With enormous tyres the height of my chest and sporting eight tonnes worth of steel, engine and diesel, the Volvo L50 off-road forklift is one of the colossal giants in the armed forces. From afar it’s an adorable hippopotamus-like machine and in the training circuit, it’s as if a herd of steel hippos are going back and forth, grazing on oil drums.
Having no prior driving experience (except when I was 7 years old when I crashed my mum’s car), I think its a sort of personal achievement to have been able to master this gargantuan and yet highly precise monster in just a mere four days. Especially alongside other trainees from transport battalions and tank brigades who have been driving for years and have even Class 5 heavy vehicle licenses. Now armed with this license, I think I can finally be a more useful member of my army unit. Intriguingly, my forklift instructor who kept calling me by the name of “Hossan”, remarked that my unit has the greatest concentration of forklift gaoshou (Mandarin for highly adept experts) in the SAF, which is probably true by what I’ve seen in my two months of service in the underground ammo facility. He also, on the second day of the course, expounded that it was an absolute taboo to stack the palletised practice loads in the wrong number sequence.
In Hokkien, he exclaimed, “The last time that happened, there was an earthquake in Sabah!”