Being a dump truck operator in the mining industry living a FIFO lifestyle does not have to be boring. Mad Mumzie discusses her blog post further about things you can do whilst working long hours away from home. These concepts can work for most who are working long hours, shift work away from home, not just as a dump truck operator.
Thanks to my “Girlfriend” Cookie for the tunes
We spend so much time in our machines, especially if as a
“Dump Truck Operator (Truckie)”
What do you do with your time?….Other than dream about being anywhere but here.
After my article on this issue came out in Shift Miner Magazine (my first one!) a friend of mine who helps others find ways to get into the mines, pointed out my comment of wanting to be anywhere but here!
“They don’t know about that bit.”
If you are yet to break into the mining industry, wishing your days away and trying to find a way in, Mad Mumzie is here to share what its really like, and see if you are “Cut Out To Be A Miner?”
You need to be aware right from the beginning that you will probably get bored pretty quickly. It’s all very new and exciting at first, as you are learning the whole way of mining, and how to actually drive the big trucks. The travel time to and from work can also get very tedious and boring, week in week out, year after year.
You will start to know the mining environment, your job, the people around you, the routines, even driving the trucks will be second nature. Eventually you will become comfortable, perhaps even comfortable numb………..
“Hmm Pink Floyd it up! I love this song!!
Little respite, now back to it..focus here with me.”
“I just wanna get on a dozer? grader, digger..shovel. Anything I’ve done my time
as a Dump Truck Operator!”
In a while, and this time changes from person to person, most will start looking for other machines to drive.
The water cart is usually the next step “up” because as a truckie you are definitely seen as the bottom of the heap. Remember that most of those who are above you, started right where you are. Some are happy to be a truckie forever, and I was for the longest time, then the GFC Hit.
I just wanted to be the best truckie on site, keep writing, and resting when it rained. I was happy enough with that, making plans, learning and earning the big bucks.
But then came the GFC and heaps of people got put off. People who were “just” a truckie in the eyes of the big kahunas that made the decisions, were the worst hit among my tribe. It did not matter if they were hard working, never had a day off sick, great for moral, ...just a truckie?…your out.
It was like when I used to do martial arts, in a past life. I was doing pretty good, got my red belt and then the instructor was pushing me to go for my black belt. I was happy to be the best red belt in the club, but no, he made me do a jumping reverse turning kick to break those 2 freaking boards over and over one night, in front of the class. They must have been thinking what is this old lady doing? (I was probably 32) I gave up in the end, I couldn’t do it. I was getting dizzy, and I got worse not better!! Then I found out I had to do a thesis as well. Huh? I just want to get fit and be able to protect myself a bit. I never did try out for my black belt.
I just wanna be a truckie, but unlike the martial arts episode,
I put my hand up for the grader when it came along.
You are told by some of those who don’t drive trucks anymore, that being a truckie is the easiest job, and they don’t even see it as work, real mining. Put one of them back in a truck. Waaaaah!! Oh they might like the novelty of doing a hot seat here and there, but doing it all shift, day in day out? Brain dead boneheads they say, and would start looking for another job, or whinge to whoever would listen.
Everyone wants to be “just” a truckie when its wet. “The others” are out there digging trenches, dozer push, and grading off the mud. The truckies are the last ones to get going. Which is all well and good as it’s nice to have a rest, or even a sleep, especially on night shift. It gets bloody boring though after 5 days at the crib hut, with the same people and the same magazines being passed around…Groundhog Day!
I must admit when I was on the water cart 6 weeks straight
I got over it pretty quick.
It was so rough in the little truck. Walking up and down the steps to turn on and then off the tap all shift long took a toll on my old body. I was wearing out fast. Then as a grader operator I longed for a day back in a truck, a rest. Realistically though it was mostly so I could write!! That’s what I did most of the time when I had a chance. You never have enough hands in a grader, especially the H, so writing was out of the question, maybe a bit at crib. Staying alive, dodging the big trucks was the main goal of the shift.
Your time can be used for so many things. Thoughts running through your head hour after hour, can seriously mess you up if you have issues going on in your life. The wee hours of the morning, being away from family, unable to help out in times of need and thinking of all the worst thoughts and scenarios.
