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Friday, April 19, 2024

My Lonely Early Thoughts

S. Sabik Singh, a pioneer in BC's Trucking Industry, sharing his life long experiences

………………….a journey that took us two days.

In another incident, one smart-ass trucker was sent fully-loaded to Logan Lake. But to get there, he had to go through Ashcroft, where there is a big hill. He decided to go through Kamloops and over to Merritt. On the way, his trailer tire caught fire and he quickly pulled over, off the highway. He phoned the office, which then phoned and told Mindy and I about what happened. The driver was told to leave the trailer where it was, drive 32 miles and dump the truck, and then come back and dump the transfer box. While he was to do this, the office was going to order a wrecker and transfer the 3 axle trailer to Knights in Langley to fix it. In the meantime, Mindy and I are listening to all this and I told the office to get the driver to phone me. The driver then phoned me, and I asked the driver, “Fella, what happened?” He explained that, of course, lately he hadn’t checked the oil level in the wheel hub. He proceeded to tell me that soon the wrecker will pick up his trailer, put it on a low bed, and then he can come home. I laughed and asked him whether he had a jack. He laughed at me, because there was no way I could get the tire off. I told him, “Listen, put a jack under the axle where the wheel is now melted and welded to the axle. That’s why the wheel isn’t turning. After you jack it up to clear the ground, put a chain under the axle, drape the chain over the top of the trailer frame, chain it up good and then pull the trailer with your own truck home. That way you won’t have to wait for the wrecker.” “Wow, Sab. What an idea!” he replied. He did exactly as I had told him and brought the trailer home.

Just about the same time, in the middle of January, quite a few of us full-loaded salt truck drivers were going to Williams Lake. On the way, two drivers had a big bet on the Canada- Russia game. They decided to stay at the motel at Spences Bridge and watch the game. Of course, one thing led to another, it got late, and they fell asleep. The next morning, the weather was very cold. The two truckers drove to Williams Lake and when they got there and tried to dump the loads, they couldn’t; the loads were frozen in the trucks and wouldn’t even dump. Now what! They phoned the office and were told to get bars and shovels and start picking at the frozen loads. After a few hours, still nothing would dump. By this time, Mindy and I had heard about the problem. I then made arrangements with the Williams Lake Highways yard to park the two trucks with two trailers in their garages. They said we could. After fourteen hours, the loads had somewhat thawed. The drivers then dumped the loads and came back to the mainland. It took them four days to get home, but they were good, safe and sound, and still bitching.

One of these guys was now sent on another trip loaded to 83 Mile House with four other truckers, fully loaded as usual. It was a Friday. The five of them headed down and stopped at Mile 83 Restaurant. This was a place that old, old buggy horses would stop a long time ago – it was a nice place with a beautiful big open fireplace. Then this head trucker with a western star headed down the road. It was snowing hard and the roads weren’t cleared, so they came back a few hours later. They phoned the wreckers at 100 Mile House, but the wrecker wasn’t’ available for the next six to seven hours.

Mindy and I then got a phone call from the 100 Mile House police. They told us that one of salt trucks was in a ravine on a side road. We then called the wreck driver, who said, “We went to check, Mr. Singh. We are sorry to say this, but maybe you should come down and deal with this.”

I grabbed extra clothing, some food, money, and left Langley to the crash site. While talking to the police, I was told that they hadn’t seen the driver. They did find that the driver side door was open and since the truck was lying on its side, the driver could be under the load of the salt and truck. This was very difficult for me for hear. I phoned my mom and told her to go to this driver’s home to talk to his mom and keep her calm until I could find out what had happened. As I was driving to Mile 83, I thought what a tragedy and a bad accident. How do I handle this?

When I got to the accident site, I talked to the police, saw the mess and tried to dig around. It was snowing, dark, and very cold. But what was funny was that the radio, tools and the two-way system were gone. Well, maybe thieves or neighbors had come and taken everything. I quickly phoned my mom, who was still at the driver’s mom’s place and told her that I had just got there and will keep her posted.

From the time of the accident to the time I got there, it was snowing, cold and I was tired and worried to death. I felt bad because I didn’t know exactly what had happened. So after spending three hours at the crash site, I came back to Mile 83 Restaurant’s warm fireplace. I was sitting there alone when two drivers came in from 100 Mile House, their trucks all covered with snow, ice and dirt. They came for coffee – I went over and asked, “How are you? Did you see any of our trucks on your way?” They said they saw four truck and trailers parked in at a pub in 100 Mile House. I said, “Thank you, guys.” I paid for their coffee and then they went.

I phoned the Sandman, who we had an account with for our drivers. Since the Sandman belonged to Gaglardi, the Highway Minister’s son, we had a good arrangement with them. Finally I got the phone number of the pub – asked them about the four truck and trailers. They told me they had just left. Now I had no radio or phone contact with them so I quickly got hold of a trucker. “Going to 100 Mile?’ I asked? “My trucks are sitting on Channel 1 on the CB or Cannel 10. Tell them to stop at mile 83.”

One and a half hours later, the truckers pulled in. They came in, had a coffee and made arrangements to get the truck and trailer out as by this time the wrecker had come. I phoned my mom and told her that everything was okay, but that it had just snowed too much. “Oh, thank God, everything is okay,” my mom said. She left the driver’s house and went back to the farm.

We got the truck and trailer out and I followed them all the way home, a journey that took us two days.

I remember one time when one of the truck drivers in the company had parked his trailer at the corner of #10 Highway and Highway 99. The driver phoned me and said, “My trailer brakes won’t release. Maybe, Sab, you could come by.” I didn’t mind as I was going to Richmond from Langley anyways. When I got to where he was, boy his trailer didn’t move. So we decided to get a small empty can, put some diesel in it, and light it; the heat would thaw out the air line valve. Of course, the truck was hooked up to the trailer with the air pressure still on – so when it thawed out, we could tell that it was okay to go. As we were waiting, the driver went under the trailer to check the air lines. The air line, which had a buildup of heat and pressure, broke and fell into the bucket with the flame. Air came blowing into the bucket of fire and some of it came out and burnt the driver’s face, eyelashes and eyebrows a little. Boy, that was a close call. I quickly ran back to the truck and put the emergency brakes on. They fixed the air line and everything was okay.