Thoroughly oriented…

Another company, another orientation day. Odd how the work can be so much the same and so different. Although some things are bound to have changed in the 18 months I’ve been trying to get fit enough (and employable enough) to climb back into the cab. And of course some things have been, well, to be brutally honest, sort of forgotten.

It took a full day to learn Linamar ways. They are not Challenger ways but that’s fine, much will be simpler. Challenger was a freight company with a wide portfolio of different clients, we were hauling chicken soup one day, sofas the next, followed by beer and then auto parts…but mainly mail. Linamar is a manufacturing corporation with a freight transport wing, mostly shifting its own products. This will make the paperwork simpler. No FDA documents, meat certificates, alcohol clearances, just a bill of lading that says ‘auto parts’ or possibly ‘dunnage’.… Read on...

Pumping iron

Well, the ‘publish’ button was hardly pushed on my little exposition of how little sexism there is in the trucking industry these days, when I thought I was going to have to print a retraction. It was touch and go for a while there. I thought I’d uncovered a fiendish plot to keep women off the road.

I’ve been offered this job, you see. After a year recovering from the physical meltdown that followed Highway 17 in a blizzard, I finally got the go-ahead from the doc to get back in a truck. I passed the MTO medical and started flinging my resume at trucking companies. I naturally thought that they’d jump at the chance to hire an almost-rookie, after all I was offered the last job before the ink had dried on my licence. But the recession has intervened and loads of experienced drivers are on the market, having been laid off last year.… Read on...

All change

It’s been ages. I know. ‘What happened to the blog?’ I’m being asked. And it is high time I told you.

It appears, you see, that I may not be quite strong enough to be a trucker after all, and that is quite a difficult thing for an intrepid trail blazer to admit. Just after the last, terrifying, sleep deprived, icy, whiteout of a drive I had some trouble getting out of the cab. I could drive ok but unaccountably couldn’t walk. Whisked off for tests to check for worrying things like MS and brain tumours, I wasn’t allowed to drive until some doc or other deemed it safe.

The good news is that I don’t have MS or a brain tumour.
Read on...

Whiteout


And then it was Neil’s turn to drive through the crappy weather. I handed over while it was snowing and blowing and settling. Visibility wasn’t good, you could see the yellow line from time to time, occasionally a bit of tarmac so you knew there was some road under there somewhere. I went to bed. Sleeping while the truck is moving has become strangely comforting now, although there is still an awareness of odd things happening. I half awoke at one point in the night under the impression we were reversing, put it down to a wacky dream turned over and went back to sleep.

At about 1 in the morning the truck stopped. “the road’s been closed by the police” advised Neil, apparently it had all got a teensy bit worse. The whiteout was now total. He had been directed to park in the car park of a little motel and garage just by where the police had cordoned off the road.… Read on...

Lady truckers and military bases don’t mix

Lady truckers and military bases don’t mix

A day’s rest in Edmonton restored our spirits a little and we headed off to the next pickup in sprightlier mood. Cold Lake was the destination, apparently aptly named although I didn’t actually try out the lake itself. It is about as far north as you can get in Alberta, before the roads give up bothering. The only thing in Cold Lake is an air force base, which is where we were due to collect something, from someone. The shipping address consisted of a mere three letters, CFB, which we only knew to be some sort of military establishment because we happened to be chinwagging over a cup of coffee with a helpful and friendly Challenger team in Edmonton when the assignment came in.

We sent a satellite message to despatch, asking for a bit of help with finding our load. We assumed that the base would be easy enough to locate, but that there might be some sort of protocol attached to getting in and that it might include such security issues as knowing where you were supposed to be collecting what.

Read on...

Snow, The Soo, and high winds in Alberta

Welcome back to winter Carolyn. It was spring in London with crocuses and stuff, in fact it was relatively mild in Ontario too, come to think of it. The snowbanks were melting, leaving behind piles of brownish sludge and puddles in the road which freeze overnight. But, we were destined to head north and west and it didn’t take long to be back in real, proper winter. Northern Ontario goes on forever, it takes a full 24 hours driving to get anywhere near the border with Manitoba and the roads are slushy, hilly, bendy and tiring. They do, however offer a little more in the way of places to drive through than the main drag through the Prairies.

We opted for a new route this week. We are tired of Highway 11. We have tried all the coffee stops and tested all the bathroom opportunities. There is a decent enough truckstop at New Liskeard and a Tim Horton’s you can park near in Cochrane, but the road is difficult to drive and prone to blizzards.… Read on...