The Biggest Truck in the Yard

January 17, 2011 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Harry the Haul Truck was the biggest truck in the coalyard. While all the other trucks could carry 60 tonnes of coal, Harry could carry 80 tonnes, a fact he never let the other trucks forget.

“Look how many trips you all have to make,” he would laugh as they carried coal from the mine to the stockpile, “I only have too make half as many trips as you lot to carry the same amount!”

“You only carry one-third more than us,” another young truck called Gloria would reply, “and you take longer because of the extra weight, so stop bragging.”

Harry didn’t like Gloria very much.

Most of the other trucks were older than Harry and would studiously ignore his boasting, however Gloria and Harry had come to the yard at about the same time.

At first Harry had thought they could be friends, however Gloria’s inability to take note of his obvious superiority had put paid to that idea.

Still, Gloria seemed to get along well with all the other trucks, while Harry often felt like an outcast. None of the other trucks really seemed to talk to him, unless it was related to work.

Although they tried to ignore Harry’s bragging, he did get on the nerves of the older trucks, and they secretly enjoyed it when Gloria put him back in his place.

But one day, Harry went too far.

“Boy,” he said, “if I carried as little as all of you do I don’t think I’d even bother coming to work at all – what’s the point when you do so little?”

All of the trucks within earshot stopped and looked at each other as he talked. Gloria, who could never hold back where Harry was concerned, spoke up.

“You know Harry, if you spent half as much time working as you do talking about how much work you do, you’d probably get twice as much done,” she said.

Harry didn’t entirely understand what she had said, but he knew he had been insulted and he didn’t like it.

“Well,” he began indignantly, but he was cut off by Heather, the matriarch of the coal yard.

“For goodness sake Harry, be quiet!” she snapped.

Harry fell quiet – he had never heard Heather speak to anyone that way before.

Sulking, he turned and trundled back towards the mine.

“Why are they all so mean to me?” he thought, “I bet they’re just jealous because I can carry so much more than them.”

Wrapped up in his self-pity, Harry worked even slower than usual, but the other trucks were so pleased to finally have some peace and quiet they said nothing.

At first Gloria was happy to have finally put Harry in his place, but as his silence stretched on throughout the day she began to worry.

“I must have really upset him,” she thought.

“I didn’t mean to, I just wanted him to stop being so rude. Perhaps I should go and apologise.”

After the work day was over Gloria went to talk to Harry. After some searching she found him sitting in a corner of the yard alone.

“Harry,” she said tentatively as she approached, “I’m really sorry I was nasty to you earlier. I didn’t mean to snap at you, I just get upset because…”

“It’s fine,” Harry said brusquely, cutting her off, “I can’t blame you for being jealous.”

“Jealous?” Gloria replied, her eyes glinting dangerously.

“Just because you’ll never be able to haul as much coal as me is no reason to be mean though,” he continued as Gloria fumed.

“So I’ve decided to leave,” he said.

“I’m going to join one of the bigger yards where I will fit in. There’s no use being a King Salmon in a pool of minnows, I need to be with my own kind. I know it will be hard for you, you’ll all have to work a lot harder without me, but I’m sure you’ll be ok.”

By now, Gloria was filled with a white hot rage.

“JEALOUS!” she said again, “why would I be jealous of someone as rude and arrogant as you are! We all work just as hard as you, and we do it without needing to brag all the time! If you think those bigger trucks will like you any better than we do then go ahead and leave, but we are not the problem here!”

On that, she turned and stormed away, her tyres slipping slightly in her anger. Harry was left bewildered.

“Girls,” he thought to himself, “they can be so silly sometimes.”

The next day, bright and early, Harry set off to find a bigger coalyard to work in.

Out of the truck yard, past the deep, dark mine he trundled. He sailed alongside the coast and glided through twisting forests until he reached the next town, where there were several coal mines of varying sizes.

Rolling up to the largest of them, Harry felt instantly at home. Looking down on the mine he saw large trucks rolling to and from the stockpile, their engines producing a strong, steady growling sound that he found oddly comforting.

Harry located the coalyard and rolled up to the supervisor there, who was directing the flow of traffic via a handheld radio.

“Excuse me,” he said politely.

“What?” the supervisor asked abruptly, turning to face him.

“Well, you see, I was hoping to join your coalyard” he replied awkwardly, taken aback by the woman’s tone.

The supervisor looked him up and down rapidly.

“No,” she said.

“No?” Harry replied, confused.

“No,” the supervisor said again, “you’re too small. What are you, 80 tonnes? We have a minimum requirement of 100 tonnes. Sorry lad, can’t help you,”

With that, the woman turned her back and went back to her job.

Harry left, crestfallen. He had not expected such a hostile reception.

“Too small,” he thought to himself, “I’ll show her who’s too small.”

But he got the same response at the next coalyard, and the next one and the next one, until finally there was only one left.

It was already dusk when Harry rolled his weary way into the last coalyard in town. It was a small place, quite dusty and dirty looking, and the trucks there were quite a bit older than Harry.

Harry approached the site foreman timidly, steeling himself for another rejection.

