Nobody ever wrote a song about being an Optometrist or an Accountant

In Carrier's Corner, March 20225 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 20, 2022

Country singer Jerry Reed summed up the trucking gig pretty nicely in his iconic East Bound and Down when he sang: “We gonna do what they say can’t be done… We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there…”

Old-mate Jerry likely had no idea that his 1977 musical classic would still ring true 40 or more years later with the pressures of getting the job done and the need to ‘keep your foot hard on the pedal’ meeting the constant demands of keeping the wheels turning. What Mr Reed probably also didn’t foresee was the emergence of so much red tape and compliance that “Ol’ Smokey having their ears on” would be the least of an operator’s worries.

What hasn’t changed, however, and what resonates with me, is the tremendous task that trucks and transport operators continue to do day in, day out. And the immense pride and satisfaction that we should collectively take from the contribution we make to our country and our communities – irrespective of the picture that mainstream media might, at times, like to paint of us.

Think for a moment about that load of raw milk that a tanker weaves its way across numerous farm tracks to uplift in the dead of night, returning to a processing plant to be processed into high-value dairy products exported from New Zealand to all corners of the world. That very export product earns the country valuable foreign exchange dollars, and it’s all kicked off by a trip in a stainless tank aback a humble chassis.

Or maybe we should go back a step and think about how the critical inputs required to grow the grass or bolster the animal’s growth made it to the farm in the first place? How the fertiliser was then spread across the land, and the feed made it up into the silo? What may have looked like just another job on the dispatcher’s screen, dispatched at haste to a driver eagerly working hard to get that extra load in for the day, is in fact the transportation of some crucial product to fuel a key part of the country’s economic engine.

In many other sectors, we’re bombarded with examples of the essential link that trucks provide in delivering, quite literally, the road- going conduit to keep industry moving. Consider the heavy-haul unit dragging roadmaking machinery deep into a forestry block which will form the tracks that enable the logs to be plucked from deep within the bush by another truck dispatched to the mill for machining into construction-ready timber, for yet another truck to get it to site ready to be erected into someone’s future home.

Love him or loathe him, Clarke Gayford’s recent TV exposé into the behind-the-scenes tale of house movers, Moving Houses, has cast a light on and provided kudos close to home (excusing the terrible pun) on the mammoth task involved in such relocations – all of which would otherwise occur out of the public gaze and go somewhat unnoticed in the hours of darkness. The popularity of Ice Road Truckers and Outback Truckers on mainstream television is further proof of viewer demand and interest for such insights.

And my point in illustrating these examples of how trucks play such a key role in making the country work? Simply that as an industry we’re often the last to take the time to sit back, even momentarily, to celebrate and take in the – often monumental – cameo that we’ve collectively played in making some amazing things happen, and their impact on our customers, our communities, and our country.

Let us never underestimate the awe with which our ‘daily grind’ is held by so many outside our industry, whether they are keen observers or have a hunger to become involved in the industry and help ‘keep that diesel truckin’.