When I think back to the early days when I
was a young inexperienced driver, the trucks were basic, nothing like the warm,
quiet, and over here in Scotland, the mostly automatic transmission cabovers we
But who would've thought that forty-odd
years later, I would remember those early days as the best time of my life,
especially as I spent much of it duct-taping gaps in the engine cowling to keep
the draughts out and throwing an extra blanket over in winter?
Bob, an old buddy of mine, said that when he
went to some English docks to pick up a load, his freight might be on a lower
deck and not due to be unloaded off the ship for another day or more. With a
small gratuity to grease the wheel of the guy in charge on the dockside, he
could find out how long it would be until his freight was ready to collect.
Then he found a call box and phoned his
boss to tell him the freight wouldn't be ready to collect for a day or so. His
boss usually said, "Right, Bob, that freight is urgent so I need you to
park up there and wait for it. That was Bob's cue to go to some of the clearing
agents, get a load he could deliver, and be back in time to pick up his freight
when it was ready. Back then, some
agents paid drivers cash to deliver loads, so it was pocket money for Bob since
his wages were already being paid. Unlike modern
drivers, who are monitored every minute of their working day, that was one of
the big benefits of not having a cell phone or any in-cab monitoring.
I wonder what drivers who pass their class
one test now will think about their early years in forty years' time.
My old buddy, Mel McConaghy, who wrote for
Pro-Trucker for many years before his death, and encouraged me to write, also wrote
a book called The raven, where a driver from the future was transported back in
time to 2021. His story went something like this.
walked into the dispatch office; it was November 10, 2203, and as he looked at
the big clock over one of the driver's dispatch cubicles, he thought to himself,
'22:47. Good,' 'I'm not scheduled out until 0100 that will give me lots of time
to check my routing, manifests and destination.'
walked over to the coffee robot and ordered his coffee, "Give me a
seven-ounce coffee, no milk, one sweetener, I want coffee in unit 743 for an
eighty-hour trip and listen you tin can, get it right this trip. I want real
coffee not some of that crap you've been trying to peddle".
"Yes Sir", answered an arrogant,
metallic voice from the robot as it dispensed the cup of coffee and repeated
the order for the Highway Move that Mathew was to take on this trip.
He took his coffee and walked over to the
secure dispatch cubical, turned on the security screen and sat down in front of
the computer. As he turned it on, he put his face up to the eye scanner. As he
sat waiting for it to analyze his eye scan and give him his security card, he
sipped his coffee and said to himself under his breath, "What a bunch of
crap," glancing up at the surveillance monitor for any indication that it
The computer started feeding out his
security check and the card that would allow him to get to work.
'Mathew Hallam, security number 18464-W,
Prime mover 743,
Cargo containers number 628 and 629 staged at
Waiting for your inspection, enter code number
to continue,' the screen on the computer read. 'Boy, this Truck Driving isn't
like it was in my great, great grandfather's days,' he thought as he started
He spoke to the computer, "Start pre-trip,
prime mover number 743. "The computer started networking with the unit in
the prime mover and reading the data from it.
Fuel cells, -----OK and operating.
Electromagnetic propulsion and suspension
system, ----- OK.
Electro-magnet braking system, ------ OK.
computer rambled through the system check, OK- green light, Ok- green light.
Maybe drivers in forty years' time will tell
stories about how they actually had to stay awake for the whole trip and
control the truck, "oh yes, you youngsters have it easy."
Although, just like Mel's version of a
pre-trip, drivers today have to rely on a computer to tell them, among other
things, if the engine oil level is ok. Either that or they have to tilt the cab
to access the dipstick.