Today we hired this ute and drove down to the suburbs to help my Dad move around some furniture. My Dad has a new, enormous 52 inch TV, so he needed to make space for it. My sister got a lovely display cabinet and a few other items, and Nick got a leather recliner chair for his bedroom that is more comfortable than any bed I have ever slept in. I am, in fact, thinking of sleeping in that chair from now on.
My Dad got a quote from a professional removalist who said it would cost five hundred dollars to move all the stuff around. There were less than ten items all up and no fridges, pianos or boxes of encyclopedias so we all thought the quote was tantamount to daylight robbery.
So we hired a ute for the day for $75.00 and moved it all ourselves.
Driving in a ute along the highway is a very funny experience. A lot of people speed past you, many try and avoid you but just as many when they have a look at you and see you are a mother, father and son laughing because they are being bounced around so much by the ute’s shocking suspension, wave at you, or beep the horn or try and engage you in conversation at the lights.
There is also an unspoken code of solidarity that develops between you and the other ute or van drivers. You are acknowledged at the lights or along the highway by these other drivers. By the time we got to my Dad’s house we had the baseball cap tilt we used to greet the other ute drivers down pat.
When you drive a ute that is obviously being used to move things you develop a VIP status in the eyes of other drivers. When we stopped to get some gas a number of people asked us what the roads were like today or asked us directions. How much we charged. We were even asked for a weather forecast. Winds light to variable, we replied.
Sometimes there are days that make you sigh as they start, as you imagine the physical work, the possible logistical problems involved. It is a pleasant surprise when those days run smoothly, when you feel like a well-honed cog in a machine, doing your part as you should, gliding effortlessly through the day.
Nothing went wrong.
The furniture fitted.
It wasn’t scratched.
Nothing was broken.
Nothing was left behind.
Gratitude was expressed.
Nothing went wrong.
So we drove back home, squealing as we leaned around corners, chanting I think I can, I think I can as we crawled up hills, tipping our caps to fellow ute and van drivers as we did so.
As we ate our fish and chips after a day of intensive physical work we pondered what it must be like to spend each day battling the Sydney roads as a professional driver of some sort – back and forth, back and forth. Lifting and hauling. At war with the heat and the dust. Driving so long and so often that even in dreams all you see is an endless stream of traffic.
And we decided that in spite of our successful run, our laughs over the terrible suspension, and the experience of ute driver solidarity; we could only be removalists for just one day.