Driven to succeed

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“IDK if you want to mention I’m a cancer survivor or not.”

 

After a long telephone interview Angela Price sent me this message. I was blown away. Angela is a newer truck driver with just over a year of experience. Her road to trucking was definitely not like many the veterans complain about. She did not go from driving a small car to a semi in a short 6-week course at a questionable school.

Life has presented her with enough challenges that surviving cancer wasn’t something that came up right away. This self-proclaimed Country Girl has done many things in her life so far. She’s raised a child who’s now a university student, done bylaw enforcement, casino security, card dealer, just to name a few of her jobs. Angela has done what’s needed to provide for her family.

She was looking for a change in her life and after having been a “co-pilot” with a trucker friend occasionally, she decided to try trucking. MicroSkills accepted her resume from a long list that included an aptitude test and started her with some courses.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Do you think you have a challenge?

No money for heat in her house. No running water. Barely able to get to school. Would you give up yet? There’s more. After seven or eight weeks of courses, the funding dried up. No money to continue into practical training. Angela bears no ill will, it was just a fluke that at the time she was taking her courses the money wasn’t there to finish.

Angela heard of Ontario Truck Training Academy where Yvette Lagrois could possibly find money to help. Lagrois was able to work a miracle for Angela to continue her schooling.

Yvette had this to say “Angela has the spit and vinegar to be successful in this industry. She decided to succeed ahead of time, this put her in the headspace needed for the transportation industry. It’s critical that people choose trucking and understand the jobs that they will likely be doing upon graduation. That allowed for her to concentrate on what we were requiring her to do, to listen, to demonstrate and think independently. We are very proud of Angela. We are a school that will work hard to find funding for those that are good for trucking, to OTTA this is how government funded should work.”

There’s no question that Angela was focused on becoming a truck driver. From the time she started the process until she was driving a truck for pay was over 2 years! Many people don’t survive competing for funding, not to mention her own personal trials on the way. When asked if she would do it again there was no hesitation in her willingness to do it all over.

Angela is thankful for her mentors and friends Kaelin and Joanne Mackenzie (current Trucker of the Year) and the schools for her training. “School is important. It really helped me with city driving because I’m a country girl.” “I use what I learned in school everyday…”

Angela also has a trait common to many women drivers, but sometimes too uncommon for rookies. She’s not interested in driving unsafe equipment or bending the rules. Even if it means losing a job she enjoys. Angela got her current job at Ajax Auto Wreckers by just walking in off the street and applying. Fortunately, her future boss sensed she had a positive attitude and had just got a new 2016 Kenworth and put her in it. She enjoys hauling scrap and her boss treats her very well but it can be very demanding on her time.  

Trucking can present some challenges on the home front and even though she is a local driver it still affects her. The hours can be variable so it’s tough on relationships and planning things together. On the other hand Angela says this I would like to say that it has also been good for my family life. My daughter loves to be my co pilot when she can. It has given us hours of one on one conversation and she also has a better understanding about commercial driving and the difficulties and dangers of careless passenger cars. I think it should be a requirement that all passenger car driving applicants spend a few hours as a passenger in a Class 8 truck before they write their G, or class 5 license.”

Away from the truck Angela enjoys spending as much time as possible outside. Follow her on Twitter @skinnybitch_ang and you’ll see posts of her with family and friends fishing, swimming, camping and geocaching.

 

When asked what she loves about trucking she said, as a true country girl, “I love the sunrises”. She went on to say that she loves it all. She loves being a trucker. There’s no doubt in my mind that she will succeed and be a tremendous asset to the trucking industry.

 

Dream BIG or lay low!

I have some big ideas and plans for this new blog. I hope that someday I’ll look back and be amazed at where it all began.

I believe in mentorship as the direction that we need to go to make our industry better. It doesn’t matter which industry. It works in all aspects of life.

 

Some years ago I really started paying attention to this. I started small. Little things like waving to kids as they passed by. Helping someone who doesn’t seem to know the rules of the road via CB radio, chatting at a truck stop or business that I find them in. Doing it all in such a way that leaves a pleasant memory for them. I participate in Truck Driving Championships where I meet very good, upbeat drivers who I learn a lot from by watching and competing against.

That works, but it’s limited to the few people I meet everyday. So I started a website. www.crazycanuckdave.com . I started writing a few articles for Today’s Trucking. Under the handle of Crazycanuckdave I participate in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

This blog is the latest evolution in my desire to continue mentoring not just drivers, but all people who can benefit from my experiences. While I have experienced many things, I also realize that there’s far more out there.

 

My exciting new idea for this blog is to reach out to people I know that can also participate in this journey! I’ll be featuring different people who have unique ideas, challenges that I haven’t faced and followers who I don’t normally reach.

My goal for the blog is to be fresh, readable and relatable to many people.

 

In the trucking Industry I have been everything from a company driver to owning my own company with authority in 5 Provinces and 48 States. I have hauled virtually anything there is, except for bulk tankers. I have driven in the hot South and crawled along the Ice Roads in the Arctic. Challenging times and great times.

In my personal life I have survived severe head trauma, near death, and illness which all pales in comparison to the joy I have gotten from raising and providing for a wonderful family. I have been blessed beyond what I deserve.

