When you change jobs, move to a new location, or retire, it can often be very hard saying goodbye to your work colleagues and friends.

That is how it was for me when I left the Queensland Public Service in 2007. I wanted to express my thoughts and emotions, thank and honour my colleagues and say goodbye, but in a fun way. I decided to write a poem – an allegory. At the time, I was employed as a Project Manager in the Queensland Department of Main Roads. Hence, the theme of my poem.

If you have ever worked in a bureaucracy, or had much to do with bureaucracies, you will understand the nuances of my poem.

Queensland Main Roads Ipswich Motorway
Ipswich Motorway, connecting the cities of Ipswich and Brisbane



My Main Roads Journey: An Allegory

My Main Roads journey began in April 2006.
I was beckoned from another state-owned and operated highway
By someone called Craig P –
What? From “SP&D”.

I’ve travelled on several Queensland public “roads”
On and off since 1973…
All different
And yet remarkably the same!

When I arrived in April 2006
I was ushered to a waiting room.
Here I sat for several weeks.

Then I was shown a “rental car”
Called “Integrated Business Planning”.
It was part of a huge convoy called SP&D
(What does that stand for? Please tell me again.)

I edged into the front passenger seat
Alongside Sandra P
An experienced Main Roads operator.
She was poised to test-drive a glistening new model
In a convoy called OP&SR
Then I would move into the “Business Planning” driver’s seat.

In those first few weeks
I felt like I was driving down an unknown road
Alone, at night,
Without the headlights on.

Just over 2 months passed
And I found myself leaving one time zone
And entering another.
The clocks were adjusted,
New roads maps distributed.
Some of the road rules changed.
(Not that I had learnt all the old ones, anyway.)

Many of the convoys were reorganised
And lots of drivers switched vehicles.
Some vehicles disappeared off the radar
Never to be seen again.
A few drivers and their passengers abandoned the fleet.
I noticed quite a few coaches on the road
But some were almost empty –
With just a driver and a couple of passengers.
Where was everyone?

There were a few accidents and some close calls.
That’s not surprising really
Given the signage and line-marking was almost non-existent in places.
Was it possible that some of the vehicles
Were headed in the wrong direction?

Playing the number plate game
Departmental acronyms: Playing the “number plate game”?


Playing the “number plate game” many a day
Helped relieve our boredom along the way…
With standard plates like –
And personalised plates like –
And medical-sounding ones like –
There was never a dull moment, come what may.

You could forgive me for getting a little confused
And a bit disoriented along the way.
There was Workout and Rollout
Enabling Business and the Enabling Operations Project
CCD and CP&P
Project Plus
Project Managers’ Status Reports (Oh, no! Not again!)
And (dare I say it?) DocTrak.

I even thought someone said “Roads Alive”
When what they said was “Roads Alliance”.
That’s not the smartest thing to write in an email
To a senior staff member of the “LGAQ” –
You know what I mean?

It was a busy highway.
There were lots of experienced drivers.
(Some soon to become grey nomads?)
Some had been on this highway a long time.
One I got to know had been around 36 years (or is it 37?).
She knows all about the road, the fleet, the drivers…
And being a true “mechanic”
Can fix anything!

Near the front of the fleet
I noticed the odd Rolls Royce –
Probably nine in all,
Some old and worn out, some glistening and new.
The fleet itself was made up of –
Convoys of new and old cars,
Four-wheel drives, coaches and semi-trailers,
Some privately-owned
But quite a few on loan
Or up for rent.

The driver of the lead car in our convoy
Switched several times (Who is that driving now?)
And quite a few of us changed vehicles or seats –
But our convoy maintained its pace and formation
On the corporate six-lane highway.

In my 10 months on this highway,
I have seen many drivers switch cars, convoys or even fleets.
Some arrived, some left.
Others had just a short stint.
Seasoned drivers, P-platers, learner drivers.
I remember Shaun, Mark, Janelle, Leah, Robyn
Barbara, Sandra, Craig, Noel and Matt,
Trudy, Sharon, Kylie, Simone, Ashley
Lili, Ros, Helen and Ruth,
Steve, Elaine, Georgia, and (most recently) Mary.

After 4 months, in August 2006,
I too switched vehicles –
To take over the “Strategic Planning” driver’s seat.

And I must say it was the “car pooling” in
Strategic and Business Planning
That gave me the greatest joy and satisfaction
In this leg of my journey.

The regular “rallies” were always well-organised
Sometimes boring, occasionally inspirational.

The daily “pit-stops” were a highlight:
A very hot regular mocha, a raspberry hot chocolate, a small skinny cap
And the tête-à-tête at Conference 77
Will long be remembered.

The scenery changed just recently.
The change was dramatic –
From grey and dull and dreary
To white and bright and colourful.
The inside temperature changed too –
From cool to cold…
Perhaps that’s due to the higher elevation.

Along the way
I remember many a sunny day
A few cloudy and showery
And a few dark and stormy.

At times, when I was tired or stressed,
(Like all smart drivers)
I pulled over to a rest area.
There I regained my energy and enthusiasm –
Through the encouragement and support
Friendship and comfort
Of colleagues who really cared. (Thank you so much!)

You know, it’s the personal stuff along the way
That really matters
And will be remembered long after
The journey is over.

Robyn and I are now leaving this highway
To venture on roads less travelled.
Different paths –
But each in its own way challenging
Requiring inner strength and courage.

I wish you well
And God’s speed
As you continue Your “Main Roads Journey”.

May we meet again one day – even if it’s at the end of Life’s Journey!


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