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Letting the Driftwood Go

I had a phone call today. Surprising really, from an old friend with whom I drove with previously when I was with him at the same company. He asked me how I was, and after some idle chit chat he got straight down to business. He wanted to know if we were busy? I answered his question with a “yes, we are so busy that there is only 1 truck left unmanned”. I then proceeded to ask him why but honestly I already knew the answer and it came as no surprise that he was interested in coming back to work for the outfit I am currently with. There was only one problem with that. He had been let go due to health problems with the company owners fearing he would have a heart attack behind the wheel, secondly he was let go because he damaged too much equipment and thirdly he was let go because quite frankly there were too many complaints over the length of time he took to complete assignments and he was caught sleeping around the corner from some of them. This was no case of being overworked, this quite simply was a driver who was tired from being unhealthy and overweight. I told him to phone the boss but in my heart I knew the answer to his question. I’ll follow up with this.

You see I felt sorry for the guy, my boss who has known him for a long time felt sorry for the guy, but the problems he caused and the fear of future problems were just too much. Further to this, this gentleman went to another company driving locally and ran a brand new Volvo tractor into a parked set of Super B’s. That job lasted all of two weeks. Then he started a third job which I heard about through another co-worker. That job didnt last much longer I assume either because in his call he told me that he hit another truck in this new job and said they were not pleased with him. Of course I wasn’t really shocked as much as if it had been someone who was accident free for a long period of time.

The bottom line to this article is that companies will usually always give drivers a try, but in the end, if you can’t live up to the standards of being a professional driver and avoid hitting things, or having customer complaints, or sleeping unnecessarily when there is work to do, those companies like any company in the work force will be forced to set the Driftwood free or in this case my friend who could not avoid hitting other vehicles or objects with a truck with three different companies.

driftwood

It’s a sad affair really but when companies let the Driftwood go they weed out those drivers who hold everyone else back in pay raises when there are claims against the company. The driftwood creates tension when they only want to work in town and everyone has to share the workload even doing a Kelowna or a Princeton trip in the day. The Driftwood gives customers the thought that the company has a poor image or that the company is poorly run or that all the drivers are bad drivers. Thus when companies let Driftwood go, it may or may not be your friend with whom you trucked with, and as callous as this may sound it is for good reason.

I hope my friends and readers that you rise above being driftwood and are professional drivers. Keep on trucking and keep it sunny side up.

Oh and before I go check out these cameras from this company on Facebook where they have a sweet little giveaway going on. They may even save you from being called Driftwood one day or save you from someone saying you were at fault!  Thanks for reading.

https://www.facebook.com/PAPAGOInc

http://us.papagoinc.com/spring-mega-giveaway/

 

Proper Pretrips Are A Necessity

It’s been said time and time again. Proper pretrips are a necessity. From driving instructors when you attended driving school to the company you work with, to the D.O.T. or C.V.S.E. Regardless of where you heard it from there is a necessity for it. Pretrips are there to save your life or to save the life of the motoring public. Without it, you face fines or even criminal charges if there is an accident and you are found negligent.

One can only surmise how many actual trucks are running day and night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The number is vast, hug and can be quantified but the number is massive. Each day these trucks are on the road there is a potential for a safety defect, a problem occurring, a crash or even worse a fatality. Not every accident is rosy but each accident is preventable in some form or another and that includes doing pretrips as part of your due diligence.

Over the course of the years I have witnessed countless accidents, not as a first responder but always the aftermath and sometimes the aftermath is not so pretty. One can only imagine the horrifying details of what actually occurred or how the driver felt when it occurred.  I don’t have many pictures to show for these accidents but suffice to say I am glad I do not. However one this is for sure, sometimes your cargo is more precious than you realize and it only takes a second to lose it all.

This is my precious cargo on many of my trips

precioussonpreciousdaughter

morningfresh

As the name morning fresh on the above Air Freshener belies in my truck. I am sure the truck that rolled was anything but “Morning Fresh”.

rollin

 

One can only surmise this drivers thoughts as he rolled it over.

