Archive for October, 2011

Rant.

OK, I’m more or less a truck driver now. I still struggle with the more difficult reverses, but have the standard one cracked. A few things have come to my attention though. To whit; car drivers.

Not all, obviously. The two main categories are coffin-dodgers and women. Again, not all, but when I’m screaming at some moron I’m about to plough forty tonnes of truck through, it always seems to be one or the other. All the competent women and oldsters want to form vigilante gangs and eradicate those who besmirch your record. For instance, my mother is a woman and an excellent driver, my dad is due for retirement later this year (which, by an arbitrary judgement could have him nudging the ‘oldster’ bracket)  but is a professional driver. So it’s not a sexist or ageist remark. As we know, sweeping generalisations are always wrong, but it just so happens that the conspicuous dickheads are almost without exception from those two categories. With half the country being female, and a growing percentage being elderly it is perhaps not to be remarked upon. But I have. Then, in justification have laboured the point to death. Ho hum.

 

Anyway, that was but a throw-away remark as pre-amble to my main point; ie, Things That Piss Me Off,(Driving Subsection) Volume III, Chapter 134.

1, People entering a motorway off the slip road. You are in a car. The merest dab of the pedal on the right will send you hurtling to the dizzying speed of 57 mph. This is faster than any truck is supposed to be able to go. Therefore, do not tootle down the lane at 45mph and expect to join the motorway. There is a damn good chance there is a car beside, or speeding towards the truck you are suicidaly trying to bully, preventing it from moving out a lane. This leave the trucker with the option of trying to pull up with the momentum of said forty tonnes pushing him (/her) on, or crushing your tiny little car like a beer can and laughing about it all the way home. (OK, that might just be me.)

 

2, If you felt the need to stop on the hard shoulder, illegally, then having resolved the emergency for which you had no choice but to pull over (say, having found little Johnny’s next DVD) and your car then miraculously works fine again, DO NOT sit there, static, with your indicator on. You don’t try and join a motorway at zero mph. Use that lovely hard shoulder that everyone else has left clear for real emergencies, to get up to speed, then merge. You moronic twat!

 

3, People who drive at less than 55mph. Anywhere, really, but particularly on a motorway. Give me your keys and go and stand against that wall. Yes, the one with big posts before it and the pock-marked brickwork.  As for those who drive at 53mph until you are almost on top of them, then as soon as you find a gap and pull out to overtake, speed up… there is a special hell reserved for you, and you will soon be in it if I have my way.

 

4, I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, anyone who says “But you should only be doing 70mph”. No excuses, first against the wall. That has no bearing to my my truck driving as my trucks are limited to 55mph, but on general principle it has to be done. 

 

…And…breathe…in with calm, out with homicidal road rage.

 

So, the driving’s going well.

 

I need to get full time though. It’s shite never knowing what shift or even day you are working. And when you are doing big shifts there is no time to do anything but work, eat and sleep. Still, it’s an ‘in’. I am actually doing the job for which I will be applying when a vacancy arises, can’t get much better than that for on the application form.

I was  mad-busy  last week. 75 hour week. That should be  £600, take home. Which sounds great, but all you do, literally, is work, sleep and eat. I got an early finish the other night, finished for 1, in bed for 1.30 ish, caught up on my sleep so didn’t get up till 10.30,  Wendy cooked me some food as I got a shower and made my butties and such, ate my dinner/ breakfast, had 45 minutes ‘me’ time then off to work again. That was a good day, I got finished early enough to get a decent kip, when I’m doing a full 15 hour shift I can be starting at 1700, finished at 0900, in bed by 0945, awake (can’t sleep) at 1400, back in work, knackered, at 1700.

I remember when I thought I was getting driving with my last works, one of the drivers (who I’d know 20 years previously at Rigby’s Dairy) shook my hand and said “Congratulations, mate. You’re going to fucking hate it!”

Means to an end.

Already I’ve been thinking ‘what can I train to do, now we’ve got all this money coming in?’ Sadly, the answer is ‘nothing.’

 

In passing, let me share with you where we all went wrong.

I was at Gail’s wedding (Wendy’s sister) last week. She had a high-flying nursing job until the Tories came along, now she’s back to standard nursing. So her work guests were from the NHS. I overheard one posh arse say “There are plenty of jobs out there. They are crying out for GP’s. The youngsters just don’t want to train.”

I was gobsmacked!

What kind of rich, privileged background does he come from? What working class kid thinks, ‘tell you what, I’ll become a doctor’? You have to have a wealthy background, with high parental expectation/ drive (to the point of pushy-ness) and a belief culture. For my generation your life was decided at 11 years old. If you failed your eleven plus you were destined to be a working class drone. Working class parents, laissez-faire attitude, you are either clever or you are not. If you’re not there’s nowt wrong with honest labour. Middle class have a whole different attitude. I’ve seen it. Kid struggling with maths? Bring in a private tutor until they passed. Failure not an option.

