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18 Sep, 37 tweets, 15 min read
What goes into an average shift driving a lorry?

Thought I would live tweet about my shift tonight. Might be interesting, or not, either way I have few remaining opportunities to show you into a world you may not otherwise ever see.

Feel free to share if you wish 🚛
2350 Saturday night, I am due to start at 0115 Sunday and the depot is an hour drive from my house.

This is not unusual in that a depot is often in the middle of nowhere, but an hour is more than far enough

Either way, long day ahead. Coffee. Won't be back here until gone 5pm
0105 arrived at depot. Hour driving done already, although this doesn't count as work, it still contributes to overall fatigue.

To be clear. I do not feel I am special or unique. Every hour of the day, 365 days of the year, a lorry driver is starting a shift somewhere in the UK
0115. Let's begin. Booked on and I am legally responsible for this behemoth from this point.

That means thoroughly check everything to make sure it is safe for the road.

This is the one part of the shift that still gives me a small buzz. Kick the tyres and light the fires 🔥
Sort out the digital tachograph. This is the computer that monitors my driving and working hours to hold me (and my employer) accountable and ensures I am sticking to all the rules around driving.

An extremely important part of what we do and vital for road safety.
Let's go find a trailer as we need to actually deliver something. In this case, refridgerated.

Again I am legally responsible for the load, and to my employer for making sure it gets where it needs to go in the right condition (and at the right temperature).

Plenty to mess up.
And it's a good job we checked. Since someone has kindly left a metal bar on the floor unsecured.

In the case of an emergency stop this becomes a missile and it's heading straight for my head.

Sort that out and check everything else.
Now, the next opportunity to kill yourself (or someone else).

Connecting the trailer... Get this wrong or get distracted and it can roll away or you can drop it on the floor.

Happens more often than you think.

We split couple here, which adds another level of complication.
0145 and we are checked, safe, secure and ready to head off into the night.

We have best part of 2 and a half hour of driving ahead before the first delivery. So out comes Audible.

See you in the West Country 🤙🏼
0240 and the briefest of stops to check on the fridge. Outside air temp is 16 degrees so it's soon a major problem if the fridge isn't doing what it needs to be.

This product has to stay between 2 and 5 degrees and so we are all good 👍🏻
0420, 117 miles driven. Arriving at our first store and I am pleased to see that I have arrived ahead of the stores own delivery which means no delays at this early part of the shift

Rain has just arrived though, which makes reversing into the black on the blindside challenging
Welcome to the 'just in time' supply chain, where everything arrives precisely for when it is needed. This milk will be straight out into shop for sales today.

Has to be moved by hand to get there though. Each one of these weighs 200kg and I have over 100 to get rid of today 🥵
We also have to collect the empties. Milk is delivered in 'point of sale' containers, known as 'tets' to minimise handling and maintain food hygiene standards, but they have value and all need to be collected when empty and returned for cleaning and reloading.
Low bridges are a constant occupational hazard. It's your responsibility to know the height of your vehicle (in imperial and metric and how to convert) and to plan your route.

If you hit a bridge the Traffic Commissioner is likely to revoke or suspend your vocational licence.
0520. 123 miles driven. Arrive at store number 2. The endless gates we have to try and get someone to open to we can actually deliver.

We ring a bell. A bell nobody ever hears. Why in the 21st century are we still ringing bells to attract attention?

Anybody? Never mind.
Finally we get through to the manager on the phone and we're in. Reversing on the good side this time but still a tight little yard. Have a look at the clearance on the parked trailer.

Being able to do this quickly is key to the job. You can waste a lot of time if inexperienced
More empties on and we can see after only 2 deliveries, how this has already become some sort of geometric puzzle from hell

Every stop those empties have to come off out of the way so we can get to the product

We do this all ourselves, not the store employees, and this is why
0655, 115 miles driven. Store 3. Good morning. Sunday has landed and with it comes the daylight

Which means the hours when the dark thoughts are most likely to arrive have passed.

This job is lonely and can really mess with your mental health, you must always be on the watch.
Having almost been on the clock for 6 hours. The Working Time Directive is shortly due to bite me unless I record sufficient break.

So we will sit here and scroll twitter for 15 minutes while we pretend sitting in the same seat I have spent the last 6 hours in is relaxing
Break done and 0710 we are ready to try and get this gate open 😅

Eventually we are in and half way through the deliveries now. Just this little reverse to get on the bay. More awkward than it looks

Check out the yellow post on my nearside ready to bite the corner off the cab
And yes, sadly, it all comes off by hand, by the driver. As mentioned these are heavy things, top heavy and very unstable. We learn the technique over time.

Supposed to do 1 at a time, so this method is my choice. But trying to get things done: we have a lot to get through.
Yes I asked the scissor lift Operator to film me and yes he probably thought I was a prat 😅

I do not mind the manual labour, I have always worked this way. But I am beginning to feel it now. As you can appreciate the jobs involving this sort of work are least popular!
You can see the problem with the empties here. Still more deliveries to get round. All this is in the way!