Im not going to preach on and on about pretrips but if you do not do pretrips. I will leave you with some friendly advice. If you don’t do pretrips and you drive a truck. Your setting yourself up to get a good bite or to get bitten one day.

gettinbit

As always friends. Take care, drive safe and remember even if you dont carry your little ones with you on road trips, there are certainly millions of other road users who do and your pretrip may mean the difference between them going home to their loved ones.

 

 

Questions about Foreign Workers

I get asked often through Facebook Messages from drivers in other countries about Foreign Workers and hiring and I will try to answer some questions if I can. Just remember I am certainly no lawyer and I cannot speak for the companies I list in this post with any certainty. This is just a rough guideline and a general idea

THE COMPANIES

There are many companies in Canada who have turned to the Foreign Worker Program under the Canadian Immigration Act. There are many reasons but the single most compelling that come arises is worker shortage for those positions. Surprisingly it is not just in the trucking business that foreign workers are hired. In some places within Canada foreign workers are brought in to work service industries like McDonalds and Tim Hortons. In other areas workers are brought in to work Garment manufacturing and in others still there is Health Care workers. However, another area which has seen and will continue to see a shortage of skilled workers is the transportation industry as the driver.

Some reasoning is two fold. One the current worker population is aging and secondly the current trend is taking people away from trucking because of the huge undercutting of wages and disproportionate rate of work or living away from home to wages. Which other job “legally” allows workers to be forced to worked 70 hours in a week but only paid for 40? With this example, is it any wonder the younger generation stays away from trucking.

The bottom line though is that freight is continual. It never ends just like the world has gone on before us and will go on after us, freight will continue to move. The companies that are entrenched in this movement predicted this movement and have built up respectable, decent sized companies who need drivers to fill their equipment. Some such companies are H & R Transport, Kindersley Transport (HWT), Kelsey Trail Transport, Yanke, Bison and Challenger Motor Freight. Of course there are many others and not mentioning them here doesnt take away the fact that they hire foreign workers and the ones I have listed here is by no means any endorsement for them or their particular brand/equipment. I am just simply mentioning off the top of my head.

 

H & RKindersley KelseyBison Challenger Yanke

 

Please note that all these images were gathered from Google Image search and all are protected by the respective companies trademark laws and copyrights.

THE WORKER

Most overseas workers who are coming in to fill these positions have some experience. The experience they have will be in their own countries. They will be running containers in Asia or they will be running European highways and roads familiar with Ice/Snow and traffic jams. They will be workers who are motivated to looking for a challenging change which is certainly what moving to an entirely new country and driving the highways here is. For some workers who have been hired from the Phiippines the climate is certainly a huge adjustment factor especially during the first few snow falls in Canada. The workers who are brought here already have the experience at driving (we hope), they already bring with them skills at negotiating corners, turning backing up and other basics. All that remains is for a company to show interest in them, hire them, do the overseas foreign worker hiring paperwork and immigration paperwork, fly them to Canada, give them a road test on Canadian soil with the driving instructors from the Province in which they will be home based and kick them out the door. Literally. The contracts are usually 3 years and after 2 years a worker can apply for a permanent residency. (during this time they must also apply for an extension of their work permit in case the permanent residency takes longer than their permit is valid for, otherwise the work permit runs out and they have to go home and re-apply all over again).

WHERE TO APPLY

Many of these companies that I listed previously have a contact in a number of countries already. The Philippines and United Kingdom seem to be the haunting grounds of the Foreign Worker hiring. Thats not to say that they will not hire workers from India or other places, but traditionally the 2 above fore-mentioned places are the scope of their operations. If you are interested in being hired as a foreign worker, there are a number of places you can check for more information. You can contact the Canadian Embassy in your country, you can contact the companies on their websites or through Facebook pages. It is a slow process and not one that you apply for and 2 weeks later your in a truck. In some cases it can take upwards of one to two years before you ever get a working Visa to work in Canada. But the benefits far outweigh the waiting process.

