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.