But when you change the way you want your milk, mostly driven by price. This is the result.

Doorstep deliveries a thing the past now it's time to get heavy 🚛
Ever got angry at this?

I cannot tell you the amount of times I have been barked at by whoever, who thinks I am here to inconvenience them

I am here trying to use a toilet and grab a drink. We have so few places you can even get into with an HGV in the UK. Please be patient
0830. 172 miles driven. Which brings me on to these places: Our motorway service network.

I have driven 4 hours 20 minutes which means I am due a break of 30 minutes to reset my driving time. I have no choice but to use these places but they are hideous places to spend time.
Drivers (or companies) with deep pockets may choose to spend a night here for security reasons. However, that will cost you up to £50 per night to do so

And of course you all know the food standard and prices on the motorway... sooner we are on our way the better

Lots to do!
30 mins isn't much of a break and when you actually stop is usually when the tiredness hits. Now is no different.

What can I tell you about the rules? Well, everything, but not in 140 characters. It's way too complex.

One way or another. I must be finished by 1615. 15 hours
Why is it important to understand the complex rules around driving hours?

I don't get paid for breaks. Very few of us do.

We are paid by the hour, all breaks deducted. So taking more breaks than you need cuts into your wages quite significantly on a long day.
Anyway, onwards ever onwards. 0940, 202 miles driven. Store 4. This is a really awkward one and without blowing my own trumpet I do make it looks easy.

Plenty of damage you can do here. Choose the building, the fridge or the wall?
1055. 225 miles driven. We have arrived at our last store. Here is what the loading bay sees. Shows some of the precision I am aiming for. I need the scissor lift to line up within an inch or two.

The store has been open just under an hour.

'Just in time'. This is the aim.
And this is happening at every supermarket in every corner of the UK, every single day of the year. So we can all buy what we need, every minute. Milk, bread, everything.

A delivery every 6 minutes, or thereabouts. Can you imagine the scale and complexity to make that happen?
1200, Last ones off, and didn't spill a drop. Doesn't always happen like that 😅 Couldn't find anyone to sign for it, usual nonsense.

Delivery comes every day of the year. Still act like it's a big surprise when I come looking for you!

It's me. The milk dude. Don't hide !
Empty trailer. So the fridge can go off and I don't have to listen to the roar for the rest of the driving. Industrial fridges are noisy!

Still a heavy trailer with the empties.

Now just the small matter of the drive back. I may be done, but I am also over 100 miles from depot
Always against wearing hours-worked like a badge of honour. There is nothing more toxic than listening to someone brag about the long hours. If it were a 9 to 5 we would have long been heading home by now

I would like to see this change with the industry but won't hold my breath
1500 back at depot. Miles driven 338. The last bit of the day. Just the dash back to base. Best part of 3 hours solid driving and then the usual admin/routine to get everything ready for the next driver.

First things first. Empty cages off and wash out the trailer. Gleaming 💫
1530. Put all that fuel back in. Something we didn't talk about. I have a performance standard to meet for fuel consumption. Currently 8.5 miles per gallon. The truck tells me I did 8.6 for the shift.

Not bad considering the weight and the need to crack on with things 😇
1600 and we are done. For a crowd pleasing 15 hour day.

A quick word from our sponsor and then I will leave you to enjoy your Sunday.

Thank you so much everybody for all your words and retweets. It has been extremely humbling.

All I set out to do was to bring you the truth.

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More from @thelorryist

29 Aug
I arrived to work today to discover a £7 per hour pay rise. A 40% increase... almost overnight.

There are no drivers, things are about to get a bit tasty.

Completely unsustainable, of course, so guess what happens to prices next?

All your shit comes by lorry. All of it.
You might be asking what happened? Where have all the drivers gone and why?

Please check out my thread on my profile or below and it will help to explain.

Please also retweet and share it if you wish.

This has gone absolutely mad to the point I have no hope of keeping up or even seeing most of it.

So thank you. To everyone, for your replies, contributions, links, and most importantly those who have shared and retweeted.

If you need to reach me, please DM.
Read 4 tweets
29 Jun
Seeing news reports of a shortage of lorry drivers and a worry of empty shelves? You might be asking why.

I will try and explain a bit. Broadly, since as long as I can remember, there has been a shortage of lorry drivers. This is not a job people in the 21st century, want 1/ Image
It's hard work, the hours are long
It can be dirty, heavy manual work
It's dangerous
It's complex and highly regulated
It's bad for your health and your diet
It's bad for your family and social life
It is poorly paid, per hour, on average
The cost of entry is high

2/ Image
You could argue, wrongly, that little has changed in the profession since the 70s. This is the public perception of the role.

So British people don't want to do it, and haven't wanted to for over 20 years. This is not a new problem.

But in 2004. The EU welcomed new members
Read 7 tweets

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