While no doubt there is far more information to consider than what I have posted here, I hope you get the idea and sense of how to go about being hired as an overseas foreign worker. I wish you luck, safe travels and happy trucking.

 

 

 

 

 

020_20A

 

Trucker

Travels of a Trucker Giving Thanks

My family and I have not celebrated our Thanksgiving as so many others already have. As a matter of fact we are celebrating our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with a roast of Ham, Yam and Potato Bake and Brussel Sprouts with a Cheese Sauce followed by Pumpkin and Apple Pies. Sound good??? I can’t wait! But really it isn’t all about the food although with each Holiday it does certainly feel like it. Every year we have typically hosted another family and had Turkey or Whole Chickens. This year was different in that we are celebrating as a family and not inviting guests over. It’s our way to celebrate our own family and give thanks for what we have quietly this year and reminding ourselves that things could be much worse.

This have not always been easy. Much like many  my wife and I started from scratch. The only difference is that I am alienated from my family and have never had any resources to fall back on. If for example, I couldn’t pay the rent, I have no mom and dad or Aunts and Uncles to run to and ask for money.  My wife of course being from another country had no relatives here in Canada. So our first couple of married years were a rough go. At one point we barely had enough money to buy a can of formula for our baby. However, through the years with my wife scrimping and saving money and both of us having decent/semi-decent jobs, things have gotten a lot better. Of course our family circle has gotten bigger with the addition of a second child and the sponsorship of her Mom and Brother from the Philippines. However, overall it has been a good 9 years of marriage after the first 2.

We are reminded consistently of other’s misfortunes when we go to Tim Hortons and someone is standing there begging. We are reminded of other’s misfortunes when we go to Superstore and someone is sitting on the ramp looking for handouts. We are reminded of misfortunes when we drive down the road and people are pushing shopping carts with all the possessions they have in the world stacked within it. Of course we are absolutely grateful our lives have turned out. We have 2 vehicles, we own a house, we both have decent jobs/careers and we have our health overall.

I have to give particular thanks to the trucking industry for without it, I don’t think our lives would have been successful. Without trucking no matter how much I bitch, whine, moan about work, it has paid the bills. My wife on the other hand is the true bread winner of the family and her career no matter how many jobs I’ve been through in trucking has been the rock of our family nucleus. Without her job stability and career I can honestly say we would be in real trouble.

So I do give thanks to my wife. I give thanks to the trucking community. I give thanks to the fellow drivers whom I have had the pleasure of meeting no matter which job I was at. Places like Sunrise Live Haul where I had the opportunity to meet Dean and Carl. Places like Russell Freightways where I met Terry and his wife. Places like Cham Transport where I met Najam and even places like Posse Transport with bosses there like Mo Davidson. I give thanks to my fellow drivers out there pounding the road like Byron. I also give thanks to fellow drivers like Ice Road Trucker Drew Sherwood who shows that there is life outside trucking. Highway Thru Hell stars Adam Gazzola, Ken Monkhouse and Jamie Davis who although I have not met them personally are friends on Facebook and remind me consistently week after week that I am not alone in the trucking industry and there is always someone driving or someone who is having a worse day than I.

Finally I give thanks to all my friends on Facebook who are and share in my passion of Sweepstakes/Contests. I have met so many of you and each meeting is a joy in my heart that you are a real person on the other end and not some fictitious account set up to manipulate. It’s always weird at first thinking that someone may be real but after meeting so many of you I know that you are all real people with problems, hopes, dreams, fears and lives much like my own.

I salute you all and Thank you all for touching my life in some special way!

Thanks for reading and have a safe Thanksgiving Weekend and a safe Columbus Day no matter where you are.

Trucker

 

Travels of a Trucker The Life We Lead

Hello friends, followers and fellow truck drivers across the world. I have been taking a hiatus from blogging for awhile. Needed to get my head clear and think of other things for awhile. For me computers, writing and contesting were my life, but I was beginning to find it ever increasingly difficult to keep up with the hectic pace of being a father, working and enjoying my past times so I had to let some of them slide for awhile. I am sure you probably missed some good reading and I think I missed a lot of good storytelling.

