CALGARY, Alta. – After a series of fortunate, but unplanned events, Allan Armour now finds himself seated behind the wheel of a Freightliner hauling fuel to various parts of Alberta and B.C.
Working outdoors and away from an office structure is what makes being a professional truck driver so appealing to Armour.
“You’re basically working by yourself and are virtually unsupervised. I don’t like people looking over my shoulder,” explained Armour, as we rolled along Hwy. 22 with a pair of empty fuel tankers trailing behind.
It was the return leg of our trip, after a delivery of fuel to Fernie, B.C.
Back in Calgary, it was the end of the line for me, but Armour would reload his fuel compartments and head back out to the highway, which is where he enjoys driving the most.
“There’s too many wingnuts in the city,” he remarked with a grin.
Armour had always been somewhat of a highway man. For a number of years he worked for the provincial government as a road surveyor. Shortly after he moved into road construction, but looking for work every winter to tide him over until construction season began again soon took its toll.
From working with the government and in construction, Armour already possessed a Class 2 licence and the next logical step he figured was to obtain his Class 1.
“I got my Class 1 and turned that into year-round employment and am happy the way things worked out,” he noted. “Having a professional driver’s licence opens a lot of doors, no matter how bad the economy is there will always be work.”
It has been 12 years now since Armour made the jump to a Class 1 licence holder and he has spent time behind the wheel of a number of different trucks.
He’s done heavy equipment hauling, demolition and gravel, hauled water for a construction crew and hauled fertilizer and spray.
For the past two and a half years Armour has worked as a driver with Economy Carriers.
Now an experienced fuel hauler, his progression to hauling liquids was never a conscious decision, but it has turned out to be a good working environment and Armour has no plans of leaving any time soon.
“ECL is a very friendly place to work. They have an open-door policy with the management and they seem to listen to driver’s concerns with both positive and negative impact and take it into account when creating policies,” said Armour. “They are also open and flexible with driver’s needs and work around the driver’s needs.”
Flexibility is important for Armour as he resides an hour north of Calgary in the Town of Didsbury. When it comes time to start the workweek, Armour is set to spend the next five days inside the Freightliner.
“I work on a five days on, two days off, five days on, three days off schedule,” he explained. “For me it’s an hour commute so it doesn’t make sense to do that drive every day.”
The cab is clean, well-kept and we lock the radio onto CBC as we travel down the highway, waiting for updates on what would eventually be Canada’s 2-0 loss to Russia in the quarter-finals of Olympic hockey.
Hockey is one of the ways Armour enjoys his time away from the road. In an unofficial men’s league, Armour plays goalie for a Didsbury-based team against other surrounding towns. Although working on the road means he can’t attend all the games, it’s enough to keep him satisfied. In the spring and summer Armour likes to get out to the golf course as often as possible, but it is not just sports that take up his leisure time.
“I like to spend time with my nieces and nephews and the rest of my family,” he said.
Back at work, Armour also plays a role as a trainer for new drivers and works with fuel-experienced drivers to gain knowledge of the policies of Economy Carriers. As per company policy driver evaluations are conducted every year, another job Armour is tasked with.
“There’s no white knuckles,” he jokes. “Some of the guys evaluated have been driving for the company for a number of years, so it is as much a learning experience for me as it is for them. I look for things to make my job easier and share that information.”
Seated in the passenger seat of Armour’s truck, I joined elite company as only the second person without a Class 1 licence to take a ride.
The other was the wife of Lyle Oberg, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation who won a ride to Canmore with Armour as part of a charity auction.
Armour said he enjoys the companionship once in a while, but being out on the road by himself is how he prefers to spend his time.
“The thing I enjoy most about being a truck driver is also the thing which I probably hate the most, which is a lot of time by yourself in the truck,” he explained.
“When things are positive you have lots of time to think, but when things are negative you have to be careful not to dwell on them.”