“Excuse me,” he said, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but I was wondering whether you would have any positions available for me? I know I’m quite small, but I can work very hard, and I would very much like to work here.”

The foreman was a weather-beaten man in his fifties. He had been working in the coalyard for a very long time, and though he was passionate about his job he had become worn down over time as he struggled to maintain the yard.

But he was a kind man, in spite of his troubles, and Harry’s dejected demeanour spoke to him.

He considered Harry’s question carefully, then responded “I don’t see why not”.

“You- you don’t?” asked Harry uncertainly. He had been preparing for another knock-back.

“No,” the foreman said kindly, “we could use some fresh blood around here. You can take the spare stall to your right; it’s a bit crowded, but you’ll fit. I’ll see that it gets cleared out in the morning.”

Overjoyed, Harry babbled his thanks and trundled off to get a good night’s sleep before his first day of work on the new coal yard.

The next morning Harry awoke early, after a slightly uncomfortable night. The stall he had been given was evidently in use as a storage room, and he had had a rather disgruntled tractor poking him in the back for most of the night.

Still, he was grateful to have been given a chance, and was eager to prove himself. He trundled out of his stall and over to a group of large 100 tonne trucks gathered in the centre of the yard.

“Good morning!” he said cheerily.

Not many responded, the ones who did merely grunted. These trucks were older than Harry, and hardened. They valued hard work and didn’t tend to waste time on chit-chat.

Harry felt a little underwhelmed by their reception, but he didn’t have long to dwell on it. The supervisor approached briskly to start their day off.

“Alright you lot, you know what to do,” he shouted as he walked up, “get to it!”.

The trucks rumbled contentedly in response and rolled off towards the coal pit, forming a line as they went.

Harry stayed put; he was not entirely sure that he did know what to do.

The supervisor saw his hesitation and stopped.

“Not sure what to do?” he asked in his kind but brusque manner.

“N-” Harry began.

“The coal pit’s down that way, wait your turn then get under the conveyor belt,” the supervisor continued before Harry could finish.

“It spits out 20 tonnes at a time, you stay under there for four lots to make up your 80 tonnes – the 100 tonne trucks need five lots of course – then make your way up to the processing centre and dump it there. Just follow the other trucks and you’ll figure it out soon enough.”

He gave Harry a slap on the side and walked away.

Harry turned and made his way down the decline to the coal pit, where a conveyor carried the black rocks from deep within the mine to the surface.

At its exit from the mine the conveyor turned over, dropping the coal into the truck waiting below, before making it’s way slowly back into the mine.

Harry joined the queue of trucks waiting patiently for their turn. They were silent, eyes forward, focused on the job at hand. Harry felt a moment of sadness, missing the jovial chatter of the trucks at his old yard. But clearly this was the way big trucks like him were supposed to behave. Their silence must mean they were very hard workers indeed.

Finally the truck in front of Harry received her load of coal and rumbled back up the decline. Roaring into action, Harry moved forward to his spot. Waiting, he counted carefully as he felt the coal dropping from above. One lot, two lots, three lots, four lots!

Eager to get moving, he started up as soon as the last load fell and began the trip back up to the top.

But this mine was bigger than he was used to, and a lot steeper too. It took him quite a while to get up to the top and drop the car off at the stockpile for processing, and he found that he couldn’t go all that much faster than the other trucks after all.

As the day wore on, Harry grew more upset. With the silence of the other trucks he had plenty of time to think, and his thoughts were not pleasant.

“All of these trucks are so big and hard-working, however can I keep up?” he thought.

“I came here because I thought I could do better in a bigger coalyard, but what if I’m just not good enough?”

He was very worried that after giving him a chance the supervisor would tell him he was no longer welcome.

Then, slowly, a plan started to form. It was not a good plan, in fact it was a very silly one, but in his panicked state Harry was unable to see sense.

“I bet I could carry more,” he thought, “If I could carry as much as the other trucks they’d have to keep me here!”

He was so lost in his thoughts he almost forgot to move forward in time for his next turn under the conveyor. Overseeing operations from afar, the supervisor started to grab his radio to urge Harry forward, but Harry gave himself a shake and rolled forward.

The supervisor breathed a sigh of relief. Any dropped coal would delay operations and take time and money to clear up.

Under the conveyor, Harry waited while the first load fell. Then came the second, the third and the fourth. Still Harry waited.

Watching closely, the supervisor was concerned.

“Harry,” he called into his radio, “move on”.

But Harry did not move. The conveyor rolled on, bringing the next load.

“Harry, your turn is over – move forward!” the supervisor said urgently.

It was too late. The next load came tumbling down. Harry could definitely feel the extra weight, but it didn’t seem to be too much more pressure than his normal load.

“I suppose one more couldn’t really hurt,” he thought, and stayed under the conveyor.

Now the supervisor was very worried. He knew trucks could be damaged by overloading. Calling a four wheel drive over he began to make his way down the decline, calling for the operators to stop the conveyor belt. But he was too late.

The next load came, dropping into Harry’s tray.

