Ten Quid Well Spent

A short story by Bob Collins (Stumpy)

Bigmouth Joe was a truckie who drove one of the six log trucks from Kaingaroa Forest to Waipa Sawmill, six days a week, three loads a day. The trucks were really stretched to maintain this momentum and any delay on the road could mean that last vital load for the day could be lost.

Not that Bigmouth Joe would brook any delay anyhow, he knew only one way to drive, flat tap! He was pretty hard on equipment, the way he drove, but man, he could shift timber like nobody else.

He worked every Sunday to maintain his big eighteen wheel cab-over-engine rig in top mechanical order, he knew every corner of the road, he knew the exact gear he had to hit on every grade, he drove fast but safely, but any delay on the road drove him nuts.

Well,one day Joe was barreling along the highway with a song in his heart, not a worry in the world, engine running smoothly twenty five tons of log tagging along behind, when he experienced the fright of his life. While driving at high speed over “earthquake flat”, this old biddy driving an ancient Austin seven overtook him and shot past going like the clappers. As if this was not insult enough, she had the gall to toot him a ‘beep beep’, on that tinpot little Austin horn. Joe was outraged!

“Earthquake flat” was the flat stretch of road on which he always wound up the big rig to peak revs so he could get up and over the approaching steep grade of ‘Rifle Range’ hill with at least two gears in hand. If he missed out on that speed on the approach, he would have to chop down to low, low, which would mean a slow, slow crawl to the top; it could even cost him that precious last load for the day.

Well, not to worry, the old biddy had disappeared up the road ahead of him, so even though indignant he at least got his run at the bottom of the hill. Bigmouth Joe’s satisfaction was short lived. Half way up the steep grade his rig caught up to the baby Austin, puttering along, hard up against the white centre line, no show at all of passing!

Bigmouth became furious! As he chopped down through his range of gears he closed his rig up behind the little car until the high cab towered above its back bumper, he bellowed out his warning on his howling air horns, but do you think the old biddy would speed up or let him past? Not on your life!

Joe went through his gear ratios like a man possessed, becoming angrier by the minute. In desperation,he looked around his cab for inspiration,saw the shoe box full of heavy greasy nuts and bolts, leftovers from his weekend maintenance, grabbed a huge handful, leaned out of his cab door window and showered the Austin with the lot.

That was too much for the old biddy. She took off like a scalded cat, and Bigmouth Joe has never sighted the Austin since. But, the story is not over. When he drove into the sawmill yard to unload, Joe was met by the traffic department making enquiry into a complaint made against him. Yes,that handful of nuts and bolts were enough to put Bigmouth Joe up before the court.

Well court day finally arrived so Bigmouth Joe, red faced and resplendent in a dark suit too small for him, taking an awful shiaking from his mates in the bush gang, knocked off early to attend. The court hearing cost him a couple of loads too, but he arrived back at work next morning all chipper and happy.

He had been fined ten quid, the best ten quid he had ever spent, Joe reckoned, worth every penny of it, just to watch that old biddy, in her little tin can, take off like a rat up a drainpipe, after she had been showered by his nuts and bolts. It had been great to watch