work & driving

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Unfortunately we don’t have allocated units, so I often have to put up with this sort of crap in whatever unit i’ve been given to drive.

1. Dreamcatchers.
These rather annoying objects are often found hung in the back of cabs, or really annoyingly from the top bunk behind the driver. It’s a hoop with a mesh in the middle, and loads of feathers and shit hanging from the loop.

Dreamcatchers were originally used by Native Americans in order to protect their children from bad dreams. The bad dreams were caught in the net and only good ones were allowed through. So I guess truckers use them to give them a better night’s sleep or some such bogus crap.

Why do I find them annoying? Well for starters truckers are adults – learn to cope with your bad dreams, you’re not a baby any more. Secondly they flap about behind my head or clatter against the windows or get in the way when I want to pull the curtains. Get them out!!

I’ve even seen them in day cabs which is quite frankly ridiculous.

2. Confederate Flags.
Give me strength! This is the UK, not the Deep South; wake up fool! Also, why do you want to display such a symbol of racism in the front of your cab? Idiot.

3. Stuffed animals, etc.
If I find one more manky stuffed toy on the dash, strapped to the bunk, glued to the window or whatever I’ll do my nut. They are *not* cool nor are they funny, it just shows you up to have a mental age of under ten.

4. Dirty bedding
Please take your foul bedding/pillows/etc out with you – I don’t want to touch them for fear of what I may catch. Yuk!

5. England flags.
Jesus, we’re already in England, there’s no need to go on about it you football-loving oaf!

6. Name plates.
For example, “Burt’s Cab”, etc. Puurleeze, get a grip; it’s not your cab, we don’t have allocated units nor did you pay for it. You’re living in a dreamworld pal, it’s not your cab because I’m driving it and my name isn’t Burt.

On a more general note, I’m getting fed up with the general foulness of many of our cabs. I’m hardly neurotically clean but I really am getting tired of pissy smelling cabs because of other driver’s poor personal hygiene. Why not wash your clothes once in a while? Preferably wash yourself at the same time. Also, stop getting fifth-wheel grease everywhere, it’s foul. I usually have to spend five minutes with wet-wipes to remove the grime for the wheel, door-handles, gearstick, etc before I drive. Call me fussy but a sticky steering-wheel just isn’t fun.

Once, even a shit in a bag was found in one of our cabs. Says it all really.


It’s been quite an easy week at work – a reasonable start time (4pm) followed by a quick run up the A1 to Pontefract, then back to base, pick up another trailer and off to Ashton-Under-Lyne. After that it’s either return to base or do a backhaul.

The backhaul is usually from an Eddie Stobart depot near Burnley but last night I had to pick up ten tons of paint from a place near Leeds. Nothing unusual about that apart from the fact that when you get there at two in the morning the place is completely dead to the world.

You pull off the main road and some hidden security guard opens the barrier for you before you’ve even made the turn. You then go down through a massive yard full of trailers and units until you get right to the dingy end where our trailers sit. For some reason it’s spooky as hell. Big yards like this are usually full of light and noise with shunters, forklifts and units scurrying about everywhere. With all the people removed it’s an eerie experience.

I swap trailers looking over my shoulder all the time. I don’t see any security cameras in the vicinity – what if you had an accident here? After an hour or so I guess security would come looking but I don’t fancy relying on that.

After I’ve hitched up and waited for the air pressure to build back up I head out of the yard. On the way out I see another one of our drivers on the way in to pick up the other trailer. We exchange grunts and I head home, glad to be back on populated roads.

This article from Wired regarding just how bad working night is for the body makes interesting reading

After working almost entirely nights with start times that change every week for over a year now, I can confirm that they just ruin your mind and body.

I never really know what my mealtimes should be, I permanently feel exhausted at weekends and in the day, I’ve found it harder to control my weight and my general health has plummeted. I’ve had an ongoing throat infection that won’t shift and because of this am having to go for blood tests this week.