This time, he could definitely feel the difference. As the first coal rained down, Harry felt the pressure building. His sides ached and his axles groaned. Just when he thought he couldn’t bear it any more, POP! POP! POP! POP! Whooooossssshhhh! His tyres popped one by one and deflated beneath him.

The conveyor belt groaned to a halt as the supervisor pulled up and jumped out of the car.

“Harry!” he shouted, “what happened? Didn’t you hear me on the radio?”

Harry stared at the ground. He had heard the supervisor, but had ignored him. All of a sudden he felt very silly indeed.

“I’m sorry,” he said humbly, staring at the ground.

Sighing, the supervisor turned away and ordered coal to be diverted to a second conveyor. He and the other trucks moved to the second collection point, and Harry was left to wait by himself.

After a very long wait, Harry heard a loud grumbling noise. A much larger truck, wide enough to take up the full two-way haul road, was making its way slowly down the decline, followed by a bulldozer.

When it eventually reached him, the large truck grinned.

“Hello chum,” he said jovially, “got yourself into a spot of bother?”

Harry just grunted. He was not in the mood for such cheeriness, but this did not seem to affect the other truck. Still grinning, he turned and lowered his ramp for Harry.

The bulldozer, giving a very loud grunt (which Harry did not appreciate), pushed Harry slowly forward onto the ramp.

The large truck lifted the ramp and Harry was secured into place with large chains.

“Off we go then,” the large truck said, “Mind you keep your eyes open. There’s plenty of nice scenery along the way – as long as you like red dirt, that is.”

He chortled at his own joke. Harry stayed silent, lost in his thoughts.

At the repair yard, Harry was offloaded and left to wait for the engineers to come and fix him up. As he waited, he heard a familiar voice behind him.

“Harry?” the voice said curiously.

Harry turned as much as he could, to see Heather from his old coalyard.

“Oh… hi Heather,” he said miserably.

“Harry,” Heather said again, although this time there was concern in her voice, “what on earth have you done?”

Harry paused for a moment, not wanting to admit that he had been wrong. But looking at Heather’s kindly face, he couldn’t hold back.

Shamefaced, he told her the whole story – how he was turned away from all but one coalyard, how he worried so much about keeping up. He told her about his foolish plan and how he took on so much coal that his wheels burst.

As he finished his story, Heather let out a peal of laughter.

Harry, startled from his misery at last, looked up at her.

“Oh… oh Harry , you poor silly thing,” she said, tears of laughter pouring down her face, “you always were so funny!”

“Funny?” Harry asked, confused.

“Oh yes, all of your ‘I’m so big, look what I can do’, and then… and then… to POP YOUR TYRES!” Heather was laughing so hard now she could barely speak.

“Harry,” she said as she calmed down, “we’ve missed you at the coalyard. Do come back!”

“You’ve missed me?” Harry asked, surprised. “I wasn’t very, well… nice to you all. I bet Gloria wouldn’t want to see me again.”

“You weren’t that bad, you could be very nice when you weren’t blowing your own horn. Gloria misses you too, you know, it was nice for her to have someone her own age. If you don’t want to come back I understand, but we’d all love to see you.”

Harry wasn’t entirely sure he believed her, but he did miss everyone at the old coalyard. The next day when the supervisor came to see him, he knew what to do.

“I’m very sorry for what I did,” Harry told the supervisor humbly.

“It was very silly and it made things harder for everyone at the coalyard. I would very much like it if you could pass my sincere apologies on to them all.”

“Couldn’t you do it yourself?” the supervisor asked curiously.

“Well, yes, I could come by and see them on my way home,” Harry replied. “You see, I really appreciate the opportunity you gave me at your coalyard, but I realise now that I don’t fit in there. I was happy at my old yard, I was just too silly to see it.”

The supervisor was impressed with Harry’s honesty.

“Of course mate, of course,” he said warmly, “but we would love to see you before you head back. After all,” he gave Harry a sidelong look, “you’ve certainly given us a story we’ll never forget!”

Harry blushed and looked away, embarrassed but amused at the fuss he had caused.

A week later, his wheels all patched up and his heart much lighter, Harry went home. He stopped along the way to say hello to the bigger trucks, who couldn’t help but crack a smile. Harry was glad he had made them laugh, even if it was at their expense.

Then he trundled off home again.

As he pulled into the coalyard, he was delighted to hear the sound of trucks laughing and chatting. He had missed this place, and all of the trucks in it, very dearly. Then, all of a sudden, a shriek came from across the yard.

“HARRY!” Gloria shouted, “YOU’RE BACK!”

Revving her engine, she roared across the yard towards him, stopping just close enough to give him a playful bump.

“Hi Gloria,” Harry grinned.

“So how’d you go with the big trucks?” Gloria asked, a mischievous grin on her face.

“Oh, you know, it was great and all,” Harry replied airily, “but I couldn’t bear to think of you all here without me to shoulder the load.”

And with that, Harry and the other trucks burst out laughing.

Harry went to bed with a big smile on his face that night. It was nice to finally feel included by the other trucks, and all it took was for him to get out of his own way.
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