CLOSE EN­COUN­TERS OF THE AU­THOR­I­TAR­IAN KIND

It’s such a fun time li­ais­ing with uni­formed of­fi­cers, es­pe­cially those on the road­side dur­ing the Aus­trans blitz that have truck driv­ers in their sights. Scotty Douglas tells a few tales

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver -

OP­ER­A­TION AUS­TRANS – that time of the year when ev­ery­body in east coast truck­ing gets to put their best foot for­ward.

I like to think of it as a bond­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, that one time of the year that law en­force­ment and driv­ers get to spend some qual­ity time to­gether at the road­side.

There’s noth­ing like stand­ing un­der arc lights with a cute bea­gle sniff­ing at your an­kles to bring about a sense of ca­ma­raderie at the coal­face. There’s noth­ing like hav­ing a torch shone in your face to bring about a warm fuzzy feel­ing to­wards your fel­low hu­man be­ing.

Of course, it’s also when ev­ery meth head, crack-smok­ing mother@#%!er with a log­book comes out of the wood­work to feed the tabloid me­dia’s ap­petite for sen­sa­tional sto­ries about drugged-up mon­ster truck driv­ers.

That said, A Cur­rent Af­fair may pull their head in a lit­tle af­ter one of their own re­porters was re­cently busted for be­ing a ‘rock spi­der’. Kind of erodes the moral high ground a lit­tle, re­ally.

Se­ri­ously, though, in this day and age if you can’t make a mile with­out a chem­i­cal cock­tail cours­ing through your veins, you have no place be­hind the wheel of any­thing ex­cept maybe a mo­bil­ity scooter.

Drugs aside, we all screw up from time to time. There was the time I took a wrong turn off a busy road into a cul- de-sac that turned out to be al­most ex­actly the same length as my B- dou­ble and lined with parked cars. In the early morn­ing dark I had no hope of back­ing out with­out caus­ing an ac­ci­dent so I spent the next half an hour call­ing my­self a whole lot of nasty names, most of which ended in ‘bas­tard’, as I split the trail­ers and per­formed a rather re­mark­able 325-point turn in a fac­tory drive­way with each trailer to get out again.

By the time I’d fin­ished I was a grease-smeared, sweat-sod­den wreck with a nifty black GT stripe over the top of my nog­gin from the tag trailer lead-in plate. Yet I still had two de­liv­er­ies to do. I reckon that was penance enough!

Imag­ine if the wal­lop­ers had turned up. I can see how it would have played out. I would’ve had to shrug my shoul­ders and say, “Oops, I made a mis­take.”

I ex­pect I would have been fined for stray­ing off a B- dou­ble route and been lec­tured on be­ing a pro­fes­sional who had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to know where I was go­ing.

RUN­AWAY LOG­BOOK

So in the midst of all this Aus­trans bond­ing and hi­lar­ity, a mate of mine was pulled up in Mel­bourne’s in­dus­trial east.

The fella in blue wasn’t a high­way of­fi­cer; no doubt he was a lo­cal who’d been told to fo­cus on heavy ve­hi­cles dur­ing the blitz.

Old mate handed over his log­book and li­cence feel­ing more than a lit­tle smug. The guys at Marulan had been through both this log­book and his pre­vi­ous one with a mi­cro­scope a cou­ple of days ear­lier.

Go­ing back over six months they did not find a sin­gle word or num­ber out of place. He even got a nice pa­tro­n­is­ing lit­tle pep talk at the end for be­ing ‘a good boy’. He was quite dis­ap­pointed that he didn’t get a koala stamp at the end.

The of­fi­cer strolled back up to the prime mover and handed his li­cence back to him be­fore re­turn­ing to the pa­trol car.

Old mate just as­sumed that the of­fi­cer was then go­ing to study his log­book in a lit­tle more de­tail.

It was about then that he saw the pa­trol car pull out into traf­fic, with his log­book still sit­ting on the roof, flap­ping in the breeze. Yel­low pages flut­tered out of the sky like bu­reau­cratic con­fetti as the pa­trol car dis­ap­peared into the dis­tance. With a fran­tic jolt of panic old mate fired up the big Cummins, grabbed a gear and set off in hot pur­suit.

Old mate was driv­ing it like a freight train mut­ter­ing fran­tic swear words un­der his breath as he snatched the gears, hop­ing to get the of­fi­cer’s at­ten­tion or at the very least to see where his per­fectly com­pleted and signed log­book was go­ing to land af­ter it in­evitably flew off the roof of the cop car.

A 550hp T409 may be a handy bit of gear of the road, how­ever, it’s safe to say that it’s no match for a VF Commo on a mis­sion re­gard­less of the driver’s skill. Said log­book was last seen flap­ping its way, high­speed mo­bile down the right-hand lane of Can­ter­bury Road un­der lights and sirens.

Faced with the ab­sence of his book, old mate had no choice but to aban­don the chase and get onto the high­way be­fore he ended up on the evening news. And, of course, to his un­bri­dled de­light, the Broad­ford weigh­bridge was open.

While sit­ting in line with sweat trick­ling down his tem­ples, he men­tally de­bated about what he was go­ing to say. Should he run with the truth? Or should he run with the more be­liev­able “a dog ate my log­book while I was un­load­ing”?

Maybe he could feign some sort of men­tal episode as a re­sult of alien ab­duc­tion? Both would be more be­liev­able than “my log­book was stolen by a po­lice of­fi­cer”.

To his im­mense re­lief, he was waved through the bridge af­ter be­ing weighed off. It was a ner­vous drive be­fore he man­aged to get to Glen­rowan and get a new book!

Imag­ine if he’d been able to catch up with the cop who stole his book.

What do you think the cop­per might say? I reckon it would be some­thing like, “Sorry mate, mis­takes hap­pen.”

“A dog ate my log­book while I was un­load­ing”

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