I love the driving but I feel the job is slowly killing me. Even a regular night-shift would be better than the crap we have to put up with. One week I’ll start at 5pm, the next at 4am, etc. I just feel completely fucked all the time.

Due to the current financial climate, there are no jobs about but as soon as I can move back to a day job I will do so.


Often after i’ve been given a run out to the other side of the Pennines, I’ll try to stop for my main break somewhere on the Woodhead Pass on my return journey.

My favourite place is right at the top, on the high bleak section of moorland between Langsett and Crowden.

I love to lie down to sleep with the lorry being buffetted by the strong winds and hearing the rain bouncing on the cab roof. There’s something oddly comforting about feeling warm and secure in such an environment; the foul weather outside and the cosy hum of the night-heater keeping me toasty on the inside.

That said, even on a fine night it’s a good place to stop as often you will awake to stunning views over the Peak moorland which  is a much nicer environment to come to in than some piss-stinking lorry-park at an anonymous motorway services.

A cold morning on the Woodhead Pass

A cold morning on the Woodhead Pass

A few weeks ago I reached the top of the pass and pulled in behind a white van. The weather was foul, freezing with horizontal rain and I watched with mild interest as the driver of the van was struggling in the wind with something in the back of his van. I had parked very close to him as the layby is only small and he darted me a look which wasn’t angry but not exactly overjoyed to see me either.

I thought it must have been my headlights pissing him off so I dipped them and jumped out of the wagon for a quick piss around the back.  When I got back in, ready for my sleep, he was strugling with a large sheet of cardboard trying to lay it down on the floor in the gale. This wasn’t really working but eventually he manged to stand on it on the floor.

Next he starts to take his shoes off – I watched bemused thinking “what the fuck are you up to?” until when he starts to prostrate himself it suddenly sinks in – he’s praying! The soggy cardboard was his prayer mat and he’s doing  it there in order to face the Kaaba in Mecca.

Suddenly I feel guilty that I’m intruding so I pull shut the curtains and turn off the wagon lights. As I climb on to the bunk I hear him reciting his prayer into the gale.

I’m amazed at the dedication of some people to their religion. I felt bad for feeling like a spectator on what no doubt was quite a personal moment, but to an atheist like me it just didn’t register what he was trying to do or occur to me that somebody would worship in such a foul environment.

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Had my first real “oh shit!” moment last night.

I was running north to Ashington which is just up the coast from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. It’s a steady three hour run from Worksop and I was nearly there. I wasn’t running particularly heavy, we rarely do when  we’re doing shop delieveries with a single-decker;  it’s the backhauls that get heavy.

The weather had taken a turn for the worst and the rain was hammering down in proper sheets leaving a lot of standing water and quite poor visibility. I was passing a sliproad that joined the dual-carriageway that I was on and as per usual, some cars were filtering on.

Most cars are pretty sensible when pulling onto a dual-carriagway and adjust their speed to fit in around the truck (as they should). For some reason a fool in a tiny Micra pulled out about a hundred feet in front of me travelling at around thirty miles per hour. Fuck! I hit the brakes and clicked on the right indicator ready to pull out right… but there was a car accelerating up behind me in lane two and I would have crushed it by changing lane. I clicked off the signal and continue to haul on the brakes as hard as I could – because it’s so wet I wasn’t  slowing down very quickly and the suicidal car isn’t making any attempt to speed up.

I thought it was curtains for the Micra but I managed to haul down to his speed at only five feet from his rear bumper.  I’m get on the horn and the driving lamps out of anger but give up and just feel drained. Lucky I wasn’t fully loaded or there’s no way I’d have stopped.

He pulled off at the next sliproad a quarter of a mile further on without seemingly even registering a problem.

Drunk? Amazingly stupid? I don’t know. I would have destroyed his little car and most likely killed him and his passenger. It would be a horrible thing to live with.

I don’t get into many scrapes – my anticipation is usually pretty good but sometimes you can’t guard against the foolhardy actions of others.

I guess when you spend so much time on the road then incidents are inevitable but I’m really not looking forward to my first one.

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