“Sometimes the nerves lie bare”

Reading time: approx. 4 minutes
Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: Thomas Meinicke, Seifert Logistics Group

The corona pandemic once again shows how important professional drivers are for the supply of society. Torsten Busch is on the road for the Seifert Logistics Group with an articulated truck with a 13.60-metre tautliner trailer in local transport in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. For motionist.com he reports how he experiences his job in 2020.

Unfortunately, we truck drivers are still considered by many people to be the ones who clog the roads with their trucks. But the Corona pandemic has made the public much more aware that we are doing an important job. Since the first lockdown in spring, more people who have nothing else to do with it finally understand what logistics means for our society. I think that’s good – even if we had to get into such an exceptional situation first.

In my opinion, most of the economy takes place on the roads. We drivers don’t want to annoy anyone, we are just doing our job. I would like people to shift down a gear before they judge us. You can also take that quite literally: If a car cannot overtake a truck on a country road, where trucks are only allowed to run at 60 km/h, it is annoying for the driver – of course! But the fact that one or two small car drivers start breakneck manoeuvres and force us to brake pointlessly is simply not necessary.

In the Corona pandemic, the importance of the work of Torsten Busch and his colleagues is demonstrated once again: as a truck driver, he is on the road every day to deliver goods reliably and safely to their destination.

Not a desk type

I enjoy doing this job very much. Because I’m quite honest: I’m not a desk type. I have my daily schedule at the wheel – and when everything is done, that’s when I finish work. On the road I often meet other drivers and have a chat. Those are the things I enjoy. But I’m not the kind of person who spends all day at the snack bar around lunchtime. I do my work, and afterwards I look forward to going home. Then I can still organise my day myself. I like that.

Overtime for toilet paper

In spring there was a lot to do. Especially during the time when people apparently thought the toilet paper was running out. In some places I thought there would be no tomorrow – that was really an intense time. At Seifert Logistics Group we have a temporary storage facility for a large manufacturer of hygiene products. That’s also where we run the shuttle tours between the factory and the warehouse. The machines run 24 hours a day, and everything that is not directly needed goes to the temporary storage. When sales increase as they did in March and April, or now again in autumn, they produce virtually directly from the assembly line to the truck. There are no more shuttle transfers, but we bring the articles directly from the factory to the supermarkets. When the goods in the shops were sometimes very scarce, I used to drive the 40-tonne truck around with only five pallets because they were absolutely necessary. This does not happen in “normal” times.

Corona regulations cost time

My work itself has changed little this year, but the conditions around it have of course changed a lot. I couldn’t just work from home, so the employer gave us emergency kits with disinfectants, gloves and masks and informed us about how to deal responsibly with the virus. Especially when we had contact with the customers – during loading and unloading. I have my routines, and all hand movements are in place. But now there are new procedures: I need the mask, I have to disinfect my hands and I have to make sure that I keep enough distance. That takes time, although not much. And even if everything has been practised in this way for a while now, sometimes I have to remind myself to really think of everything. And let me say: I have the feeling that people were more sensitive to the whole thing in spring. Many people are probably simply overwrought by the topic of Corona.

Professional drivers must stick together

When I come to the customer now and register, the atmosphere is not always the best. That doesn’t apply everywhere, but you can already tell. Due to the distance rule, you sometimes have to wait in front of the door, but the one or other driver is in a bit of a hurry. Actually we should stick together, we are all in the same boat. But sometimes our nerves lie bare. On the road it’s not as relaxed as it was in spring, that’s a fact. The streets were free then, now it looks different again.

Improving the image of truck drivers

I really like my job and can recommend it. With the employer, I think it should be a give and take. The door swings to both sides: If I am reliable as an employee and my boss notices “I can rely on him”, then I can also approach him if I need help and would like to have a day off, for example, because of private appointments. Young people probably have the wrong idea about this job.

This makes me all the more pleased that my employer, the Seifert Logistics Group, is doing something for drivers and wants to improve the image of logistics. The management has supported the “Die Wirtschaftsmacher” initiative from the very beginning. There, the “Logistikhelden” campaign presents colleagues from all areas of the industry with their stories – it shows what we all achieve in logistics.

Harald Seifert, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Seifert Logistics Group, is personally committed to moving people and increasing interest in the logistics industry. His employee Jana Giuliano, a forklift driver at the Ehingen site, was portrayed for the “Logistikhelden” campaign. Her photo can be seen on the side of a trailer travelling in southern Germany.

I think it’s a pity that interest in our profession has declined in such a way. If more people decided to take up the job, it would also take the pressure off us colleagues: if we had more energy, it would be more relaxed for everyone, because the work would be better distributed! The fact that so many drivers from other countries are on the ramps sometimes simply causes communication problems: When many of them can’t make themselves understood at all and only silently show the shop number on their mobile phone display, I can understand the shipper when he gets fed up after the 20th time. A certain amount of communication is simply important, otherwise all this will just slow down the traffic.

Nothing works without trucks

Our customers, above all, know how important our job is. We sometimes drive to companies that would be lost without us. A sparkling wine producer, for example, is located in a valley without a railway siding. The company knows that nothing works for them without trucks. In the first lockdown, the employees gave us drivers a small package of goodies with every delivery to show us how much they appreciate our work. They have really pulled this off for a quarter of a year. I thought that was great! And it’s just one example of several wonderful experiences during the Corona period. The population should really be aware of this: without us there would be no champagne on the supermarket shelf!
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