What led me to the theme of my blog today was after reading countless articles in Pro Trucker and other trucking magazines and it made me think of this title The Life We Lead. What does the title mean? Well as truckers we always seem to reminisce about good old days but the truth of the matter is there is no more good ol’ days. After reading Pro Trucker for the last few years it has reminded me of old time drivers who keep reliving their past when they should be living for today. It’s all good that they are retired and telling us stories about 40 years ago, but how does it pertain to us now.; The new breed of trucker who is far more independent and a solo act than previous.

It’s the same thing with shows like Highway thru Hell and Ice Road Truckers. 20 years from now, the stars of those shows will be reminiscing about the way things were. Do I agree with this thinking? Definitely not! Let me tell you why.

Trucking is an industry that grows daily. New drivers are pumped out of driving schools. Older drivers are retiring and more businesses and freight are coming on board at a daily rate which is actually outgrowing the average number of truckers which has led us to the current and the ever growing shortage of drivers. As drivers we need to move forward. I liken it to the age of communication. At first there was no communication between drivers. Then there was the CB. A great device which was widely utilized by truckers across North America and I am sure Europe. Then the VHF radio replaced the CB as the method communication, especially on the West Coast. It would be a very rare day to find even one driver using CB in BC or Alberta. Everyone it seems is switching or has switched over to VHF Radio. About the only people still using CB are those who I think are called amateur Ham radio operators whose sole purpose is to be able to chat with others 6000 km away and pumping out as much wattage and getting as much skip as they can in their CB’s which by the way the average person would have no clue how to operate as these are expensive operations. With the equipment they use to get so much skip they may as well be playing records on a radio station.

So back to the point, drivers who are currently in the industry are going to age and of course there is a natural tendency to think about things the way they were and not how they are or how they will be. In other words, reading Pro Trucker magazine, I am a little perturbed that it has become an old driver’s memoir magazine that has nothing really to do with trucking in it’s current state. Let’s be serious…is reminiscing about how a guy drove 30 or 40 years ago going to bring me any newsworthy information about trucking today? I would assume not. Is reading about tales from across the pond or trucking in Scotland providing me any direct benefit about trucking in Canada? I seriously doubt it.  Is a poem written by a truck driver featured monthly going to help me lower my costs in trucking or discussing ways in which to eat healthy? Again I doubt it. So although this may be a blow to Pro Trucker magazine’s ego, it is something which must be said. The bottom line…30 or 40 years even 20 years ago and even 10 years ago have nothing to do with trucking today. Let’s move forward.

So what are the factors that out in the Life We Lead now? How about the facts. Fuel Costs. High Food Prices. Little or no Pullouts for sleeping. Highway Infrastructure. New CVSE regulations. A bears view discussing real law geared to truckers…again not a memoir about how I pulled that 4 wheeler over for impeding traffic…do I really care you pulled that 4 wheeler over? Not really. How does that affect me now? Tell me how your going to enforce the law in your area that pertains to trucks and truckers and I may be more apt to read it. What else can we brainstorm? How about new bridges and tolls. New routes being planned for highway improvements. Weight restricted highways. Safety Blitzes. Stolen Trucks/Trailers Licence plates with pictures. New laws. Chain up laws pertaining to each province. Dates of truck shows. Driving school comparisons for new truckers…and not just about your buddy in Mountain Trucking…I mean a fair cost/Class/Teaching cost breakdown. So since this is the Life We Lead, let’s talk about it more.

Thanks for reading!

 

Trucker

Travels of a Trucker Chicken Haulin Lifestyle

So in the last few months I admit it. I ain’t been nothin but Chicken. Chicken in the night, Chicken in the morning, Chicken for Dinnertime. Lol, Well literally it has been Chicken. I am a Chicken hauler. I typically would not have called myself that but one day about 1 month ago I was at a farm and the Kal-Tire guy called my trailer “a Chicken Hauler”. Would I have called myself that? Probably not. I prefer to think of myself on the much more global grandiose scale as a “livestock hauler”.