 

If you need advice, a speaker on a topic such as Surviving Brain Injury in the workplace, Driving on the Real Ice Roads, or even a specific article for your needs please let me know.

 

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome!
Off like a herd of turtles …

Fort McMurray – May 8 2016

What started as a small brush fire south of Fort McMurray (Fort Mac) Alberta has turned into the largest wildfire in Alberta history, and prompted the largest evacuation in Canada.

Fort Mac is a pivotal city in oil-rich Alberta and is a major economic engine for Canada. Fort Mac has taken a beating over the last two years with the downturn in the global oil market. Tens of thousands of people have been laid off in the oil sands projects. Others in the city who rely on the oil sand workers to buy trucks, groceries, or ATV’s, also lost their jobs. It’s been bleak to say the least. Fortunately, the oil sands is not like an oil well that can be turned off so while new projects were put on hold, there was hope that it would all come back as oil prices rise again.

Tuesday, May 3 all of this ceased to matter. What mattered was getting out of the city alive. The brush fire turned into a monster. Voluntary evacuations turned into mandatory. Fort Mac resident Ken Carpenter said to his fiance “We aren’t under mandatory evacuation yet but we’re leaving NOW! There’s one way out of town and we’re not getting stuck in this inferno!” At 1530 (3:30 pm), with flames all around them, they left everything behind except their pets and a few possessions. Taking the only road south they headed to a friend’s place in Edmonton, 5 hours away. They couldn’t have made a better decision. Others who waited for officials to tell them to leave sat for hours in snarled traffic. Some didn’t make it to a place of refuge for days, running out of gas, food and other essentials. Trapped on a smoky highway with flames nearby, their cars stalling from lack of oxygen, Fort Mac residents faced a very uncertain future.

Today, May 8th, their future is more bleak than ever.

My heart breaks for them. I’ve been to Fort Mac many times, as have most in flatbed/equipment hauling like myself. I have friends there. My oldest son had lived there only a few months back. I understand the importance of that city to our country’s financial well-being.

The leaders of the Alberta and Canadian governments chose to take a backseat, leaving the city and neighboring municipality to fight the fire. Other communities, cities, and regular people jumped in, offering assistance immediately. Carpenter himself took a relief load of supplies to Lac La Biche where some residents were welcomed with open arms.

Canadians of all backgrounds pitched in while leaders who cut essential services like forest firefighters and ignored the danger to an important city, went on vacation and refused to declare a state of emergency until the city was razed.

Fort Mac will rise again. Canadians are resilient, hardworking and generous.

Fort Mac needs our thoughts and prayers and whatever assistance we can provide. All some have left, are memories. All will have to deal with the trauma of the fire and the endless details of insurance, rebuilding, and getting life back to a semblance of normalcy. I doubt that the city will be the same, but I believe it will be stronger. The residents are heroes to me.

No other city could have evacuated all residents, some 88,000 strong, and only lost two lives in a traffic collision fleeing in the smoke.

Stay strong Fort Mac.

off like a herd of turtles…

The origins…

I have been blessed with a little talent as a writer. At least that’s what my English Teacher used to say many years ago. My parents also said that but I always assumed they were just biased.

Life leads in many interesting ways. I ended up being a truck driver very early in my working career. I was very fortunate that when I started in the later 80’s to have a few great mentors to add to my original teacher on a small farm in Ontario.

I have always loved anything with wheels and motors. Truck driving was a natural fit for me. I love the rumble of horses under me, I can’t sleep sitting up, and seeing our beautiful continent has never grown old.

Trucking has evolved in the years since. Mentorship has gone by the wayside, but is becoming a “new” buzzword to use to show how companies are doing their part.

Who is at fault here? Where has the camaraderie gone? I pondered on those questions throughout many miles and lonely nights.

Scrap those questions!! Better yet, What can I do to make it better? When I had this epiphany I realized a few things. Drivers such as myself with 20 years or so tend to be very critical of new drivers. Yes, most drivers today, unlike my era, go from a small car to a large truck in a matter of weeks through a driving school. Companies are leery of lawsuits or harm to their equipment and drivers, so drivers have been told not to stop and help stranded motorists. I realized that unlike my mentors, I wasn’t doing enough.

There are many ways we can help today. It’s so simple that it’s embarrassing. At a truck stop, help the person backing up. If they don’t know what to do, explain it to them rather than bitching about them (put the video phone down!). At your company, help junior drivers. Talk to dispatch about problems, not to other drivers. Wave to people on the road. Dress and present yourself with pride. Be a professional in all aspects. At a weigh station be courteous and have your paperwork in order. Slow down by stopped vehicles. Give people room. Don’t throw your trash out the window. Are we going to let a few ruin it for everyone else? Many things are done from ignorance and if everyone helped as our mentors did in years past our industry and our public perception would be much better.

I work at this every day. Helping others leaves us open to criticism but I can learn from that also. I have no idea how much I have made a strangers day but I do know what a strangers kind words mean to me so I continue on. Have you ever seen those stickers on trucks “Call 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx for comments or complaints”? I have 3 MBA’s (Moving Billboard Awards) from those and zero complaints. I guess it does work…

off like a herd of turtles…