Remember I said that our last two days of travelling were going to be a lot easier than the previous days given that lack of towns we had to go through, the lack of times we had to slow down, and the lack of traffic? Well that was true but there was a few other things that made it a bit harder on both me and on the trucks.
To start with there was the heat. The thing about most big mining operations in this country is that they can’t be on suburbia’s door step. Firstly because of the greenies and environmentalists, if they can see a big hole in the ground they tear up and start screaming “equal rights for trees”. They jump up and down saying things like “progress is raping the earth” while using cars produced by fossil fuels, wearing clothes produced by fossil fuels and while living in world they refuse to admit relies on fossil fuels for so god damn much.
It’s these sorts of people, mostly living in suburbia, who get the guilts about where they live and see the need to dictate to others about how ‘green’ the world really should be who ruin it for everyone. It’s good that it makes them feel powerful and meaningful while they sip their choc-vanilla-strawberry-quinoa-baked beans-latte and eat blueberry muffins, and don’t get me wrong I agree we need to slow down our reliance on some things, but its these short sighted fruit cakes who cost real people jobs. So big holes have to be as far out of sight as possible which for this country means out in the dry, hot interior of the country.
These mining towns are often little more than life blood for the actual operation. In some places the operation gets big enough for a town to be built around it, shops, supermarkets, tourist attractions and that sort of thing while others have little more than the mine and a bunch of people living around it. But the biggest thing most of them have in common is the heat, all year round heat. Temperatures that reach into the thirties in winter and push towards fifty in summer. We may not have the hottest place on earth but let me tell you it gets fucking hot out there! And that heat takes it’s toll.
Humans are resilient buggers and we are capable of acclimatising to our environment. Different people take different time to do it but given long enough we all do it if we have to, no matter how stubborn we can be about it. Most of the time we didn’t spend enough time on location to acclimatise fully so we sweat it out for a few days and enjoy the air conditioning in the truck.
But we aren’t the biggest problem, the trucks were. Machinery doesn’t acclimatise it’s up to the operator to do recognise the environmental conditions and use the machinery accordingly. Manufactures are improving survival rates of their machinery in the heat and many use the harsh conditions of the Aussie outback as a testing ground but the operator still needs to be sensible and not ask too much of their machinery. For instance our trucks were capable of towing what we had on the back, and more, but in forty plus degrees it was sensible to watch the temperatures and not cook the engine, or on hills not cook the oil in the gear box. The hotter it got the more common sense and observation things needed. But we were professionals!
I also mentioned that things got harder on me too, now I’m not talking about the heat, that is kind of obvious, but like a normal person I just get on with my job and don’t bitch about it, I’m talking about a one of thing, specific to this job and the actions of this job. Something that had me laughing my arse off so hard I thought I might have a heart attack.
It was about ten minutes to ten, not quite two hours after we left and about thirty minutes before we’d be pulling over for morning tea, or little lunch as we often call it. If you’re still a bit backwards and don’t understand, we stop for coffee and a snack, it used to be called smoko but in this political correct world smoking is so taboo.
Anyway we were cruising down the highway at just over eighty clicks when my phone rang. Caller ID told me it was Henry.
“Hey boss, how’s things?” I asked after hitting the answer button on the phone which was sitting in it’s cradle.
“Just fucking dandy!” Henry replied.
Even on “Boss” time Henry would have had time to watch the videos we sent. “So you’ve watched the videos?”
“Yep. As soon as I’d watched them I sent them through to numbnuts and asked him to explain how the accident was in any way our fault.”
Lucky I didn’t make a joke about “Boss” time Henry had obviously been busy. “What was his response?”
“The idiot ignored me, then sent me an email of his own with copies of the invoices he claims we are responsible for.”
“Oh yeah?” I was already laughing. “So tell me what do we owe this guy?”
“Twenty five grand for the car!”
“What?” my laugher was increasing. “It was a shitty Commodore with dents in it.”
“It’s a collectors item, one of two hundred and fifty made for the 2000 Olympics.”
“And still only worth two grand.” I replied struggling to make the words come out.
“That’s not all. He’s also got medical bills in excess of four thousand.”
“Already? It hasn’t even been twenty four hours. How the hell did he rack up medical bills that high?”
“I’m willing to bet the bills are all forged. I’ve passed it all onto legal. I’m not dealing with this dickhead again. I’ll lose my cool and tell him to fuck off!”
“I don’t blame you.” It wasn’t like Henry would cop too much shit for using such language against the guy but I understood where he was coming from.
The conversation went on for about twenty minutes and honestly I nearly had to pull the truck over because I was laughing so damn hard. The worst bit was I knew there was going to be more to the story before it was over.
Previous Heavy Haulage here.