I’ve been feeling pretty stressed out over the last couple of weeks. The reason being, our 16-month-old grandson was undergoing a major surgical procedure.
Despite the fact this procedure was planned well in advance and not an emergency, it still weighed heavily on my mind as I drove. I found myself wishing for bad weather so that I had a distraction to occupy my mind.
When things are easy out here, I often find that my mind has a mind of its own. It will take off into thought and fantasy when given a ‘What if?’ scenario. Having a loved one in the hospital is the perfect ‘What if?’ scenario, isn’t it?
Well let me tell you, that little grandson of mine has had a stranglehold on my heart since the day he was born.
No matter how many times I grabbed hold of my mind and pulled it back into the present moment over the past couple of weeks, all my mind wanted to do was chase down every dark thought that would arise and blow it out of proportion.
Independence is one of the great attractions of the trucking lifestyle for me, but there are times when personal circumstances transform that independence into nothing more than a feeling of helplessness. That was the source of my stress over the past few weeks. I’m sure many drivers can relate to that feeling.
Coincidentally, workplace stress within the trucking industry is the topic of a meeting I will be attending in January.
After my experience over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pondering other issues we face within our industry which add to our stress.
The issue of driver health is a source of stress in many different ways. The fact that a licence can be revoked if a minimum health standard is not met is something that many drivers have to face as they age and their health declines.
Many drivers are the primary wage earners in their household and a health issue that cuts a driver’s career short a decade or more ahead of their planned retirement can be catastrophic for a driver’s entire family.
This is a topic many of us don’t address until it is too late.
Our families are aging also. Death and dying isn’t something our society does a good job of addressing.
So it is usually a source of great stress within most families. In many cases a person’s death is usually preceded by a period of time that requires hospitalization, home care, or some form of assisted living.
This period of time can go on for weeks, months, or years.
For a driver and their family, this can be incredibly stressful since the driver is on the road most of the time.
As a result, a driver’s partner or siblings end up taking on most of the day-to-day responsibility for the family member that requires the care.
This can be a huge source of stress within families.
Would it not be beneficial to help drivers and their families prepare to face these issues before they arise in order to minimize the stress?
We can thank our lucky stars that we don’t have to deal with illness and end-of-life issues on an ongoing daily basis. When it arises, we deal with it.
Rather it’s the little things in life that we miss out on that can be the most stressful. These are the things that we often assign a priority behind that of working and earning a living.
Things like: family birthdays, anniversaries, family gatherings, sporting events for our kids, school events, and the like. These things are very important to us and numerous. We plan to be there for as many of them as we can but even the best-laid plans go awry.
Equipment breaks down, loads are delayed overnight, weather gets in the way, and so on. If you’re a driver, you know the story. Sometimes you just can’t make it back in time despite your best efforts.
I don’t think there is anything worse than disappointing your spouse and children.
A broken promise is a breach of trust within our families. It’s a job hazard we all deal with and a major source of stress in the trucking workplace and within trucking families.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of stresses we face as truck drivers.
On top of these personal issues, the global belt-tightening continues to add stress to all our lives. Drivers are held more accountable for their actions than ever before.
We seem to be working longer and harder and reaping fewer benefits. There’s lots of stress to go around. I certainly haven’t found the magic bullet to slay this monster.
All we can continue to do when we get up each day is to suck it up, paste on a smile, and keep on trucking.