8th July 2018 This Trucking Life

Goodaye all. I wrote the following in 2010 and did take my two youngest sons to see John Williamson in concert in Dubbo some years later. I spoke with John quickly after the show and gave him a card and suggested he might do another truckie song one day. I am still waiting for him to call.

This Trucking Life and this truckies wife.

Years ago, interstate trucking was over romanticised, you were your own boss and king of the road. It was never that good. You might have got to see a lot of Australia’s roads, but you did it alone and spent a lot of time away from family and this is still the same. You live in a mobile house, office, kitchen and bedroom all rolled into one and that bedroom is often one metre by two or less. At least you don’t have to travel far to go to work.

I’ve been doing interstate in b-doubles, 25 metres long and grossing about 62 tonne for the last 13 years, travelling around two and a half million kilometres in an area from Melbourne to Mackay with three trips to Perth, one to Townsville and one to Darwin, the last pulling triples, three trailers, 53 metres long and over 110 tonne gross weight.

I don’t think people are taught to properly respect the size and weight of these vehicles and certainly believe they are not taught to “share the road” with them. Not all truckies are perfect and often the tales of bad behaviour, or bad press following a crash where the truckie is often purported to be at fault do not help. With statistics showing more than 80% of fatalities between cars and trucks are
the car driver’s fault, some education of car drivers about sharing the road with these larger vehicles, that can now be said carry Australia on their back, could go a long way to making our roads safer for all, motorists and truckies alike.

Imagine being a truckies wife with your husband often away and possibly far away, not the same as him coming home each night, let alone to be able to come home on short notice in an emergency, real or imagined. This can be a lonely life for them as well, hoping their partner is safe on the road and with them looking after the family damn near all on their own. Even truckies who ring home regularly find it hard to have a normal marriage or relationship and too often when the truckie does get to visit home, he is dead tired and needs to recover to be ready to go and do it all again, to be able to pay the bills and feed the family he so rarely has time with.

Every second truckie I talk to has lost one or more families or partners, because of the pressures of the job and the lifestyle. You are entrusted with a truck and trailer combination worth three quarters of a million dollars or more and could have a load on worth as much or more again and then travel from one end of this
large country to the other with our less than perfect roads, insufficient and under developed rest areas with little or no shade, few toilets and motorists who
risk their lives and ours, because they cannot wait five minutes to overtake where it is safe and they can actually see enough roadspace. And yet we’re deemed by much of society and other car drivers, as out there with nothing better to do than try and have crashes with cars.

John Williamson’s song, “The Truckies Wife” has a couple of lines in it that ring all too true. He sings the truckie is often “like an uncle who comes home with ice creams and toys” rather than a father, and he asks “is there anything more for a truckies wife?”

My wife has put up with my lifestyle doing interstate for thirteen years, sometimes with me going to work saying I should be home tomorrow and then later getting a phone call to say I won’t be home for a week or more, I’m going to Perth, or each consecutive call saying I’m going to Sydney or Melbourne, or somewhere other than home. My children often ask will you be home next Thursday for a school event or birthday and all I can say is “You know better than to ask where I will be tomorrow, let alone in three or four days” and it kicks you every time you miss
one of those events. Rarely, you are there when other Dads are at work and you can be a lone Dad at a school item, but it isn’t the same.

I’m not proud that my wife does not really want me in “her” bed, the irregular early morning starts and or finishes mean you often disrupt the families sleep, let alone that when I come home I am “trying to change all her schedules and how she looks after the kids” if I try to help or get involved and if I don’t help, I am not doing my part with the children. Saying I’ll be home for school or something else and then being redirected, you break down, or are delayed for a myriad other reasons and then come home two days later, sees me being told don’t ring to say you are coming until you are here and then I’ll believe you.

No job is perfect, though my wife thinks I have a good time chatting on the UHF radio and going to different places. The reality is of course that I have to comply with laws made by people who mostly sleep in their own bed and who fly or have someone drive them about and mostly on the good roads. Airline pilots deserve all the credit and pay they get, but the conditions and perks are much better. A co-pilot, stewies to make you coffee, perfect runways and those you share the sky with trained and watched. We share the road with many who drive, and less
who are drivers. My wife and family are special and so are yours, please drive safely, respect the size and weight of large trucks and give us a wave occasionally, truckies are human too. Rod Hannifey, an Aussie Truckie. http://www.truckright.com.au

Much has changed for the better, some things have changed for the worse. I wish I could do more to make the roads safer and this a better job, but you can only do so much as an individual. I would welcome your comments. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey

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