Driver finds peace in a trucking doghouse
On the night of September 4, 2014, Jean-Claude Richard was returning from a long journey in the Maritimes and was going to make a delivery to Plattsburgh. At 11 p.m. he suffered a panic attack. Feeling suffocated and not “seeing clearly”, he got out of his truck and took a walk to regain his senses.
“This had never happened to me. I made a success of my night. I made my delivery to Plattsburgh and I returned directly to my home in Beauce, ”he recalls. Believing he had a sore throat from choking, a doctor prescribed him syrup containing codeine to help him sleep. Everything went well for a week and then, on the night of September 14, another panic attack.
“It was my last day on the job as a long haul trucker,” says Richard. “I saw a psychiatrist, psychologists. I no longer saw myself driving a truck. I had a burnout. “
In September 2015, at age 58, he enrolled in a welding course where he was doing very well, but four months later he quit.
“I couldn’t go on anymore, I was sleeping in my classes because of my medication,” he says.
Thanks to his insurance company, Robert was able to benefit from the services of an occupational therapist. She asked him if he would like to come in and sit in a truck.
“Don’t drive, just sit. She then asked me if I could start driving a truck again, but locally.
He drove for a month with a trucker friend, Jacques Vaillancourt. “That’s how I came back to trucking. Robert told me, referring to his job as an operator for the Béton de l’Amiante concrete batching plant in Black Lake, Quebec, “and that’s where I started over. It has been four years now.
Richard rediscovered his passion for trucking.
“What I like about this job is that you participate in the success of the concrete recipe,” he explains.
The truck driver plays an important role. He must be able to assess whether the concrete mixed in the tank corresponds to the product he must deliver to the customer.
“The concrete we deliver should have a sag of 80mm (four inches), more or less. The truck driver has a role to play in the quality of the product. As the mixture of stone, sand, cement powder and water is poured into the mixer truck, the truck driver should watch and listen to see if the concrete is adequate. He must be able to visually confirm that the consistency is the right one, ”he explains.
“I delivered concrete for the construction of a bridge whose sag was to be 675 to 750 millimeters. It’s clear as water. You have to [ensure] than concrete [doesn’t contain] too much air, which happened on my first three trips. It is possible to add viscosity modifier liquid on the job site, but I had the idea to slow down the rotation of the tank to a minimum and the air level was perfect afterwards.
Richard started a new career in trucking at the age of 59 and discovered a sector in which he thrives and which fascinates him.
“Concrete is the only material that will change between the factory and its destination. The driver is responsible for the integrity of the product. It’s a motivating job, it’s a big job that requires judgment and skills, ”he says. “I discovered another type of transport, a transport that gave me a second breath of life. And I thank my colleagues for helping me succeed in my second career.