Do you need a break? Are you like me, trying to avoid the news because it is the same news all the time? It seems to me like it has been the same news cast for the past two years! Man, oh Man, I need a break from it all and perhaps you do too. So, this month let’s keep it light and fun. Stay with me here as I am going to go back into my mind and think about my driving days. What did I love about being a truck driver? If some of the things I like and remember are similar to your memories, then please let me know.
My first great memory is the sensation of ‘being alone’! Yeah, I really liked being alone, doing my job and having no one to look over my shoulder. The sun would be shining through the windshield, the music was blaring (yes, my favourite tunes) and I didn’t have a care in the world – or so it seemed. It was joyous! Even if my day started out terribly, the sunshine and the music would immediately lift my spirits. Sometimes I long for those days.
The second thing I remember with great joy and a smile on my face is ‘going for a beer’. Does it still happen today like in my day? Thursdays were always payday and if I happened to be at the terminal on a Thursday evening, somebody would say “let’s go for a beer”. And I was frequently willing. I loved the camaraderie of my fellow drivers while at some local bar swapping stories. Somehow, truck stops weren’t quite the same for storytelling as being in a bar. At the bar, the stories seemed grander and larger than life when told while the music was blasting away. We had fun (and no, I didn’t drink and drive). Believe it or not, the summer that I’m remembering, I didn’t own a car and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was on strike. I would ride my bicycle to work and home again. And of course, I would only have one or on a rare occasion two beers before I left. After all, I had a family waiting for me at home.
My third great memory was ‘the work’ itself. The type of truck driving that I did was very physical – all the freight had to be touched by hand. And during the many hours that summer, it was hot and dirty work. And today I look back at it and think, “man, I was in good shape”. Yes, I didn’t sit behind the steering wheel for long hours at a time like many of you. I would drive for an hour or two and then get out and do my pick-ups and deliveries. Yes, it was hard work and yet, somehow, I found it very rewarding. I was proud of my job and of being a truck driver.
OK now, here’s my last fond memory. Reading a map book. Yes, I know you probably can’t relate. In my day, the dispatcher would give you a pile of paperwork that included all your pick-ups and deliveries for that route. You then took the paperwork to a quiet area in the warehouse and started looking up the addresses – one by one. You would find where the address was and then in your mind’s eye, you would try and figure out how to get from point A, then to point B, then to C and D. I was exercising my mind with every dispatch. It was great mental stimulation. And then another driver would come over and beg me to help line up their load if they were going into an area that I knew. We always helped each other. I remember those days with a smile.
Thinking of this was a nice reminder of the beginning of my career. I remember caringly, my supervisor, David Baptiste. He was the man who gave me my first promotion. He was the one that saw something in me that others never saw. So, I remember David with kindness.
So now it’s your turn. Send me an email with what you love about your truck driving job.
Stay safe out there.
Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.