(truck­ing)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Su­san G. Scott Re­view this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

They had me at the first gear change, the day the new high­way opened in the late 1960s, af­ter cut­ting a broad rib­bon through our pic­turesque dairy farm in Tas­ma­nia.

Those log-laden Mack bull­dogs and Man diesels growled all the way down the long hill where we had learned to drive while the road was be­ing built.

I’d lie in wait as they came up from the South­ern Forests to­wards town, al­ways around 7am. Noth­ing au­to­matic, they dou­ble-clutched past my bed­room ev­ery morn­ing.

Back then we used to take 15 show horses on a semi-trailer to shows and one-day events — that also could have some­thing to do with the in­ti­macy I still feel for them. These are happy mem­o­ries. I am a truck junkie. I get them. I get how much room they need.

I re­live the high­lights of my driv­ing life, like when I ap­proached a round­about along­side a semi and the driver just knew I stayed be­side him, one out and one back, so he could use the whole two lanes to get his rig around with ease.

I can still see his big hand wav­ing and salut­ing me. The next time I tried it, the bloke just thought I was a stupid old lady.

I once sat in the dark along­side that aw­fully long stretch of road from Hay to De­niliquin, out­side our car­a­van park, feel­ing the ela­tion build as I watched the pin­pricks of light grow to full beams be­fore I could even hear them.

By the time we reached Bro­ken Hill on that par­tic­u­lar trip, I de­murely gave the sig­nal kids do to trucks, pulling the air a cou­ple of times, and felt com­pletely in­tox­i­cated when the gor­geous black and shiny chrome af­fair honked the horn just for me.

Some of my nieces don’t laugh at me, promis­ing they will just park me along­side the high­way when I’m in a home in a wheel­chair (thanks, girls). And now? One of my sons drives a 22-wheeler 540hp Volvo semi. Sigh. And I have a nephew in one of those huge Ko­matsu 830E min­ing trucks. Sigh.

I al­ways try to be around when a stock truck is due to pick up sheep or lambs from our farm. It’s my job — it re­ally is — to guide them in as they re­verse their hulk­ing ma­chines up to the load­ing ramp.

If it’s a four-decker, I can barely con­tain my ex­cite­ment. I’m sure it’s not be­cause of my ex­cel­lent hand sig­nals but they al­ways get it right first go. Ev­ery time. I feel awe as they slow just right to feather-touch the ramp.

So if you ever see an old girl sit­ting be­side a road, in her own lit­tle set of wheels, do give her a honk.

That would make her ex­tremely happy.

wel­comes sub­mis­sions to This Life. To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, the work must be orig­i­nal and be­tween 450 and 500 words. Sub­mis­sions may be edited for clar­ity. Send emails to Syd­ney Car­ton is one of the main char­ac­ters in which Charles Dick­ens novel? Fukuoka is the most pop­u­lous city on which Ja­panese is­land? Ber­nadette Rostenkowski mar­ried which char­ac­ter in Which pop­u­lar mu­si­cal fea­tures a vil­lain named Ma­cav­ity? Who was Casey Del­lac­qua’s dou­bles part­ner at this year’s French Open?

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