Being a dump truck operator in the mining industry does not have to be boring.
If you are yet to break into mining, 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 quickly. It’s all very new and exciting at first, as you are learning the whole way of mining, and how to drive the big trucks. 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, people around you, routines, and even driving trucks will become second nature. Eventually you will feel comfortable, perhaps even comfortably numb?
In a while, and this time changes from person to person, most will start looking for other machines to drive.
“I just want to get on a dozer, grader, digger, shovel-anything I’ve done my time as a Trucki.”
The water cart is usually the next step “up” because as a trucki you are 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 trucki forever, and I was for the longest time, then the GFC Hit.
I just wanted to be the best trucki 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 Global Financial Crisis and heaps of people got put off. People who were “just” a trucki 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 trucki? you’re out!
I was content with being “just” a truckie, but I put my hand up for the grader when it came along, so I could help save my job in the future.
You are told by some of those who don’t drive trucks anymore, that being a trucki is the easiest job, and they don’t even see it as work, real mining. Put one of them back in a truck. Waaaaah!! 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 to get off the trucks.
Everyone wants to be “just” a truckie when its wet. “The others” are out there digging trenches, dozer push, and grading off the mud. Truckies are last to get going. It’s nice to have a rest, or even a sleep, especially on night shift, but it gets bloody boring after 5 days at the crib hut, with the same people and the same magazines being passed around…Groundhog Day!
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 in times of need and thinking the worst thoughts and scenarios can make it an incredibly challenging place to be.
You gotta be here for the big bucks, right? $$$$ Why not plan 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 did 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, but going up and down the same ramp doesn’t have to be as brain numbing as some people make out.
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 and Podcasts that you could put on a USB stick or iPod if your site allows those.
Podcasting is the new big thing, and there many to choose from. Comedy, sports, cars, true crime, even mining. ?I learnt how to be a podcaster in my truck and now I teach others how to do it and have 2 of my own with a 3rd on the way.
If you love music and choose to listen all day to your favourite tunes blast away. But please, still listen to the bloody two way because the Peeps with their music up, not answering is so annoying and unsafe. Funny how they always hear when it’s time to park up though!
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. I was super careful not to leave my USBs in a machine.
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.
- Looking out for wildlife
- Check out the sky. You will see stunning sunsets, sunrises, and stars. The view changes every lap. When you’re 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 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 it’s 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! 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?
Eventually, the time does pass, all 12-13 hours of it.
Pre start, 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 yourself, sing and dance and blink $$$$ signs like many do.
Don’t forget to factor in time to plan what to do with your hard-earned money, whilst you’re at work being a brain-dead truckie earning over 100k per year!
Until next time, stay safe, be real, be special and have fun- for we only live once!
Mad Mumzie (Leanne Drew)
Host of “Beers With a Miner”