But there you have it. I am admittedly a Chicken Hauler. But not just any Chicken Hauler, I am also a professional driver first. Chicken Hauling is just what I happen to haul.  There is a common misconception about Chicken Hauling that may need to be cleared up and I hope to set the record straight. When it comes to Chicken Hauling, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…pun intended.

You see being a Chicken Hauler may be a local job, but the hours are long. My typical shift runs from anywhere from 10-14 hours. I am in and out of the truck all night unhooking the trailer and dropping it on a scale. Re-hooking it up and dropping it in a bay for unloading and then the process repeats itself as I scale a new empty trailer out for the next farm. I repeat this same process up to 9 times a night if I haul 3 loads. Then there is the uncinching of the belts holding the cages onto the deck and re-cinching the cages back onto the deck when it is loaded. Sounds easy until you realize that handling a heavy bar a multitude of times is leading to a tendinitis of the elbow.

Then there is the many farms that need servicing. With a schedule made the week before, and certain times that I have to be at the farm, it is my responsibility to be at the farm for my specified loading time. While at the farm there is another adjustment I must make. I must work in conjunction with the forklift operator to ensure I am set up in the right place properly so he can grab the liners. With each farm we deal with there is a different layout of how we are to set up. Some farms we are required to back into off a road. Other farms we drive into and then back around barns/sheds. Other farms we can drive around thee whole barn. To top this off there is the constant never ending darkness we must fight off since Chicken catching is done primarily at night we have to overcome any obstacles in the dark.

Once we have fought off the darkness, our proper placement, we have other obstacles to overcome. Driveways may be narrow and have ditches on both sides, there may be tight yards to manouever in,  there could be soggy wet ground which has turned to mud with which we have to deal with. Any host of problems could present itself such as truck breakdown, forklift breakdown, small chicken catching crew which extends our already long hours.

Yes being a chicken hauler is definitely not as easy as it may have once sounded. I’m really sorry to dispel any romantic notion or idea about it. One of the pet perks about this job is having to avoid projectile shooting Chickens. These are the chickens who turn their ass to you and like some gun game at the carnival where the target moves, the Chickens try to shoot their crap on you. Many a time I have narrowly avoided having a mess hit me.

But there is a softer side to me which most people don’t see. The runts who have been left behind as being too small are in a no mans land. They are too small for processing. What this means is that they are left behind for the clean up crew to deal with. It is very saddening to see one small runt in a barn which just a few hours ago had 40,000 chickens in it and now it is the only Chicken left to wander around aimlessly. It’s fate bleak on both ends. You see at the processing plant, we all know the fate they would endure. However, at the barn, cold, hungry, no water and now lonely, they are left to their own devices until the clean crew arrives to sanitize and disinfect the barn for the next batch of Chickens. Sadly there is no room for runts as they cannot be mixed with the new batch for bio-security reasons. Thus they will be exterminated by the cleaning crew. I have aided, abetted and assisted many a runt in escaping this fate. Some of them just don’t survive the transition from being in a barn to being my free range bird. I have buried many a Chicken in my backyard already. But many others have successfully transgressed the barrier from Runt to Adult when there is no competition.

There is a short YouTube video I posted of my runt Chickens some of which have grown so big. My plan of course was not to eat them. They are more of a wholistically do good, feel good, experiment rather than food. I carry with me enough death to the Poultry processor that for the few I provide a little shelter, food and water and let them live is by far one of the most gracious acts I could do in this industry.

My only wish is that I would hope some company would read this and provide me with a real coop to house my Chickens in. I do have a shed but it was not designed as a coop. It is drywalled, insulated and has electricity but there is no air at night when I have to lock the Chickens up from predators like the Racoons that frequent our yard. It was my den, but sadly it would need a huge cleaning before that happened again.

So now you understand that Chicken Hauling is not all it is cracked up to be. Thanks for reading.

 

Trucker

 

Trucking Injuries

Trucking Injuries.