Going by the law of averages, it was only a matter of time before I caught the Covid virus. My good lady and I did all we could to stay safe. We had our three injections, we hardly ever went out, and we always wore our masks when we did.
Then last Saturday, we brought a snottery two-year-old into our backyard to run wild chasing bubbles and balloons. Although she had the inexhaustible energy all small children have, at the end of the day, it was obvious she had run out of steam and had something working on her.
I took her and my eldest son back to their home, then it all started in the next couple of days. The two-year menace who calls me grumps for some strange reason left us a parting gift. Well, I’m blaming her anyway.
Like a lot of truckers, I can usually shrug off most illnesses, keep the wheels rolling and the money coming in is my train of thought. But this was one time I was glad to be retired and could follow the rules of isolation.
With all the time I spent in bed, I started to think back to drivers I knew in the old days, and how they would have coped with this virus. To start with, it wouldn’t have been called a virus. It would’ve been a bad case of the flu. But if herd immunity had been a thing back then, that’s the camp we would’ve been in.
Truck drivers are used to isolation, it’s part of the job being away for weeks at a time, and if you or the truck fall ill when you’re away from home, old-school truckers would always try to nurse the truck or themselves back to their depot.
This was back in the times when trucks carried a spare wheel and drivers stopped to help another driver change a punctured tyre. And a network of breakdown recovery companies was not a phone call away.
There was a driver from my depot who ran down to the same nightshift trailer swap point as me. When I pulled in, it was obvious something was going on. He was having chest pains but just wanted somebody to hook his tractor unit to the Scottish-bound trailer so he could get home. He said, ”It’s only indigestion. I’ll be fine once I get on the highway and get cruise control engaged.”
He was lucky the driver he usually swapped trailers with could see he was in no fit state to go anywhere. The English driver called an ambulance and the nearest depot to bring a spare driver. The chest pains turned out to be a heart attack that kept him in an English hospital for a week before being transferred to a Scottish hospital nearer home.
When you think of the worst-case scenario, there could’ve been carnage if he had got on the main M6 with the cruise set at the 56mph limit all UK trucks run at and then collapsed at the wheel. So maybe it is better all us old codgers are making way for the young, fit healthy drivers. Modern trucking is not the job it used to be.
Health and safety and insurance companies don’t want old guys with dodgy knees and bent arthritic fingers from roping and tarping loads in the freezing cold. One old driver I worked with was very annoyed he was made to retire due to his right hand only having a thumb that worked properly. He said, “I can still grip the steering wheel with my bent fingers and thumb.”