The hidden years in Canada 43, the Bedford

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Wednesday 27 May 23:50


The Bedford

We were waiting in front of the office and noticed that the light was still out and there was not a single car in the parking lot. We had the windows of the Pontiac half open and it was strange to think that our mates were now again on the 19th floor at  work. ‘ I've been thinking about something Rico, 'I said,' I think we may no longer work at Place Concorde because the lip feels peopled. He did not half like that when Ken came over to greet us. ‘ ‘Could it be jealousy,’ Rico asked? ‘No, it's more that he does not want to be controlled. He does not like that we have contact with a major shareholder. He feels threatened. He himself has seen how Ken makes quick work of his own people when they treat employees without respect. Let alone if there is a Louis the lip running around, half a primate, asking people whether they are stillborn or he holds them half out of a cage. ‘ ‘You're right,’ Rico said thoughtfully, ‘but we can not help it that we know him, we met him in a love-in.’ ‘No, but that does not mean anything at all to the lip, he won’t have eyes and ears of the boss around to limit him in his bullying, his verbal abuse.’

In the summertime, came from the little speaker and the first cars were filling up the parking lot next to the office. ‘Who are we waiting for,’ Rico asked? ‘I have no idea,’ I said, ‘if the office is open, we’ll report at the counter and then we’ll hear it.’ The Luxaflex was pulled up and neon tubes flickered on. ‘Well there we go,’ Rico said and we got out and walked to the office.

At the other end of the long counter girls were typing and phones were ringing in small spaces that were meant to pass for offices. ‘Who are you,’ asked the girl behind the counter? ‘We had to report here,’ I said. ‘Ah,’ she said, ‘the suckers from Place Concord. you should never come in here, we do not want customers to get the wrong impression. ‘ ‘We were sent,’ I said and I held my arms a little wide and shrugged. ‘I was still speaking,’ the girl said. ‘Go to the storage shed and just ask for Baily, he will help you further, nice day,’ and she pointed to the door.


‘Bailey,’ I said, 'that's Kiwi, what would he have for us? ‘ ‘Hey guys,’ said Kiwi, ‘are you ready for it?’ ‘I do not really know for what,’ I replied, ‘but you seem to know.’ ‘Can you drive that blue Bedford,’ he asked? ‘I do not know I've never driven a truck,’ I said. ‘Right, we will practice a few times at the end of the day,’ said Kiwi. ‘ Mama Fuzz drove occasionally some loads when we were short a driver. ‘ ‘Wow,’ I said, 'am I going to drive it? ‘ ‘Not exactly,’ said Kiwi. ‘You’ll drive a week with me and then you’ll  go for your test.’ ‘Look most of the boys are at work in Place Concorde but before we got that job, we had  customers as well. Things here are loaded up by forklift and you'll drive through the province with your swamper and you unload the cargo by hand. You should not let customers wait, so first empty your truck and then you can quietly stop for coffee on the way back. Look, I often made a run with Jeff and Fuzzy as co-drivers but they are gone and I'm leaving at the end of the month to Australia and one  day Place Concorde will be done and then we want, until the next big job comes along ,the old customers that we have.'

His truck was piled high, a strap was pulled over it which was tightened with a ratchet winch. ‘Well guys get in,’ said Kiwi. ‘You’ and he turned to me, ‘must pay attention because next week you’ll do a run on your own with your mate. I tell you what I do and you remember that. ‘ I nodded, I was delighted I had the idea that I had landed a fantastic job.

‘There are two gear shifts one with four and one with five gears. You have to deal with combinations therefor , and the gearbox is not synchronized. ‘ ‘I do not understand what you say,’ I said. ‘You just have to listen,’ said Kiwi, ‘and watch. You would if you're very heavily loaded start in 1..1, which is a creeper gear then, when you hear the correct revs you can upshift with the small poke, you go to 2. 1 .. and then you listen very carefully to the engine and if enough revs present themselves, then you switch to 3 .. 1 you hold the gearshift in your hand and ‘feel’ the gear in there, so you don’t force anything, else the whole gearbox chews away. ‘ 'pay attention' and he accelerated, then he pushed gingerly with his right hand the poke to the next gear slot and you could hear the ticking gears and cogwheels, seeking connection. He gave a little gas and you heard the engine revving up in neutral now  and he let go of the accelerator pedal and while the speed dropped, he tapped without any cruching sounds the poke in 4 .... 1.


