My name is Mark, and I have been a truck driver in the West and East Kootenays for 17 years. I work for a contract trucking company based out of the West Kootenay. We handle many types of cartage ranging from dry goods, all types of alcohol, and many types of perishables. Included are fruits and vegetables, bread, milk products (liquid and cultured), cheeses, fresh seafood, all types of frozen food-service products, and ice cream.
I am writing this for those who know very little, or nothing at all about the routines, procedures, and responsibilities of a trucking company carrying perishable food products.
To start with, I would like to focus on all the small communities from Crescent Valley to Nakusp, and Nelson to Kaslo. We service all of the restaurants, golf courses, gas stations, markets, liquor stores, beer and wine stores, liquor retail store outlets, hot springs, and hotels.
This summer has been a dry and hot one, and many travelers have come this way because of it. Kaslo and Nelson in particular are very beautiful towns in the summer, and they have shown our company an extremely busy season for all of our contracts — in fact, the busiest summer in many years. We are very happy for all of our customers who prospered from this year’s seasonal traffic, as it doesn’t last very long.
During the course of the summer I have had a few local citizens of these communities and some travelers approach me while doing deliveries in the downtown cores, most of them concerned with the noise of the reefer unit of the truck, and some uptight because I have blocked a lane so traffic can’t drive through.
I apologize to you all. I am only trying to do my job. I don’t do it to annoy anyone, and now feel I need to explain my actions.
As mentioned, we carry many types of perishable food products, so, with extremely hot weather I need to keep that truck cold. We are contracted and obligated to keep each type of perishable item at proper temperature. To achieve this, the system must operate all the time to work efficiently. I try to park as close to each receiving door as possible to make deliveries quick.
One of our main concerns, as well as our customers, is receiving their orders at a reasonable time so that they have fresh, properly chilled food to prepare for their customers. I know all of my customers trust me to do all of the above, and I am very proud of the service that I have provided for the last 17 years. Ask any one of them, and they will tell you.
We have even gone to the trouble of having the decibel levels of the reefer units tested by the RDCK to make sure all units are operating at a safe and legal noise requirement. Test results showed all units operating at safe levels, as dictated by federal government regulations.
I have heard many excuses why I should turn off my reefer unit or move my truck. As an operator of a large truck, I can tell you we have very few options as to where we can park safely to do our deliveries.
I had one lady start taking pictures of me as I worked in the lane behind a local restaurant. She was upset that she had to drive around the block to her destination. She threatened that if I blocked her way again, she would take the pictures to the proper authorities to deal with. My guess is that it added an extra two or three minutes to her alarmingly busy schedule.
I am sure that some people don’t realize there are designated service lanes for all trucks to use for delivery purposes. In our case, we have a bulkhead door on the passenger side of the vehicle where all the frozen products are kept.
I feel it is my responsibility as the driver to make sure that my helper and I are safe as we have to climb in and out of that door all day long. The rest of the product gets brought out the back of the truck, down a ramp on a two-wheel hand dolly and we then work toward our customers receiving areas on either side of the truck, thus making us vulnerable to injury if cars drive past on either side.
My plea to all residents and users of Kaslo’s, Nelson’s, and other surrounding communities’ downtown cores is to please respect your local businesses delivery vehicles, give us the room we need to service your community, and please try to be patient. Plug your ears if your don’t like the noise of the reefer units, please don’t park in any commercial loading zone at any time, even if you are dying from lack of caffeine.
After all, we are making sure your dining experiences and grocery purchases are as fresh as you would expect them to be. We are also community members and, on occasion go shopping and enjoy dining out like everyone else. I would never forgive myself if I took my family for dinner to a restaurant I had delivered to and they ended up in the hospital with food poisoning.
So if you don’t have a comment worthy of encouragement or a friendly gesture that we can cheerfully reply to, please just let us do our work, as it is a very labour intensive job, and our days are very long. Thanks.
My name is Mark, and I am a concerned truck driver.