The Virus

Posted By Colin Black : Colin Black lives in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. On 2020-05-07 12:00:07

The world is in turmoil at this time. Deaths from the Corona Virus in the UK are at 18,100 and rising every day. Yet drivers are still being refused the use of toilet facilities at some of the big supermarket hubs and other large delivery points. Oh, yes, drivers are being hailed as heroes because they’re keeping the supply chains open, but some drivers are still met with excuses when they ask to use the toilet. That is even though the H.S.E. (Health and Safety Executive) have said it’s illegal to deny drivers access to these facilities. The excuses range from things like, “They’re out of order,” or “We’re waiting for them to be delivered.”

What they’re possibly awaiting delivery of, are the plastic boxes used at outdoor shows and music gigs. Some firms have tried to get around the law by putting portaloo chemical toilets in the corner of the yard, but there is no hot water in these things, so they don’t meet the standards for washing your hands in this time of the pandemic. And any I’ve used when I maybe go to a classic truck show or weekend car boot sale are usually rancid inside anyway.

From comments I’ve read on drivers’ forums, it seems like some drivers go into their delivery point with an attitude of, now it’s illegal to refuse me access to the facilities, so if I can’t use the toilet, you don’t get your freight. That might be ok if you are paid by the hour, which most drivers over here are, and you have an agreement with your boss. But it does nothing for the regard, or lack of it, that some companies have for the drivers delivering to their premises.

Just like Canada, it’s also getting harder for drivers to find a warm meal out on the road. I have read on drivers’ forums that it’s the small truck stops, off the beaten track cafés and mobile food trucks that are stepping up to the plate. The small places that were the mainstay of basic transport catering in my young trucking days that provided everyday plain cooking that filled your belly.

The main A1 on the east side of this country was always geared up for the truck traffic. Before it was given a number, it was the Great North Road. At 410 miles long, it connected London in the south to Edinburgh in the north and had truck stops, fuelling stations and small cafés in abundance.

Then it was upgraded and widened, and big truck stops were built right next to the new highway. Since it was easier for drivers to drive straight into the big truck stops by taking an off-ramp constructed to cater to these large truck stops, some of the by-passed small places lost most of their business and went bust. It seems ironic now that some of the little guys that dodged the bulldozers and managed to stay in business are once again feeding the UK truckers. There might be plenty of space to park in the big truck stops now, but being able to park wherever you like doesn’t do much good if drivers can’t get a decent meal because the multi-choice food mall is currently closed.

Older drivers might be tempted to go back to boiling a kettle in the cab on a single burner gas camping stove, but these things are frowned upon now as a health and safety risk. How did we ever manage in the past before health and safety? Cooking in the cab would undoubtedly keep us away from other possibly infected people.