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
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.
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”