I’m sure you can all relate! If you bought a state-of-the-art semi and just drove it back and forth a few miles locally on occasion, maybe four to six thousand miles per year, it would still be in pristine condition 20 years later. Over the course of a half dozen years, recording 120,000 miles or more per annum, that same semi would show a bit more wear and have gone through a few more procedures such as an in-frame, bearing roll-in, injector rebuild, and replacing several sets of tires. You know what I’m saying. Our bodies are somewhat similar - the more active we are, especially if one is adventurous and likes to give it everything we have, then the more wear and tear after several decades of activity.
I will be celebrating four score years and seven this month of July, from a wheelchair, riddled with whole-body severe osteoarthritis and extreme stenosis in my back and lower legs. I recently bought a kayak. I can fall into it quite easily, but it will take a couple of burly chaps to extract me from it upon landing back on firm soil. Also, for my birthday mid-month, I will be falling from the sky at 12,000 feet at the Vancouver Sky Diving Club at the Abbotsford Airport. So my bucket list will be greatly reduced by summer’s end.
In the early days, when most semis were cabovers because of the restrictive length regs, one eschewed the ladder to exit the cab and just slid down the grab handle, landing abruptly on the ground. This cavalier activity had a damaging effect on the knees after a few years. It was nothing to leap off a load of lumber while spreading one’s tarps, and you were considered a wuss if you used the stairs to exit the dock rather than just jumping down onto the pavement, once again compromising the joints. Before pallets and forklifts were invented, you often hand-bombed a full load (42,000 lb.) after driving five, six or maybe even 800 miles. Wear and tear on the body was over the top.
Personally, I have suffered several surgeries, but I awaken each morning with a smile on my face having cheated the Grim Reaper once again. I love life and am living it to the fullest possible limit I can reach. There is not a negative bone in my body.
What am I saying to you? Today’s semis are state-of-the-art in technical engineering and creature comfort. New technologies in shipping and receiving practices have removed the majority of physical labour necessary to add to one’s daily log.
Beating yourself up is a personal choice, not one demanded by the occupation. However, it is still possible to forget the long haul ahead in one’s life journey and overdo things to the point of detriment. Your body IS your temple … treat it as such. It will wear out sooner than one thinks if not paced appropriately. I quit smoking in 1985 in a bar. I quit drinking alcoholic beverages in 2010 and am better for it. I am NOT telling you to follow my example, but if there is a need to cut back, at least give it some thought.
“Tempus fugit” is Latin for “time flies,” and seriously, it does. I think I can remember most of the almost 5 million miles I have driven both privately and commercially, but now what did I have for supper last night? It is good to exercise your body and your mind every day. Thirty-two laps around a semi and 52’ trailer are approximately one mile, and you never know what you might discover that needs attention as you circle your rig. I know that’s boring. Sometimes I would stop my big wheels on the outskirts of a small village and take a tour of the townsite to familiarize myself with the community. One never knows what interesting discovery one might find. If I had the time, I would stop at a tourist site to walk a pathway and partake of the area. Beware of scorpions, grizzly bears and poisonous snakes … lol.
Life itself is an adventure that can be exhilarating and fulfilling if approached with the proper mindset. That’s for each one of us to figure out for ourselves. Remember that negativity has no rewards, while positivity is a very awarding attitude with myriad benefits. So enjoy yours to the fullest! Motor with care, be well and be safe, and god willing and the crick don’t rise, we’ll see you in a few weeks. Stay tuned for the results of my summer activities.