Hauling a tanker filled with liquid has its perks. You make a decent amount of money, and the load and unload times are typically short. You also get a very strong massage on your back, according to Sameer Vij, who transports liquid for a living. As you move, liquid starts sloshing inside the container and you feel every bit of it on your back, the owner-operator said.
Vij liked surrounding himself with noisy machines when he was growing up. Trucking is his third career in his third decade of working. He worked for about 10 years on the shop floor of an automotive parts company. This was followed by a decade in the call center industry. Then he felt the need for another career change.
He started driving a truck in 2015 and loves this job. The people he meets along the way and open roads with scenic vistas fuel and energize him to get into the cab every day. “I would never have been able to experience this from behind a screen or from the confines of a shop floor,” he said.
Vij and his family moved from India to North America in 2002 and immigrated to Canada in 2008. He began his trucking career moving dry vans as a company driver and a few years later bought his own truck.
Last year, he began hauling liquid for Gorski Bulk Transport based in Windsor, Ont.
What is the difference between hauling tankers and dry vans? “Consider being a rookie in a ring and getting a battering from Hulk Hogan or Mike Tyson,” Vij replied with a smile.
“The biggest difference was adjusting to the sloshing when starting to move, coming to a stop, and planning an exit from the highway. The liquid is always moving.”
Vij has trucked almost a million miles. He spends 75% of his time on the road in the U.S. He said he has delivered and picked up loads from 47 conjoined states. Louisiana is the one he hasn’t been to.
In Canada, he has driven coast to coast, from British Columbia to New Brunswick, passing through Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. “It will be a dream come true when I have delivered in the three territories and Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.
Vij said every mile is different and the road teaches you to stay humble. Also, one learns to respect the weather. A driver can experience the joy of driving in bright sunshine while enjoying the blue skies one day and the next day could be blasted with snow, rain, and thunder. The winter months offer lessons in humility.
Trucking takes you away from the comfort of your home and loved ones. He had just returned from a 10-day trip, delivering a load to California. After a day’s rest, he was heading out to Maryland across the border.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are doing a job that people generally avoid doing,” Vij said.
Trucking as a career also comes with challenges, including the lack of parking spaces, washrooms, and food options, Vij said. Another pet peeve is drivers using their high beams at night on single-lane highways.
He said not many four-wheeler drivers understand the concept of space and maneuvering around a truck. “I want you to steer clear of my truck quickly and don’t cut in front thinking there’s enough room for a car to get in front of a truck. Trust me, it is never enough room.”
Vij advises new truck drivers to stay off the headset and to keep checking their rear-view mirrors. And it is not about how fast you drive; it is about your level of comfort and control of a big rig. “Stay healthy and get back to your loved ones, other road users are trying to do the same.”
For the moment, Vij is focused on the next mile as he watches the future unfold through his windshield.
By Leo Barros
Roadtoday.com regularly profiles individual truck drivers who keep Canada’s trucking industry on the move. If you know someone who should be profiled, contact Associate Editor Leo Barros by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.