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Truckers Help Truckers

JacobHad a problem with my Iphone yesterday. The USB cord I use to charge it was NFG. This was a problem because I needed to contact my dispatch to let them know about a problem getting loaded. A young guy in the truck next to me, even though he switched to Android, still had an old cord that worked which he then gave to me. I charged my phone, made my call, problem solved.

I started wondering about how many times a day this must be repeated throughout North America. Not this specific incident but help in general. Ever helped someone having a hard time backing up? Been helped putting on tire chains? Given or been given directions?

I once stupidly added some coolant during my pretrip on a Prince George run and then forgot to replace the cap. I somehow made it up Jackass mountain with no trouble and went all the way to the climb above Clinton before all hell broke loose. Luckily an Alaska trucker named “Vin” was in the pullout and he had 2 jugs of coolant and 4 jugs of water. After a lengthy cooldown period and the sacrifice of an old t-shirt for a cap and all of my drinking water I was able to get to the Freightliner dealer in Williams Lake to get a new cap.

Vin wouldn’t take anything in return and his only comment was to “pay it forward”. Of course I have since and always will.

I actually think that I earned Vin’s help through Karma 3 weeks earlier when I helped a driver put out a trailer fire in the Sowaqua pullout after he’d heated up his brakes coming down the Smasher. He was pulling an asphalt recycler and there was a residue buildup underneath the trailer which the hot brakes ignited. It was a near thing though, myself, a four wheeler and the other driver each used up our extinguishers. Since we were outside the Hope fire protection area we were on our own.

I don’t know if there’s something about being a trucker that “makes” us help each other out, or if trucking naturally attracts helpful people. Either way if you need help, I’m there.

Now lets help each other get a big fat raise.

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Truck Friendly

Please...Watch Your Step.

Please…Watch Your Step.

Recently, while traveling through rural Alberta to pick up a container full of meat bound for Japan, I drove through Torrington AB. Now, Torrington not being a very large place is not very well known. In fact the little bit of information that is available (mostly Wikipedia) suggests that having once been a village, Torrington’s status has been reduced to a hamlet due to population decline.

At this point I have to say that it’s possible that the town’s claim to fame the “World Famous Gopher Hole Museum” may actually be driving the townsfolk away.

The reason behind my mentioning this is that perhaps small towns that are struggling to find ways to grow their economy may invest in attracting professional drivers to their town or village. Now I’m not likely to stop to visit the “World’s Largest Dragonfly” or a giant oil can or a novelty golf ball character.

But, I am likely to stop for a clean washroom, a chance at some local home cooking, or a place to buy a cup of coffee. Knowing that I would love to get off the road long enough to work the kinks out of my back, you would think that there would be hundreds of places to accomplish this. Alas this is not so.

If you’re a Mayor or Councillor of a struggling small town, why not take a chance and install some amenities? Most of the truck stops in western Canada are chock full and finding a place to pull off the road for refreshments can be very difficult. Invest in your town and you will reap the rewards.

Until next time:Keep both hands on the wheel!

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16 Years – Make Them Good Ones

In 16 years your child or grandchild could begin school(kindergarten)and graduate from college with a 4 year degree. In 16 years an adult learner has enough time to get a bachelors degree and 3 masters degrees. In 16 years one could walk around the earth (assuming one could walk on water) astonishingly more than 8.5 times!

16 years is also unfortunately the difference in average life expectancy of the North American truck driver.

So how did we get here? Late nights? High pressure deadlines? Convenience foods? No time for exercise?

The answer to these questions is both complicated and yet so very simple. While the pressures of making deadlines in our “just in time” system of logistics, combined with the prevalence of junk food in the coveted high visibility areas of truck stops are undeniable, it is ultimately up to each driver to be responsible for our own lifestyle choices.

A veggie tray with 2 hard-boiled eggs and a banana for dessert is as easy and convenient as fried chicken and a bag of chips, and also slightly cheaper. A cold bottle of water, or a delicious smoothie from your truck fridge is just as refreshing as a Coca-Cola on a hot summer day.

Eating healthy foods is only part of the equation, the second part is the dreaded “E” word – Exercise!! Did you know that 32 laps around a tractor trailer = 1 mile? How hard can that be? I bet doing 32 circle checks every day would do wonders for catching defects, ultimately leading to a safer truck, a safer drive and a healthier driver.

It’s never too late to change it around, eat healthy and get your exercise, and ask yourself one question. What will you do with those 16 years?

16 Years:Who will you spend it with?

16 Years:Who will you spend it with?

Until next time:Keep both hands on the wheel!!

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Rainbow’s End?

Rainbow's End?

Rainbow’s End?

So this past week there were some developments on the Temporary Foreign Worker file. Essentially two of the sore points of the program were dealt with, however, like the illusory “end of the rainbow” the labour market balance between Canada’s unfilled jobs and the unemployed who fill them is unlikely to be found.

Firstly, the A-LMO is gone.

Accelerated Labour Market Opinion (A-LMO): According to HR legal experts Mathews Dinsdale LLP A positive A-LMO can be issued in as little as 10 days.

“This new initiative should help reduce some of the hassle associated with the use of temporary foreign workers, as it is intended to provide Canadian employers with quicker access to employees outside of Canada who possess skills that are in short supply.”

Hmmmn. I wonder what skills could be in short supply?

By the year 2020, the Conference Board of Canada estimates that the for-hire trucking industry will be short at least 25,000 drivers.

“If they are 38, they only have 30 years or something of driving years left in them,” said Vijay Gill, lead research for the Conference Board’s report.

Yikes! I guess I can only drive truck for another 30 years or so according to Vijay. Sucks, I was hoping to continue my driving career posthumously. Me and the other “GhostDrivers” would have taken a real bite out of that pesky driver shortage!

The other development was related to employee pay. Previously employers were allowed to pay TFW’s up to 15% less than the prevailing Canadian wage. Thankfully this has now been eliminated and no more employees are put at an economic disadvantage to their peers.

Some key facts from Statistics Canada:

338,189 TFW’S as of December 1 2012
Only 140,668 in 2005
36,680 TFW’s involved in Trades,Transport,Equipment Operators

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