A Day In The Life (March 01, 2002)

by Brandi Cramer

MILTON, Ont. – Delivering safety for all truckers and motorists in the winter months is largely a duty bestowed on the residents of the makeshift shantytowns, which seasonally spring up alongside major arteries of the Greater Toronto Area. These crews stand ready to go to work at the toss of a dime. MSO Construction Ltd. has two crews stationed along oft-busy Hwy. 407. Both camps, one at Derry Road and the 8th Line, the other at Steeles and Hwy. 27 take care of plowing from Appleby Line in the west to Brock Rd. in the east.

Gord Smith, one of two foremen at the Derry Rd. Patrol Yard, has a crew of 19 workers doing multiple tasks including operating a loader, driving combination rigs (salter and plow), mechanical work and regular maintenance.

“It takes a person that can wake up at any time, night or day, and perform their duties willingly,” he says. “It’s not a 9-5 job. When you figure you have a day off, it can be jeopardized (due to weather).”

In a trucking operation where Mother Nature is the shipper, nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes all these road-ready truckers can do is sit and wait for the weather.

Pager systems and cell phones keep everyone in touch. Once contacted, however, they only have 20 minutes to make it to the yard and into their trucks.

“All the guys that live here are on call 24 hours,” says Smith, adding sometimes the work never seems to end. “You’ll think the storm is finished, then it starts all over again.”

He stresses, however, the lift you get when the weather does break is unmatched.

“The weather is terrible (but) the roads are good,” says Smith, “(Then) we’re doing our jobs right.”

– Brandi Cramer uses her love of photography to highlight a different aspect of the trucking industry each month and she can be reached at 416-442-2194.

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