It was hilarious watching the faces.
Scotty, about forty, separated and a bit testy at his ex, filled in the details as we barrelled down the M1 with a load of chilled fish bound for Brisbane’s sushi bars.
He had an audience for the first time and took advantage. After all, I was his captive for two whole days as I was taken around his run as training for my new casual job, driving the six pallet chill truck.
“Yell out if you want coffee!”
An apparently humane offer, considering the breakfast free five AM start at a Mooloolaba cool store, inside which very sharp knives in expert hands reduced huge swordfish into steaks.
“OK, whenever it suits you!”
Wrong! It never suited Scotty. He never stops. Drinks his coke while driving, eats while driving, gets updates on schedules while driving and talked to his eight year old many times by phone, also while driving.
Scotty doesn’t stop for anything except pick-ups and drop-offs. Forget smokos, tea and meal breaks or rest periods. Welcome to the real world or free enterprise. I did the math and asked if the truck made money. A guarded ‘yes’ revealed the truth. If the drivers don’t run all day, the trucks lose money and the jobs go. It’s survival of the fittest out there, and they need to be fit!
The stares were funny. At each stop, we carried boxes of swordfish or tuna into shops and I was introduced as the guy doing work experience. Each time the double take as my age was estimated, probably correctly and the not always verbal reaction was: “This must be a joke!”
But joke it was not. What prompted a mid seventies SOB to go back to work in such a demanding job had them scratching their heads. “Why?” was the occasional question and I answered with the truth.
‘Anybody living on a boat knows the age pension doesn’t make it’.
I must say, people were cheerful and pleasant everywhere we went, maybe because Scotty is such a nice bloke or maybe because they are like that with everyone. A bit of both, I reckon. Later, I might have something to say about the shop where every morsel was weighed before the receipt was signed and what that said about business practices in whatever country the owner originated.
Driven by the need to find the readies to have Tiziana surveyed for insurance drove me, in a rash moment, to offer my rusty services. Sean was stuck for an appropriate licence holder to fill in for the occasional unavailable driver. Chilled fish needs to get there now, not next week when a sick driver returns. So here I was, balancing the big wheels between lane markers that were suddenly narrower than I ever remembered them.
I completed my full driving day on Friday, no bent panels, no scratched paint, no skittled pedestrians or cyclists and only the occasional red face when a gear was missed. But I was buggered!
If anyone reads this and you are, for some inexplicable reason, interested in how I cope next week, I will try to marshal the energy for a report. A comment would be good, even if it is only a “Tsk! Tsk!”