From Where I Sit – A Helluva Week (and it Ain’t Over Yet)

Last week in this space, I wrote about Roy starting a trucking job deep in the bush north of Lac La Biche. It was a challenging route with a section of ice road; narrow, winding stretches; steep climbs, and the need to announce, via radio, your whereabouts on the road.

But as with most things it was getting better with each trip. That is until the unthinkable happened. Roy pulls a 36-foot-long end-dump gravel trailer. When the box is hoisted fully it extends 34 feet into the air. Etched forever into his mind is the sight, in his passenger side mirror, of the loaded trailer tipping over in s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n.

And so began an experience that we could have surely done without. First the silver-lining stuff. The tractor did not tip over, which usually happens in these situations. Roy was not hurt. Thank God. He had paused to let two body-job trucks with pup trailers unload first. Had he been impatient and anxious to squeeze in an extra load that day, he would surely have killed the driver in the adjacent truck cab. (Sadly, because of greed or stupidity, on many jobs there are drivers who flout the rules of safety and common sense so they can outmanoeuvre the more prudent drivers.)

Unfortunately, the dark-cloud list is longer. This incident brought to an abrupt end the first trucking job Roy had in nearly a year. Despite murmurings and wishful thinking and tea leaf reading, the trucking sector is still very much suffering. The trailer itself is only two years old, has fewer than 30,000 kilometres on it and is, in our opinion, a writeoff. Unfortunately it didn’t last as long as the loan payments; there is a significant amount still owing.

We are now in the throes of the insurance process. Roy was able to haul the trailer home the night of the incident and has since taken it to Edmonton to be examined by an insurance adjuster and shop foreman. We await the recommendation of the adjuster but believe it will be written off.

Estimates for the parts and labour to repair it are at about $55,000 so far. A rental trailer is not our first choice for getting Roy back to work. The recession has caused dealers to unload their inventory of for-sale trailers at large auction sales, leaving next to nothing to choose from on the lot. The tractor unit sustained damage to the fifth wheel and springs. The out-of-pocket costs so far are about $2,300 but considerably less than the insurance deductible of $5,500.

Then of course is the impact on mind and body. And sleep patterns. Yes, this could have been much, much worse with deadly consequences. Thank God, it wasn’t. But dealing with the uncertainty, the loss of income, and the direct financial impact is huge. And frankly, It’s a test we would have rather not had. It’s been a helluva week, from where I sit.

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