Status: Single (Never Married)
Interested in: Women
…Oh, sorry, I just realized it’s not that kind of a story Hahaha…
Life began a little different for me than most Canadian drivers. I was born in Nicaragua into a family of four. Being the youngest in the family and growing up in Nicaragua in the ’80s was no easy task as the country was in political turmoil and then a civil war broke out. I was young but I still recall things like having to flee our home more than a couple of times and running out into the streets that were full of people.
We are a close family and Mom and Dad always knew how to take care of us. We had a family farm where we had cattle and we grew rice, corn, watermelon, cantaloupe and a few other fruits. Dad also had a small trucking business where the family was involved but all that was left behind when we left the country due to the political situation. The main reason we left was because of the mandatory military service where all boys had to enlist in the army when they reached the age of 15. If you did not enlist you would be put in prison. My brother and some other extended family members were fast approaching that age and so the difficult decision was made to leave.
Mom and I left the country first but my brother has epilepsy and my Dad had to stay with him so that he could be examined by a specialist in order to get his travel documents. Mom and I lived in Mexico for about a year where she took odd jobs like cleaning houses and working in sweat-shops. While there we had to move to a few different places just to survive. One that stands out in my mind is a concrete building, that was under construction. We lived there with two other families that we had met in Mexico. It is not an experience that I would wish on anyone. The place had only one entrance and there was only one tap with running water. We all showered with a bucket and heated the water with a homemade heating element and that was friggin’ scary! By this time Dad had made it to Mexico with my brother and he took a job as a mechanic while Mom worked in a sweat-shop.
Mom was forced to take me with her to work, as there was no one that they could leave me with, but the shop owner had a very strict no children rule. Mom assured the owner I would be no trouble and then she made me understand that my behaviour at the shop meant the difference between us eating or not eating.
At first we would take this journey to the shop bright and early, six days a week. The trip consisted of walking to the bus, transferring to a train (metro) and then more walking. Once we got there I have to sit still and for a young kid that was extremely boring. At first I would sit and watch all the ladies working at their stations and then after a while I started to make myself useful by grabbing a broom and sweeping around the work stations. When the owner saw this he quickly took Mom and me aside to have a talk. I could see that it was about me but in the end, he decided that it was no big problem as long as I was making myself useful and not getting in the way or impeding the workers. After a while, I started taking on the task of cleaning sewing machines. The owner saw me and asked if I knew what I was doing. After watching me for a while his only instruction was to be careful and not to damage the machines. Later I graduated to the kitchen where I had the job of making coffee, warming up food and running errands to the little pulperia (aka convenience store) for anyone and everyone.
The time in Mexico was just part of our journey towards a future that I had no knowledge of because, in my opinion, I was just fine living in Mexico. Little did I know what lay ahead.
We applied to immigrate to Canada many times and were rejected each time and then one day we were finally accepted. When we arrived in Canada we were given the choice of living in Victoria BC or Edmonton AB. Considering the fact that we came from a warm country I think my parents made a mistake when they decided that Edmonton would be our home.
When we arrived we didn’t know an ounce of the English language and were quickly taught, “My name is”, “Thank You” and “You are Welcome”. We went through a process where we met people that had immigrated from other countries and they helped by showing us the way of this new life,
Being here in Canada was a struggle for me as I was held back in school due to not speaking the language. I felt lost and there was a lot of frustration. Elementary school was definitely not easy.
When we settled in Edmonton Mom and Dad took jobs as Janitors which involved the whole family. By the end of my Jr. High years our family had sub-contracts in several locations around the city such as Bingo Halls and Overwaitea – Save on Foods which is now known only as Save on Foods. This carried me into High School but once finished I took a lead of my own and took a paper route, then worked as a busboy/waiter/bartender. Later as a side job, I did DJ gigs for extra cash and even did some carpet/flooring installation. I guess you could say I was a little ambitious and more than willing to try anything at the time.
One summer when things were a bit slow for me, Alvaro Peralta, a friend of the family, came over to visit we got talking about work. He jokingly said he had a job for me as a trucker’s swamper. I in turn jokingly replied sure what the hell I had nothing to do so I give it a try. Little did I know that this was the moment that would change my life. At the time I had no interest nor the desire to follow my father’s footsteps and drive a truck. Alvaro is the reason that I am driving truck today and whenever I see him I don’t hesitate to blame him for putting me in this position – and then we laugh.
Alvaro had this dedicated little run in a 5-ton Hino body job from Edmonton to Calgary with a stopover in Red Deer. I had no idea what was happening but as it turned out my ride along on that first day also became a driving test.
Once we were fully loaded we hit the highway. We were chit chatting away when, just before Lacombe, he suddenly pulled over on the shoulder of the highway and told me to jump in the driver seat! I told him I had never driven a truck before and I was not comfortable doing it. He replied, “You know how to drive a standard so I know you won’t have a problem.” Then we sat for a good half hour while I listened to him giving me instructions on what to do. Yes I know we were doing things ass backwards, and we laugh about it today, but it worked as I caught on real quick and drove to Airdrie. When we got there we switched back and he said I was a natural! I have to admit that it made me smile as I felt kind of proud.
Alvaro and I worked together for a few years but things changed as the freight volume grew. He decided he did not want to upgrade his truck so I was not sure what or where to go. He finally took another job delivering Windows for Genow Windows and Doors where he also needed a swamper. We did all their city deliveries and out into the surrounding areas. It was originally a contract through Dynamax before it was bought out by TransForce.
