Huge road trains thunder by at about one every minute,sucking in everything in their slipstream. Australia’s Hume Highway is about 13 kilometres from where we live, but it might as well be in another country. The peace and quiet on the farm is in contrast to the concentrated diesel driven chaos on The Highway. A few years ago, these 48 wheeled monsters started showing signage on their tarpaulins with the word ‘logistic’ written on them.
So, ‘Pineapples from Queensland to you logistics’ were all of a sudden catapulted into a world of absolute efficiency, order and in total submission to commerce, unheard of only a few years earlier. LOGISTICS was the word that transformed all that trucking, and not just only in pine-apples.
How much of ‘logistics’ is there in this mad transport of one truck a minute making it at least 800 trucks passing through every day? This , of course is just on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne and this number is probably conservative. I am buggered if I am going out at the middle of a cold winter’s night to count trucks. The few evenings that I happened to be travelling, there were trucks almost cabin to trailer and a dazzle of red tail-lights as they overtook me.
There are now truck-stops and rest stations so big they resemble airports. The shops, cafeterias and take-away are open 24/7 days. The toilets are doing a roaring trade with coin operated machines selling condoms called euphemistically ‘rough- riders’ and ‘Lick ‘n Slip’. I believe they are now made from re-cycled truck tyres for extra strength. What goes around comes around, and up and down we go. Cupid fires his arrows in mysterious ways and venues. It takes a rough rider to know them all!
Years ago I I drove a truck picking up many tonnes of lime from Kandos near Lithgow in Australia and on the way back going up Mount Victoria, the engine that had laboured so bravely gave up and died, blowing oil all over the place in its last gasp. It was mid-winter, and in the evening as well. This truck did not provide sleeping arrangements so I made do with undoing the tarp and slept on top of those Kandos lime bags. I had a restless and cold night. No romance.
Of course, we now know, convinced by many advertising gurus that problems don’t exist anymore. They have given us SOLUTIONS now. The word ‘solutions’ is now taking Australia by storm. I pay my rates at the local Shire at a desk proudly displaying ‘solutions’ queue here, please ! My local butcher is now ‘Southern Highlands Meat Solutions’. When grandchildren come over I often buy two kilos of Country thick sausages. Am I now, when bending over the wood fired barbecue, peering at ‘meat solutions’ and not at those innocent sausages?
Are those word slogans actually working? Are the words ‘ Creative Sustainable Solutions’ doing the job, or is the answer in the ‘doing’? The trucking industry was also the first to advertise and write ‘solutions’ on their covers. We now have “Queensland Pineapple LOGISTICS and SOLUTIONS’, hurling towards grateful Melbournians. I hesitate to think what would happen if two trucks collide with ‘logistics and solutions’ sprawled all over the highway.
Have we gone mad with slogans? Are the advertisers taking us for fools, enslaving us to words that are promising but meaningless? If 800 trucks go in one direction, another 800 would go the other way, and that just between Sydeny and Melbourne. What about all that wear and tear on the drivers and the trucks, roads? What about all that diesel carbon?
Is that the right solution? The logistics seem to imply that it could be wasteful and that goods trains on rails replace road-trains, with adequate depots at all ends could be a better solution. What do you reckon? Is this a ‘solution’ or do the ‘logistics’ not add up?
Of course, the sales of ‘Rough Riders’ might suffer.