5th April 2020 Food and behaviour.

Goodaye all. Another big week on the road, less traffic so very quiet and lonely at times, a welcome return to being able to eat in a roadhouse, subject of course to guidelines etc, though some roadhouses still to be aware. My favourite café in Temora, who of course could not let me eat there under the current rules (and I did ring ahead as normal), made my meal and even brought it out to me to eat in the truck. Still not as good as sitting down to a meal, but one stop gap measure when you have no other alternative.

Some places still refusing us use of a toilet, this must cease, we are not dogs and should not be treated like one. Would these places prefer we just pee in their yard or just squat in their driveway? We are told we must drink more and not let our throats dry out, we were being forced to eat just take-away and that can have effects other than just bad health overtime, yet we are being denied use of toilets.

If we act sensibly and people either have someone cleaning properly, or provide sanitary wipes or products for each user, then most will use them and act accordingly. If neither is done, then we will still have the problem of nothing available for others and or extending the life of the outbreak.

I did participate in the Truckies Hour program in the “Conversations” slot at 11AM on ABC Melbourne on Friday. It was good to have them recognise truckies, seek comment and along with Geoff Crouch from the ATA, the callers each raised valid points and I think we got a good story out. I then got a call from a driver I had met years earlier, who said he had been listening and who then thanked me for my efforts and said he agreed with all I had said.

The ABC also gave me some exposure from another story, done as a phone interview, which covers some of the same issues and ends with a call for more rest areas and facilities in the future.

On the other side of this, was the terrible behaviour of a couple of drivers who went berko when told they could not sit down for a meal. One roadhouse I spoke with, said they could not act till their management passed down the instruction and this is fair, considering the exemption was only announced the night before. Yes we are all a bit tense and frustrated, but taking it out on those who normally serve us well, when they too have bosses and regulations to comply with, will only see things get worse.

I stopped at the BP at Goondiwindi and they have a sign up saying they have employed a cleaner, you go in the shower, come out and give the key to the cleaner and they clean it for the next bloke. I asked the fellow at the console, had anyone said thank you and he said, no, I was the first and I didn’t even have a shower then.

In the piece on ABC Melbourne, both I and others did say we often feel unrecognised, but we have to be thankful to those who help us. It will not cost you more than a few seconds, no money and no pain, to say thank you when someone else helps and or provides good service and as you must all agree, that will normally be welcomed and then see that person likely to help you again in the future.

Perhaps we too have become complacent, but I fail to see why we cannot be human, respectful and polite. If you are treated badly, you will behave badly, or you can break the chain of bad behaviour, by being friendly, thankful of good service and being above the idiots. We can either be the professionals, the knights of the road, or we can be the idiots that all too often we are tarnished with being. I try, even as per my efforts here, will you try too, please?

I want to congratulate the ATA for “TRUCKSAFE” winning both the Corporate Fleet Safety and the founders award as overall winner in the 9th Annual Australian Road Safety Awards. It is industry owned and operated, I do think it has helped change some of the culture and whilst nothing is perfect, it is up to those involved and participating to do it right. Even if you only look at the need for driver medicals, that alone has possibly saved lives and improved the health of drivers, knowing too few of us will go to a doctor unless we are dying. The other parts of TRUCKSAFE and you can’t cherry pick and only do some bits and not others, all go some way to providing a good base system if you don’t have one of your own and can help you lift the bar and hopefully industry standards generally.

Another issue has been those who travel in their caravans with no home, doing the fruit picking and living the life on the road, may now have nowhere to go for the duration of this virus. It was highlighted late Friday on another ABC Melbourne program when a fellow rang in, saying he could not get an answer from anyone as to what he should do. The announcer Raph, did say he would try and get an answer and some rang in offering the fellow somewhere to stay. But there are many more and I have still seen many vans on the road, some perhaps still heading home if they have one. All I ask if they continue to roam, is to make sure they think of us if they have to stop in a rest area.

We have a long way to go to get through this, it will not be over in a month and some effects will last for years. Those involved in trucking, I know you will mostly do your best. Those on the outside, have you thought more of the truckies still working or has it not reached your thoughts yet? Please let me know what you think either way. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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