Years ago, when Milly and I were young, and I’d gone broke as a truckie for the first time, we, despite already having one child and another on the way, bought a brand new Holden one tonne ute (it wasn’t till a third child came along that I gave in to common sense and bought a car with a back seat). Our first venture was a milk round.
Each night around 10pm I’d load up with crates of milk and drive up and down the streets of Booragoon, a reasonably posh riverside suburb, stop, dash between trees connected by wolf-spider webs, grab the empties from a step or milk box – always home to redbacks – replace them with the right number of bottles, and as I went, tossing the messages and monies left out by our grateful and trusting customers into a bucket to be dealt with in the morning.
Sometimes Milly, advanced pregnancy notwithstanding would be my runner, and sometimes I would employ Bruce, the boyfriend of Milly’s mother’s neighbour’s youngest daughter. Two or three years later I employed the neighbour’s son in a much steadier job at the transport depot where I was manager; and just recently he started going out with Milly’s sister, the little Diva, whom of course he has known since childhood.
The morning Lou was born he had to be transferred from the women’s hospital to the children’s hospital, who, having nowhere else, put Milly up in the flat for mothers down from the country. The next day I came in my old shorts and bare feet, plonked down on Milly’s bed with the aforementioned bucket, and got her to help me count the receipts. The nurses thought we were Beverly Hillbillies. (Lou required a number of hospitalizations, but survived them all).
Once I had the ute and an income, I began building up during the day a commercial travellers round in trucking products and so it came to pass that I ended up as WA distributor for Truckin’ Life magazine, now sadly defunct, but whose slogan as you might guess was That’s my truckin’ life. Which is my starting point for today’s tale of woe.
Two weeks ago today, you’ll recall we had just got into Darwin from an outback station, whose manager wanted me to load up later in the week and head back out with another load of fencing products. The engine felt like it was down on power and an error message was flashing up saying ‘check with workshop’. So the following morning I dropped my trailers at the BP and took the truck into the local Volvo dealer. Who had a fourteen day waiting list.
I got a taxi to Psyche’s and over the next few days we did various seeing doctors and drinking with Lou things, until I, not hearing from the workshop went back to twist a few arms, not to any great effect, though we did decide that rather than fly in a whole heap of new parts in the hope that one of them would fix the problem, we would, sometime during the next week, methodically do tests and swap things around to arrive at a proper diagnosis. This took till the following Wednesday, when we discovered my valves were stuffed – I’d need a new head; one of the six injectors needed replacing (but not the $8,000 ecu which controls them); and seeing as the engine was in bits anyway, I might as well get new this and that, including a new turbo (which is a bit of a relief as they are inclined, as they age, to fly apart without warning).
But. A new head would have to come from Adelaide and would probably take a week to arrive, so let’s say next Friday, and then a week to put it all back together, so that’s October gone.
Psyche has friends to do the carer thing, so I decided to fly home. Which leads us to the next ‘but’. Darwin-Perth direct is so expensive ($1,200-1,400) that it is cheaper to fly via Sydney or Melbourne, which explains why the fine print for some of the cheaper flights says ‘2 stopovers, 16 hours’. I constructed my own dog-leg with Virgin, flew to Melbourne, had a two day layover while I visited mum and did some book shopping, then flew home this morning (Tue), saving a couple of hundred dollars in the process.
If you’ve been keeping up, you will now have in your head that I have in rapid succession purchased a new trailer, so there’s several tens of thousands of dollars; begun an engine rebuild, a second several tens of thousands of dollars; and done one trip in two months – yes, several tens etc. more. Things are going to be a bit tight for a while!
I forget what I listened to on the way up to Darwin, not Son of a Trickster, which I was saving for the home trip so it would be fresh in my mind as I wrote it up, and which, consequently is now another month late. At Psyche’s my heart wasn’t in blogging and I indulged in a couple of SF novels off her shelves.
Corey J White (F,USA), Killing Gravity (2017)
Tricia Sullivan (F,Eng), Dreaming in Smoke (1998)
Since, I have mostly read Twitter and bits and pieces of mainstream news, though this morning I finally made inroads on Dorothy Hewett’s The Toucher which I have been carting around for months.
At the second-hand shop in Warrandyte I bought two hardbacks in beautiful condition, c/w dustjackets – DH Lawrence in Australia (1981) by Robert Darroch, and Pioneers on Parade by Miles Franklin and Dymphna Cusack (1939, A&R 1988 so a bicentenary pub.); plus In a Wilderness of Mirrors (1992) by Ric Throssell, KSP’s son. I reluctantly passed up another lovely hardback, Cuffy Mahony and other stories, by HH Richardson which I already have as a paperback.
Mum makes me cook tea. Here I am preparing a simple vegetarian moussaka.