A rolling stone

In Short Story March 2023, March 20236 MinutesBy Dave McCoidApril 18, 2023

It’s one of those companies that’s always had something about it,” says Bruce Weaver. “The gear, the presentation of the trucks… “It’s one of those places that people have always wanted to get into, I guess. I was always a bit wary about carting stones. I’ve always liked a clean truck… sort of ‘if it doesn’t shine, it ain’t mine’,” he says with a laugh. “It’s still something even two years in that frustrates me at times. I was on the Mack centenary Trident at the time of the last Wanaka show, and we had it all polished up for that. Mack wanted to do a photoshoot straight after – it looked a million bucks. Then, next day, it was in the river carting stones to Kaiapoi, and it looked filthy by 9am. But, hey, it’s an asset, and that’s what it was bought to do. You know that’s where they spend the bulk of their life when you walk in the gate. The key to keeping them looking good is washing – regularly and often.

“Having said that, it’s still one of the reasons I came off that work and took the Volvo. On the cement work, it stays cleaner a little bit longer.”

Born in Blenheim, 60-year-old Bruce spent much of his formative years in Auckland, attending Rangitoto Primary and Northcote Intermediate before returning to the Mainland.

Bruce Weaver in the place he’s most comfortable. Behind the wheel.

“Dad was a mechanic and an extremely clever bloke. I remember him making glow-plug engines from absolutely nothing, starting with steel and turning and fabricating them up. He’s 87 now, a bit old for that sort of thing, but he’s a bloody clever bloke.”

Looking to get going in the workforce, Bruce took a job at the produce markets in Timaru. “I drove the delivery truck there as part of the job. I’d always liked trucks right from young and thought it was something I might get into. Once I was behind the wheel, I thought, ‘Yep, this is a bit of me all right’, and ever since, I’ve just done the best I could.”

From there, it was a stint working in pest control and fumigation services on the port in Timaru, and then back into the trucking game at Hilton Haulage under Peter Anderson, someone Bruce would come to respect immensely.

“I worked at Hiltons on and off for the next 22 years. Peter Anderson was a great boss. We’ve known each other for a long time now and he’s a bloody good bloke. I’ve got a lot of time for Peter.

“My first job there was driving a D-Series Ford dropsider on a twice-daily run to Geraldine, a 70km round trip. In the season, I’d put the pea bins on and do that. I’ve pretty much done everything in my time; local, V-bins (potatoes), and linehaul all over the country.

“I’ve also done a couple of turns for TNL, working on Hiab trucks for a time while I was there. I recall a funny story about a young bloke from the office coming with me on a trip up to Ohau Station. The track to the delivery site was as you’d expect – tight and steep, with huge drop-offs and narrow bridges. On one bridge, he moved over to the centre of the cab. ‘It’s no use moving there,’ I said. ‘You’re further from an escape route than you were before.’ On the way back, he wanted to get out and walk across the bridge. That didn’t happen… Swissshh, we were over and gone!

“I’ve always preferred cabovers. I had three FY Hinos at Hiltons. Peter offered me a bonneted truck once, and I told him that wouldn’t be happening. That said, I ended up on a Century Class Freightliner years later in Christchurch and then the Trident when I came here.”

Two years ago, Bruce handed in his keys at Hilton and started at Road Metals. “It’s a very different place. You’re home almost every night – it’s really only the cement run to Twizel and Oamaru that has me away for a night or two.

“The dirty-truck thing certainly takes some getting used to, and there’s a lot of repetition in the work, as you’d expect. The cement run is good. It gets you out and on the road.

“I’ve had a varied career but always ended up on trucks again,” he reflects with a smile.

How many of us could write that last line in our life book?