Then, even if you were pushed and expected to do well all your life, you still have to have the native intelligence and financial backing. What family could support an adult learner for 10 years?

Anyway, if any of you are poor, out of work, or in a dead-end brain-dead job it’s your own fault for not training to be a GP.

No sympathy.

Buck.

Bad day at the office.

Oh dear. What a day.

 

I’ve been working for Stobarts off and on for the last few weeks. I had one bad night with them. I dropped my digital tachograph card (digi-card, the chipped card that records all your driving data) somewhere between the truck and the office. A distance of a hundred yards or less. I spent ages looking for it, back and forth. It was dark and I couldn’t see it. I gave up, saying to the the guy who had been helping me “It must have fallen under one of the trucks. No worries, the lads will hand it in when it gets light.” I had to tell them in the office that  I couldn’t work that night, as you can’t drive without a digi-card.One driver had already gone home that night after losing his. As I was walking out, the chap who’d been helping me said “let’s just have a look in this bin”.

I humoured him, as he tipped it out. There was a digi-card in it, but it was the other lad’s. We went to a bin on the yard and there was mine! Some bastard (s) had seen a card on the floor, knew the consequences for the driver who’d lost it, and deliberately binned it. I was gob-smacked. I would never have looked in a bin because it would never of occurred to me that someone would be such a wanker! And to have possibly two such wankers is beyond my comprehension. On that same night though, the guy who had been helping me look really went out of his way to help me out. There are some outstandingly good people there, but…. well, I’m speechless.

The job itself is as easy as you are going to get for lorry driving. Pick up your keys and a job sheet (with one or two destinations on it).Do your checks on your unit, pick up a trailer then off you trot. Quick nip to, say, Surrey, off the motorway for a few miles, into a big yard. Either get unloaded or swap trailers, then it’s to your next destination and repeat or home. That’s it.

 

They had no work for Stobarts today so they rang me at 10.45 and asked if I could start a job in the next hour. I said I could so they sent me a text saying ‘DHL, Risley, start at 1130’.

Shit! I grabbed my stuff and set off.

 

My first obstacle was there was no DHL at the address they gave me. I went up and down the street twice before asking a lorry driver. He said it had been renamed Yodel. Ah. Thanks for that.

Then there was the unit. It was an old heap. It had a paper tachograph, which I couldn’t understand (so god knows how many hours I drove. I’m only allowed to drive four and a half before taking a forty five minute break, by law.) The automatic gear box was snatchy so I was jerky setting off and trying to reverse. It was horrible. And there was no cigarette lighter socket or USB port into which to plug my truck-nav. Not a good start. Then there was the job itself. Four or five deliveries, around the back streets of Bolton (the first two were). Horrible, horrible. I had to weave in and out of cars parked on either side of back road on a housing estate. In an artic truck.

I did the first drop, eventually. Then set off for the second. The truck-nav had me within two hundred and eighty five feet of the place, but there was no way I could get in. It would have meant turning into a back street with cars parked on both sides. At the turn. It physically wasn’t possible. If I could have started straight on to it I could have got between them but it wasn’t possible to turn ninety degrees into that gap. Because I was down back streets I was having a bit of flap about hitting a dead end. It would not have been possible to turn so I would have had to try and back out. I was having hot sweats even thinking about that. I drove right around my target location but couldn’t find a way in. In the end, with something like joy, I just gave up. I rang the agency and told them I couldn’t get in and was just going to crash if  I tried. I was going back to base.

When I got there, all happy to be going home and putting the ordeal behind me, they said ‘no, you just missed the entrance, it’s here’ and sent me back out again! *sob*

This time I went off their map, not the sat-nav. Guess what?

I got totally lost.

The agency rang me this time and told me to return to base.

I said “I don’t ever want to work for these again.”

They said “They won’t have you back, mate.”

I replied, with feeling; “Good! I hate it!”

 

And that was my day. Awful. Truly confidence shatteringly bad.

Tomorrow I’ll put it behind me and concentrate on Stobarts. I’ll give it until the end of the month on the agency, then apply for a full time job with them.

The only downside with Stobarts, as with any lorry driving job is the length of shifts. The other day I ran out of driving hours (9, extended to 10 twice a week) at Sandbach services, twenty two miles from base. They sent a chap out in a van to drive the truck back. I was waiting for an hour and a half. It meant I did a sixteen and a half hour shift! Now that is a long shift.  (Re-reading it I realize that probably needs some explanation for the maths buffs out there. Ten hours plus one and a half hours do not make sixteen and a half hours you’ll probably have noticed. The thing is; it’s ten ‘driving hours’ you can spend as long as you like waiting around to be unloaded, those hours don’t count.)

Nine hours later I was back at work. That is the way the lorry driving cookie crumbles, though.

Tomorrow is another day.

Later,

Buck.