bloody big fines too. Despite having little other options than to keep moving and hold up traffic we get fined for doing our job. Consider that next time you are late for work, not only do you get fined thousands of dollars for not being at your desk at 9am but you get fined on and off for the rest of the day because everything else you do is later than it should be. Oh yeah that’s right, we held you up on the way to work, it’s our fault, the evil scourge of the road that is truck drivers!
On top of all that, and maybe this happens first in most cases, we start getting tired and worn out. For most us by 5am we’ve been up more than more than fourteen hours, by 6am or 7am when you’ve just woken up in your warm bed and shuffled your arse out the door to work, it’s even longer. Added to that the our day doesn’t stop just because the wheels have, once we park the load up we can still spend up to two hours making everything secure and safe where the load is stopped.
Still it could be worse, I could have an office job!
As specifically stated in our permits three lanes of Williams Street were ours to use, there was a steady stream of traffic using the lane coming towards us but with all the flashing lights and temporary bollards up it would have taken a real moron not to see us coming.
Although we still had a few corners to negotiate before we were able to park up I was confident we would make our curfew because on the straight and easy sections of the trip, like Williams Street, we could really fly, we could get the convoy up to about forty kilometres an hour. But those sort of break neck speeds were nothing compared to what we’d get up to on the freeway for the last leg of our thirty eight kilometre journey. On the freeway with our pilots keeping the road clear we could easily do sixty kilometres and hour, the pity was that the freeway leg of the journey was only nine kilometres of our trip.
About four kilometres down Williams Street things were cruising along smoothly, we still had about a kilometre until our next hurdle which was a right turn into another suburban feeder road. That feeder road, Sanders Street, was only two lanes wide and would require the police to completely shut down to give us a clear run. However that wasn’t my concern at that time I had something else on my plate, actually it wasn’t so much on my plate as on my truck.
Because of our speed increase our walkers had of course all hitched rides in their respective pilot vehicles and things were progressing nicely. Each intersection we crossed the police had closed off nicely, there was no power lines in our way and the road was wide enough for us not to worry about overhanging trees or signs. However it was as we crossed the intersection of Williams Street and Masters Road that the excitement happened.
Although under the conditions of a closed intersection not long back we had that fucking moron drift his car around the police cars the same couldn’t happen at other intersections along Williams Street. The side roads were smaller and the police were able to effectively stop all traffic with two cars in each direction. However stopping vehicular traffic was not the only problem.
About forty metres before my front wheel crossed the stop line of the intersection from out of nowhere came this stupid fucking wingnut on foot wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Because he was outside my range of vision I didn’t see him coming but Corey saw him and immediately called over the radio that someone was running towards the trailer. I give the police full credit in this situation, although we had no choice but to pull the convoy up, the police were onto the case as soon as they saw the wingnut bolt.
Even from a speed of forty kilometres per hour stopping such a heavy load wasn’t a case of just slamming on the brakes, for one air brakes have a response time of a few seconds, secondly it’s bloody hard pulling up such a big load and the last thing we want to do it damage brakes, tyres or the load itself. Needless say we stopped it as quickly and safely as we can but we didn’t stop on a dime.
I couldn’t see everything that was happening from my mirrors but in the time it took for us to come to a complete halt the t-shirt clad wingnut but had climbed aboard the moving trailer. With the calls across the radio and common sense, the police knew we were pulling the load up and none of them were prepared to risk jumping on a moving truck like the wingnut did. Common sense also told those police that once the truck was stopped wingnut had no where to run so there was no point jumping on the truck.
By the time I was out of the truck and walking towards wingnut he had unrolled what appeared to be a bed sheet with writing on it. The police were calling for him to step down but the wingnut had a message he wanted no one to see.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t care that people protest, I don’t care that greenies want to tie themselves to trees, I don’t even care that environmentalists protest the chopping down of trees by using paper banners saying “Don’t cut down trees.” But when those protests interfere with other people’s work they can fuck off and leave me alone! Oops did I just make it about me? Too bad.
So here was our wingnut with the bed sheet he’d stolen on his parents bed standing on the back of our truck protesting the use of coal to make power. I’m not sure if it had escaped this wingnut’s mind but the fact that it was a lone protest and the only people to see his message was a handful of police and truck drivers whose main goal was to deliver a power sub station and not where the power for that sub station came from but it didn’t escape out minds. If we weren’t trying to make our deadline, because even if we are delayed by wingnuts we still get fined, we’d probably have been laughing.
The entire solo protest lasted about three and a half minutes, before the wingnut realised the error of his ways and was being taken off into police custody. I hope his three minutes of no fame in front of no tv cameras was worth it because we wouldn’t see him again.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.