You gotta be here for the big bucks right? $$$$ Why not plan ahead a little bit?
Escape into a good book, plan a holiday, do some brain therapy…that Sudoku does my head in! …Study something, anything. I knew a guy who was doing his human movements degree in a truck. Research your next boat, draw your next tattoo, or like so many, read some trash, mindless celebrity magazine. Whatever blows your hair back.
Of course you need to keep focused on your work at the same time, but going up and down the same ramp doesn’t have to be as brain numbing as some people make out.
Gold Fish Syndrome!
I have suffered this myself, like when the grader driver asks where on the circuit you want graded, and you can’t think…
“I will do a lap and let you know!”
Hello!! I have been doing laps on the same circuit all day. Goldfish syndrome.
Nowadays you can get courses in audio format that you could put on a USB stick or iPod if your site allows those. There are talking books galore on CD or on line, so you don’t even actually have to read it.
Podcasting is the new big thing, and there is a seriously awesome choice available. Comedy to cars, dating to TV show chats, and my favourite …..hmm you will have to guess that one! Subscribe to your favourite so you won’t miss a thing. It’s easy and the growing podcast community means more choices are coming on board daily, hourly even.
Of course if you love music and you choose to listen all day to your favourite tunes blast away. But please, still listen to the bloody two way cause the peeps with their music up not answering is so annoying. Funny how they always hear when its time to park up though!
What’s your style, laid back country or headbanging thrash metal?
I was listening to a song going up a ramp on night shift that kept repeating
“Shut your eyes.” Not a good idea, plan that track for day shift!
It is a bit of fun to get into a machine and someone has left their USB stick in there. Listening to it unfold can be good, but it can get ugly too How some people listen to some things is beyond me. It’s good when everyone knows it is in there, has been there for ages and then they start saying it some old mates Nana Mouskouri music, little bit of banter helps with fatigue. Nothing against Nana Miskuri but she gets bought up a lot!
I was super careful not to leave my USB’s in a machine.
The crew would think I was madder than they already thought!
Other things I have done over the years to pass the time of day:
- Sit ups going up the ramp for fitness…whilst hanging onto the steering wheel though. Not reading!! as sadly I have seen this too.
- Looking out for wildlife
- Check out the sky. You will see the most stunning sunsets, sunrises and stars. The view changes every lap too. When your in the bottom of the pit looking up you think wow it’s going to pour with rain, then you get to the dump and they look like The Simpson’s Cartoon clouds.
- Being a competitive kind of person I always try to improve my times getting under the diggers and at the dumps, that way you would pass old mate earlier on the track. It’s not racing, it’s improving, it’s increased production! Of course you get over this too, but its nice for a bit of a challenge every now and then.
- Sitting in your truck by yourself most of the time gives you freedom to talk, scream, laugh out loud to yourself, or to the clowns on the two way! “Tell me a freakin story would ya?” Sadly, there is even time to have a good cry too. But someone might notice when you go in for crib.
What do you do, or think you will do in your truck?
(This is not an R rated post either people. ) The mind boggles at some things that could, would and I’m sure do go on, but I’m nice and choose to think of the productive, fun, interesting activities to help pass the days and nights.
Eventually, the time does pass. All 13 hours of it in most places nowadays.
First crib, second crib, then the shadows lengthen or the sun starts to come out. That’s the sign I always look for. Countdown to the end of shift…….then you countdown the number of shifts, and then you get to go HOME!!…..before returning to do it all over again.
You can get through it, learn a bit, have a little fun,
laugh at your self, sing and dance and blink $$$$ signs like many do.
Not here to make friends they say, yeah sure.
Don’t forget to factor in time to plan what to do with your hard earned money, whilst your at work being a brain dead truckie on over 100k per year!
I mention the cable behind the rope shovel as being the rope..durrr! Of course to all who know these beasts the ropes are the steel ropes that lift the bucket.
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Thanks to my “Girlfriend” Cookie for the tunes!
Until next week, stay safe, be real, be special and have fun for we only live once.