One day Alvaro decided he did not want to continue driving and that is where my very 1st Owner Operator experience came in. I bought his truck with a job and I have to admit that it was no cake walk. It was a real learning experience having to deal with hired help. It was unfamiliar territory that led to many lessons to be learned. One of many of those lessons was getting pulled over in Leduc scale and finding out that, while I drove a truck that had hydraulic brakes, it still required a Q endorsement for air brakes because it was an air over hydraulic system. The DOT officer had a chuckle at my ignorance but still said, “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.” He proceeded to give me a fine and told me to get my air brakes endorsement. Which I did – yep lesson learned.
I had a tough time with swampers and the business started suffering so I tried to get my own freight and quickly learned it was not that easy. This led me to Robbie Roewrig at Interline Tractor Services where I was forced to park my truck and take a job as a body job driver. Robbie was well connected and he provided service to big names, Quick X, Kleysen, Rosenau, and TransWestern, now Vitran.
In 1998-99 decided to get my class 1. I practiced for it in a 1985 GMC General with a 15speed with deep reduction. You know the one that you throw in reverse and have your lunch and still have time to enjoy your coffee before you hit the dock. I then went through Mike’s Driver Education where they had the rollover program. When I got my class1 I wanted to move quickly for more opportunities but Robbie said I was not ready for highway runs so I decided to move on.
I hired on with Big Freight as a rookie driver for Owner Operator Dwayne Dyok. He took me under this wing and I learned a lot from him about deck work while running most of Canada and northern U.S. I worked for Big Freight up until 2001 when I went back to work for Robbie. By then he was more comfortable giving me highway runs. I ran Alberta for him with a mixture of city P/Ds. I stayed there for a while until I got the urge to set out on my own as an Owner Op again! I went to work for OCTS in the container world where my steed was a gorgeous 1988 Freightliner Cab Over. It had a setback front axle and was powered by NTC series 365(444 block) with 9speed. It had been an Alberta truck all its life originally owned by Bridge Brand (Gordon Food Services) and off into the sunset I went.
I have experienced rise and failure in the business and in family life but we all make sacrifices not only ourselves but also for the ones we love and care about dearly. This brought me to meet with Mr. Ken Denning who was witness to my fall and rise again. I have a difficult time believing anyone that says no one ever helped them to rise again after they had fallen. There are failures along the way but it is how you rise above, get up and dust yourself off to continue on your journey that counts. It allows you to take them in stride and use them as lessons.
I was lucky enough to be able to own that 1988 cabover twice as I was once again given the opportunity to dust myself off and as my job changed, I carried on to upgrade to a 1998 379 Pete with a 3406E Cat engine
That is when it was time to be on my own again and contracted out to AVS and Jim Stieb, learning that there was yet another employer that did not just hire people on their good looks! Most, as I understood, they come recommended.
Throughout I have taken little bits and pieces of knowledge from everyone I have worked both with, and for, and I often remember those tips when I get in a difficult situation. I’ve learned that for most drivers trucking is not just a job. It is something they take pride in. They take pride in the industry and will often share thoughts and views on what you can do improve yourself both as a driver and a businessman. I have met and admire many former employers and I have accidentally met people under strange circumstances that I can honestly say have become true friends.
As time went on I got more involved in maintaining and caring for my trucks. Everyone has their own ideas and you can be unique as you see fit.
I have had a couple of accidents and done dumb things at times like the time I was driving my Hino in the winter time and slid into a house under construction. Another time I was picking up a 20-foot container and had it put on with doors facing forward. Yes, I was guilty of some rookie moves. One that stands out in my mind was when I was unloading at the city dump and had a mattress stuck in my trailer. I used a pry bar to get it out and of course, it slipped, came back and hit me and cut my lip open. There was blood everywhere – talk about a good day gone bad at a blink of an eye! The only thing I was extremely happy about was that I still had my teeth in my mouth. One winter I was spraying the gravel box when I slipped, next thing I knew I woke up flat on my back on the ground looking at the sky. There was a time that I would beat myself up for making silly mistakes like that but it does no good. The sad part is I don’t think I am done yet.
As it sits right now I am currently running for Blu’s Northern and running my resent steed a 2005 Freightliner classic powered by a Series 60 Detroit with long legs and an Eaton 10C. So far it has kept me on my toes and I have been slowly upgrading it to near satisfactory status. It is still a work in progress and it keeps my mind busy – busy when it comes on what to do NEXT but I enjoy every moment of it good and bad.
Thru it all, I have got so many people to thank. I am sure I will forget a few names but first and foremost my parents Paz and Noel who are the foundation of who I have grown to be and the reason for my existence. They are the most outstanding supporting people in my life. Robbie Rowrig, he may not know this but he helped me understand and learn the ropes in the world of flat decking. I was always happy to listen to his trucking stories of running north it is funny because I get to do that now. Ken Denning, for really beating me up back on my feet. He is one rough and tough man to work for, and some may have other words to describe him, but beyond all that, I came to understand what he meant and his point behind it. Ted Winterholt, which led me to Jim Steib who was kind enough to sell me my 1st Pete and let me be part of his crew. I was was particularly happy to see what that Pete turned out to be and sad to see it go.
All the unexpected friendships built along the way: Marty Bison, we go way back to CP Rail/OCTS days, he led me to a flat deck job working for very good people Gail & Tulley Osborne. Dennis Milton, believe it or not, he gave me the courage to be an O/O even when he said I was crazy. Tina Clarke for always being there to lend an ear and to see us more than just clients. Tony Horrobin, who never wasted a chance to bust my chops every time but I could always count on his help. Rafail Proios, who is always just a phone call away, to tackle every situation, even if it is just a bitch fest!. Allan Hoffman, who I respect very much and admire. Don’t let his silence fool ya, he is super awesome and it is an honour to work with this man and call him a friend.
Here is to Happy Trails and Safe Travels to one and all. Cheers! It has been a pleasure to share a small part of my life with you all.
See you on the road less traveled.