Pull Up Moron!! And other bedtime stories

By: Scotty Douglas


What is it about the job that gets us so riled? Why are we so impatient? Why do we turn on each other to the detriment of us all? In a moment of self-reflection, Scotty Douglas has a vision of a better industry

Pull Up Moron!! And other bedtime stories
Scotty ponders why there is so much anger in the industry.

 

Since when did we all get so bloody agro?! Do we really all have anger management issues??

I was wondering about this one morning after pushing through the night to make a slot at a DC. I took my legal breaks but kept an eye on camera times, and also an eye on the runoffs downhills, there wasn’t much in it but I was still having a crack all the same.

By the time I rolled in the gate I felt like I’d been riding it like a stagecoach all night to make the time slot after being dicked around while loading.

I wandered into the DC office, rubbing my eyes and yawning, and found myself confronted by more reinforced glass than you’d find in the average bank. The glass had some holes drilled in it to speak through and there was a paperwork slot at the bottom.

There was a guy wearing hi-vis sitting at a computer on the other side, staring intently at his computer screen. I said G’day feeling quite chuffed with myself for getting in on time. He glanced at me and grunted before getting lost in cyberspace again.

I stood there like a shag on a rock for God-knows-how-long while in the background there was just the infernal "tap…..tap……tappity tap….click" of the keyboard and mouse.

I could hear my pulse thudding in my temples; I tried very hard to visualise a happy place that didn’t involve dismemberment with a screwdriver "…calm blue ocean……calm blue ocean……calm blue ocean."

After a few minutes of silence I finally understood why there was armoured glass between the office and the driver’s area. Rude bastard.

Numbnuts finally deigned to give me a dock number before dismissing me with a click of a mouse. Of course if I had of said something about his behavior I may have been sitting in a queue all day. So I just had to suck it up and get on with it.  

What does that say about the transport industry in this day and age? We have to be segregated from other workers because we’re a bit cranky? What is it about the job that gets us so riled?

For example, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve caught up to another truck on a divided road like the Hume Highway and been left hanging in the right lane like a dick.

I may have new drive tyres and a light load, the truck I’m overtaking may have worn drives and a heavy load, there may be only 1km/h difference maybe 2. But on the up and downs with a bit of roll you catch up and step out. And old mate just leaves you hanging.

How hard is it to lift the foot for a few seconds and let another truck around? If I caught you I’ll pull away from you.

So that leaves me cursing in the right lane with a choice to either hit the brakes and stare at the back doors of a B trailer for an hour or so until there’s a decent climb. Or I can take half an hour to pass them with a kilometre of traffic behind me with nowhere to go.

The UHF is useless because it’s filled with morons. Anyway, even if you do get an answer it’s likely to be abusive. Most likely it will be an invitation to stop at the next parking bay and settle things the old fashioned way; "Pull up C**T!!!"

What is it about the job that makes us want to smack each other in the chops because one truck is .08 of a kilometre faster than another? It really is nuts.

The answer is that we’re sick of being taken for granted and treated like second class citizens.

It’s borne of frustration. But really as far as those that hold the reins of our industry are concerned, it’s preferable for us to be threatening to smack each other around for perceived slights than uniting and standing up ourselves.  

The RSRT was a perfect example of divide and conquer and we were played like a piano.

Employee driver against owner-driver. Big companies against the battlers.

What better way to stop an industry sticking together and stand up for itself?

And boy did we turn on each other.

French truck drivers will block a highway to get better conditions for schoolteachers and vice-versa. Some Asian countries have had to bring in the army to get freight moving off the docks while the trucking industry strikes for better conditions.

Unfortunately the mishandling and demise of the RSRT shut down any debate whatsoever on industry reform for all of those behind the wheel. And now the funds are being redirected to more cameras and more enforcement. Yay.

The age-old call for a strike or a blockade keeps coming up, "Just like the good old days" they say… "Just like Razorback."

But the industry won’t stick together because these days everyone has a different agenda.

There is no common cause other than, "This sucks and I’m angry."

We’d like to think that the prospect of empty supermarket shelves will scare the government into action. Spur on a serious debate on the conditions that truck drivers endure on a daily basis.

It won’t, because deliveries will still be made by people that have no stake in the argument.

The best thing that employee drivers and owner-drivers alike could do to force change would be to work to the law. I’m talking about every last bit of work that doesn’t usually go in the book. The loading and the unloading, the waiting in the queue. Dipping the oil, kicking the tyres and fastening the curtains.

When you’re told to be somewhere to pick up a load but you’re still standing around in a depot waiting 2 hours later. You’re there, you’re at work and you’re on the clock.

You wouldn’t make it from Melbourne to Sydney within your hours let alone anywhere else. Even on BFM! And no one can refuse to pay you for doing a job legally and safely.

Only then will the powers that be and the general public understand just how much we do. If we went on strike the media could whip into a frenzy about unreasonable militant drivers striking for more money or outrageous conditions.

The unions would also wade into the debate to pad out their own fat cat agenda. But, if you work to the letter of the law what could anyone say?

No one can demand you go back to work because you are already there. You are just working to follow the legal regime that you are required to follow.

I can see the headlines now "Truck Drivers agree to obey law nationally; fuel and food shortages expected to bite within a week." Now wouldn’t that be a catalyst for change?

Maybe there’s more power to be had in upholding the law rather than bending the rules to get the job done. 

 

 

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