I started the month of March as a trucker, and ended the month as an essential worker. This was the story for every worker that is part of the supply chain. What we are all learning is that we are deeply interdependent.
Gone are the days of thinking that any line of work is unimportant or insignificant in its contribution to the whole. The term ‘unskilled labor’ has carried with it the belief that anyone can do these types of jobs. We are learning otherwise.
There has been plenty of praise heaped upon truckers and other frontline workers over the past weeks. This is not glamorous work. It is often tedious. Most of us accept our role and operate quietly under the radar of those above our station.
So, it is an odd feeling to be seen as being heroic in our actions – actions that have not changed from day to day. It is only the perspective of others that has changed. Life on the road for the past month has become surreal, and taken on a feeling of moral responsibility.
It is wonderful to be appreciated and recognized, but it comes with added cost in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is fear and anxiety that goes hand-in-hand with the health risk frontline workers are exposing themselves to. For most of us that fear is not so much for ourselves, but for our loved ones. Many truckers are simply not going home to their families, in an attempt to protect them. As I write this, we are into the first week of April and have yet to reach the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not getting any easier for any of us.
On arrival at the truck each Friday evening, I don a pair of protective gloves and spray every touch surface and work surface with a disinfectant spray.
I close up the truck and let everything dry before going back in and vacuuming and wiping down everything, as I normally would with regular cleaners. Only then do I load up my personal gear. This gives me a sanitized living space to work from for the week.
It’s easy for me, as a longhaul driver, to isolate myself in this space and manage my contact with others outside the truck. I minimize contact further by carrying my own food and water. It has been easy for me to adapt, because I started down this path a number of years ago for health reasons. So this is how I provide myself with some peace of mind.
Most drivers do not have the benefit I have of being out for five days then home for two. It is much easier for me to remain independent and carry homemade foods and not have to worry about resupply. Many drivers stay out much longer than I do and depend on restaurants and truck stops as part of their regular routine.
With only take-out now available and many businesses changing the access to showers and bathroom facilities for truck drivers, life on the road has become more than a little challenging. Many drivers are feeling the stress and there is still a long road ahead.
In the next month, we will see layoffs in the trucking sector. Many drivers are volunteering for layoffs since they do not want to expose their loved ones to the virus. For those of us still on the road, many are at higher risk of infection due to underlying health conditions that come with being part of the older demographic that defines our industry.
It’s not easy to leave home each week. The anxiety is very real. At the same time it is a privilege to be able to continue to work and support others, especially when so many are going without and isolating themselves in order to stem the spread of this virus.
May you all remain safe and healthy.
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