The truck jolted a bit in the new gear that had been found and moved on. ‘Okay,’ said Kiwi '' Now I've had all short accelerations of the small poke. What now? ' ‘I'm listening,’ I said. ‘Now you have to shift with 2 pokes,’ said my master, ‘so the clutch is in, the little poke goes back to one and at the same time the big poke goes for the second gear. So then you're in '... and he waited for the answer? ‘In 2 ..1,’ I replied, and ‘what is the next gear,’ Kiwi wanted to know? ‘That would be 2 ... 2 '' and what comes then,’ he laughed, '' 2 ... 3 ' ‘You're fucking brilliant,’ he exclaimed. He was funny .. ‘Hey,’ he shouted, ‘I'm going to shift gears and you tell me what I should do,’ ‘clutch,’ I shouted over the roaring engine, ‘give a bunch of gas, listen to the revs and ‘feel’ the gear in there. ‘ ‘Right,’ roared Kiwi, 'you will get coffee from me. I spent 2 weeks with Fuzzy before he got it. ‘

‘What is the highest gear,’ Kiwi cried my way. ‘ 4 ... 5, ‘I cried. ‘The Lord is praised,’ laughed my Australian teacher. ‘Now you understand how to upshift,’ said Kiwi, ‘but if you suddenly need to slow down, you do not want your engine to die on you, because then the brake system fails,, powerbrakes hey, the steering will conk out as well.’ 'Do you understand!' ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I do not hear you,’ cried Kiwi. ‘Yes,’ I shouted. ‘Good, the downshift is harder because when you're with 10 tons of cargo and you don’t get this pile of junk in the right gear because the revs bounce back than you are charging down the hill in neutral. YOU SHOULD AVOID THAT. ‘I got the picture. ‘So there are 20 combinations without split shift,’ Kiwi said, raising his voice. . ‘I do not know what split shift is,’ I shouted over the roaring engine. ‘Look anyway,’ Kiwi, cried, ‘ on the little poke you see a mushroom-shaped button, it fits under the switch and your middle finger under your index finger, listen to what I say, this is important, that's the split shift. Every gear has got a high and a low version, push the button under the switch and you go in low, then push it in properly, gear. How many combinations, ‘he cried. ‘My God, 40 combinations,’ I shouted back.


‘Then I will now show you something that might come in handy,’ said Kiwi. ‘ And he touched a lever at the steeringwheel, ‘that's the airbrake, he said, do not touch that while driving because you’ll leave long skid marks on the deck and you'll probably skid off the road, you just peel off tires, '' So always use the air brake wisely, yes? ‘ ‘Okay,’ I cried. We came to a stand still. ‘ Note here comes the Kiwi trick. ‘ He put the pokes in 3 ... 4 high, hit the gas and let the clutch out, we went on smoothly. ‘This is a slap beast motor, you can when you're empty drive away in fifth gear. On a flat road, you can pull away loaded, but if the road rises slightly then there is no escape, you have to upshift. The wear on the clutch is huge but it is not my truck and in a few weeks, I am far away. I'll show you, you know? ‘ ‘Yes,’ I said. So we drove that day through the province and I had to look and shout to Kiwi which gear he needed to shift to. At the end of the day he was reasonably satisfied.

The work gave you a lot of freedom, but it was very heavy, you were on your own and although you had  a loaded truck, which was ready to be driven away, with a stack of freight bills, you had ten tons to unload with your co-driver, manually, and sometimes you had to bring the materials 2 or 3 high in flats under construction.

At the end of the day when we again drove into the yard Kiwi said, 'I'll show twice how you put the truck in a loading dock and I'll tell you when, as I do it, how I do it and then it is up to you to show me that you're not a moron. Take enough distance, you have two mirrors, take  a fixed point in the mirror and put it in line with your left rear tyre  ,. then you pivot, you don’t take your eye off  the fixed spot, am I talking too fast? ‘ ‘No,’ I said, 'I follow you. ‘ He put the truck in twice, perfectly. He pulled it out again and killed the engine. ‘Okay big boy,’ he laughed, ‘your turn.’ I looked at the mirror and took a fixed point. I kept my eye in the mirror aimed at the rear wheel and slowly, sweating profusely and biting my bottom lip  because of the effort I steered the colossus closer and closer to the dock. I pivoted the left rear wheel and slid into the dock. I stopped, I had not looked at how deep it was to the loading platform. ‘That was not bad,’ said Kiwi, ‘but is far removed from the platform. That is what a co-driver is for, if you have any doubts, he guides you inside. He should always be seen in line with your rear tyre in the mirror, Okay? ‘ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Good.’ Kiwi smiled, ‘tomorrow is another day, we'll punch out.’

San Daniel  2015

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