This is Ridiculous!

Journal: 029

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Spud’s Restaurant, Pimba SA

When I moved back to live in Western Australia in 2002 the main reason was … well the main reason was that Millie had already moved back, bringing with her Gee who had had a rough year after dropping out of uni … but the other main reason was that WA had no driving hours laws, no policemen pulling you up every day seeking out faults in your log book. Of course I made a nonsense of that rationale by promptly getting a job with Sam and Dragan and running backwards and forwards between Perth and north Queensland for a year, racing the two-up teams by dodging around cameras, cheating on my log book and skimping on sleep, until one of Dragan’s mates, a young Serbian “experienced” on the Belgrade – Berlin run, foisted on me for a hot-shot to Darwin, rolled us over on the first night out.

I hitched a lift with a lady Aboriginal magistrate to where Millie was living and working in Newman and after a short holiday there got into bulk cartage – no ropes or chains! – within WA. Eventually driving hours were regulated, but they were never onerously enforced, and were/are easy to live with – 15 hours/day up to 168 hours a fortnight, with mandatory 7 hour breaks each night and two 24 hour breaks every two weeks. At the height of the mining boom, with good hourly rates including for breaks, we were making as much as members of parliament, though without the ‘electoral allowances’.

Eastern states driving hours were for years 12 hours driving, 12 hours breaks per day, not much fun when you’re a long way from home and getting paid by the kilometre, but they are now, under the recent National Heavy Vehicle (NHVR) scheme a bit better at 14 hours per day, minimum 7 hours break each night and one day off each week, though with cameras now in SA as well as NSW – cheating not possible!. For most of last year, back again with Sam and Dragan, I was running to Brisbane or Sydney, sitting for a couple of days and then off back home for a couple of more days off, one round trip a fortnight, regular as clockwork. But since November I have been running mostly Perth Melbourne which round trip is theoretically do-able before a 24 hour break is due but which despite frequently involving side trips to Albury, Canberra and Sydney  I seem to be more and more often doing every week and a half, so 5,500 kms a week instead of 4,000, and 60 hours a week and days of loading/unloading instead of 45 .

I want to get off!

Last trip was typical – I left Perth on Friday, dropped a car in Adelaide on Sunday night, delivered to Dandenong – as far across Melbourne as you can get – on Monday. Ran my trailers up to a mine near Bendigo, was meant to be home mid Thursday but was at the last minute given a side delivery to Roxby Downs (in north central South Australia) so had to convert my morning with B3 into a 24 hour break, did the Roxby Downs, was sent back to Adelaide to fill the empty space on my back trailer, got home and unloaded yesterday (Sat) morning on what was to be my last trip – a year to the day since I started – before I bought my own trailers, to find my name on a manifest to Roxby Downs and Rozelle (!!!! Darling Harbour, central Sydney !!!) due out lunchtime today.

I have a review to write – Gerald Murnane’s A Million Windows which I am getting to the stage of barely remembering; I am writing thousand word essays (seriously!) for my NHVR accreditation, far more rigorous than the joke M.Bus in Logistics I did at RMIT; I have the accounts for quarterly company tax due and am at the deadline for last year’s personal tax; I have family to see, bills to pay. In three hours I have a meeting scheduled with Sam and Dragan. We will finalize which trailers I am buying and, maybe, how much I will be paid (they pay ok but it’s like pulling teeth). We will finalize that I DO NOT DO SYDNEY.

After that I am hopeful of settling back to one trip a fortnight and as they say a better work life balance. I bloody hope so anyway.

 

Recent audiobooks (though it’s a couple of weeks since I brought this list up to date)

Philippa Gregory (F, Eng), The Other Queen (2008)
Michael Kataki (M, USA), Ernest Hemingway: Artifacts from a Life (2018)
Michael Arntfield (M, USA), Mad City (2017) True Crime, Too long!
Teresa Driscoll (F, USA), The Friend (2018)
Dashiell Hammett (M, USA), The Maltese Falcon (1930)
Sue Grafton (F, USA), X (2015)
Ann Granger (F, Eng), Keeping Bad Company (1997)

I have started at a new library, my fourth, as I wear out their collections. This one, Cockburn seems to have some excellent SF and old classics. I have also downloaded some books from LibriVox – in particular The Vicar of Wakefield.

Currently reading

Elizabeth Jolley, The Georges’ Wife (1993)
Gerald Murnane, A Million Windows
Thea Astley, Collected Stories

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35 thoughts on “This is Ridiculous!

  1. I have been noticing that your posts have become much rarer recently – and have been missing them. Put your foot down Bill. You aren’t as young as you were in 2002, and you should NOT be working 60 hour weeks! No-one should, but particularly not someone of your advanced years! Haha! Seriously though, you want to have many more years and working at this rate may not ensure that. You know that saying, that no-one ever said on their death-bed, ‘I wish I’d worked more’! Of course, you have to have enough to live on but it is a balance. End of lecture…

    Do report how you go with your new negotiations.

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    • Lecture accepted in the spirit it was offered. I can only say I enjoy working but blogging has proved unexpectedly important to me and I must make adjustments to fit it in. BTW our meeting was unilaterally postponed, and not by me.

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    • Drivers talk incessantly about driving hours, I’m just fortunate to have an audience that hasn’t heard it all before. And you must remind me about this post when, some time in the next year no doubt, I complain of not getting enough work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very tiring! I am hoping to cut down on work for the summer, I have to say. Too much last year and I can’t keep madly working to make money before Brexit just in case, when Brexit keeps moving!

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    • Brexit is weird. The government (executive) has never taken control of the process and parliament seems to have realised it’s own power only at 5 past midnight. I hope the economic consequences are not too horrendous.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have no idea – I posted on my work blog a conversation I had with our tax people about whether self-employed people will start being taxed at source and have to do paperwork when working with EU countries and they DO NOT KNOW. So I’ve worked like crazy, built up a reserve, and now I’m going to ignore it, while challenging the opposition and racism that is on the uprise as people feel they can express it.

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  3. This does sound ridiculous, Bill. But I do like hearing about the inner workings of what it’s like to be a trucker. I’m always curious about what people do for a living, not just the catch-all job title, but the itty bitty details of what they actually do. Anyway, hope you find a better work-life balance soon!

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    • You have made me think, driving along, about jobs that you see the nuts and bolts of in fiction – farming and policing of course, medicine, teaching (often the first occupation of writers). Put out More Flags is very good on the bureaucracy of soldiering and Joseph Heller’s Something Happened is great on modern management – but that’s about it, lots of professions almost invisible. Maybe the excellent blogger who gives us Monday Musings can do one about jobs in Oz Lit.

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      • It’s the journalist in me; I’m always curious about people and what they actually do when they go to work. I used to love reading “my week” in lots of the B2B titles I used to freelance sub-edit. Even the mundane things like “10am Monday spent three hours responding to emails” I found fascinating.

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  4. Knowing that people area cheating on their log books and running all sorts of wicked hours scares me. I’ve had many truckers nearly run me off the road for their impatience, but I also have a father who was at trucker. I see both sides of things, but have no answers and feel nervous all around.

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  5. I knew you were a trucker (is that what you call it there?), but wow, reading about your hours and travels is exhausting. The only thing I would like about trucking is listening to the audio books!
    We have a few truckers come to the library to take out audio books for their travels, and have a hard time finding new ones they want. You must go through them like crazy!

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  6. Oh, Bill…so many comments about your exhausting job
    …I am as amazed as the others are about your stamina to keep on truckin’.
    So I took some time today after lunch to listen to Chris Rea
    …and I thinking of you!

    ps 5 books a week…impressive!

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