‘We in the trucking industry have never given up’

Richard Maskaleut
Regional truck driver
Robert Group
Varennes, Que.

This is one in a series of interviews with frontline workers as Today’s Trucking celebrates National Trucking Week, Sept. 5-11.

What can you tell us about your job and the work it includes?

My job consists of multi-delivery pick-up (LTL).  I work from Monday to Friday, every morning at the same time, and my schedule is established in advance. I don’t have a set time to come home, but it’s important for me to come home to my family every night.

During the day, I have several deliveries and pickups to make. We start with the deliveries and then, once the trailer is empty, we proceed with the pickups. Obviously, on a daily basis, we must respect the appointment times for deliveries, despite bad weather and traffic. In addition, we must constantly be on the lookout for traffic, be very safe at all times on the road, and it is also very important to be courteous on the road network to avoid accidents or fender-benders.

Richard Maskaleut
Richard Maskaleut (Photo: Steve Bouchard)

How did you come to work in the trucking industry?

I have always loved driving and being on the road. As soon as I got my driver’s licence at the age of 16, I loved to get out and about. It made me really happy.

When I joined Transport Robert, 30 years ago, I was a forklift operator for two years. Then I was a yard attendant for three years; I was the one who transported the trailers to each loading and unloading dock. The experience was slowly coming in, and that’s when I told myself that I wanted to drive trucks and go on the road. I got my CDL in January 1996, and the very next day, I was on the road as a driver for my first trip.  And what a trip it was! It was -30 degrees Celsius and I made the round trip from Boucherville to Richmond in the Eastern Townships with several hills and a lot of wind. But it didn’t matter. I was finally where I wanted to be, driving a truck.

What do you like the most about your job?

The level of freedom it gives me. Sitting in my truck, deciding what music I listen to, choosing when I drink and what I drink, being able to determine for myself what time I eat. This freedom makes me happy, and it’s a good thing I’m doing. And it is important to be happy in what you do. Also, the pleasure of my job is to be able to travel while being paid. It’s a big plus! I had the chance to visit many places in Quebec, many cities and villages where no one thinks of going. I’ve seen incredible landscapes, incredible sunrises and sunsets. It’s a great advantage that you can’t have working in an office.

What is the biggest challenge the trucking industry faces today?

The industry is experiencing a huge labor shortage. There is a huge shortage of truck drivers, mechanics, and workers in many other positions in the industry.

Our biggest challenge is to convince the youth who will be our future successors, the not-so-young as well as all the other men and women. In fact, the challenge is to convince anyone who might be interested in becoming part of the wonderful world of trucking.

Why do you think the trucking industry should be celebrated?

As you all know, for the past year and a half we have been in the midst of a global pandemic. No one ever saw this storm coming. But we in the trucking industry have never given up on the public. All of us in the trucking industry worked together to make sure that people had everything they needed, and we never stopped operating. And that’s all thanks to the trucking industry as a whole. We must therefore say a big thank you to all the truckers, mechanics, forklift operators, dispatchers and others who are part of the industry, for their dedication to this cause.

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