Thursday 16 October 2014

Time to move on

Hello hello hello, someone has asked a question, so instead of trying to cram the answer into a comment, I will give you the full Monty here in another post. Crafty eh! Look to my readers for ideas on what to write about, saves getting my knickers in a twist as I delve into my many topics trying to decide what to say next. So I'll crack on and bash this one out, then I can get on with other things.

You have the right idea Ilona! 
Were you stressed during your driving days?

Thank you Anon for your question, funnily enough I was only thinking about this when I got up this morning. What part did choices play in my work as a lorry driver? First of all, I could have done the job half heartedly, the bare minimum just to get by, but I chose to put all my efforts into it and do it the best way I could. All eyes were on me, so it was important I did not let myself down. Easy decision.

Once I had laid down my own rules, commitment to the company, look after the vehicle I had been given, look after the load and deliver it in good condition, and return to base with an empty lorry. OK, mistakes happen, it is not a perfect world, but as long as I tried my best, that's all I could do.

There were stresses to address, but mostly these were foisted on me by outside influences. It was up to me how I dealt with it. For instance, I would arrive at a delivery point, say a big distribution depot, and find I had to wait several hours before they could unload me. So, I had choices, rant and rave, no point it did not make any difference. Ask if I could be next on the loading bay because I had another delivery. Sometimes that worked so worth a try. But if I had to wait I would, lie in the bunk and snooze, read a magazine, listen to the radio, or, and this might sound daft, I walked round and round my lorry and trailer 20, 30, or 50 times. I find physical activity very good for the brain, and also of course my body was getting the exercise.

Something else that could be a bit stressful was deciding which route to take, to get me to my destination with the least hassle. Avoiding town centres, peak hours on a jam packed road, and roadworks on motorways. To help me I had hundreds of maps, still got them. As you know I still like map reading. There was lots of choices there, which could have been quite stressful, but I looked on it as a challenge. I still look at a map now and measure a route in terms of how long it will take me to get there, rather than how far is it. A bit of forward planning can reduce the stress levels.

Multi drops could be quite stressful. Sometimes they were routed by the office and I just followed the plan, but often I had to decide which order to do them in. This is where the street maps came in handy. There was one job, I had a trailer load of bicycles, triple decked, three high in the trailer. I set off on a Monday morning, the bicycles were loaded in order of delivery, so if all the shops were open when I got there everything went according to plan, but often they weren't. Half day closing, closed for lunch, that mucked the system up. So then I had the choice to go the the next shop and come back later, that's if I could shuffle the bikes around to get at the ones behind. These were minor stresses which were beyond my control. As long as I had done my best I was happy.

Getting a large vehicle stuck in a dead end street is a bit stressful. No way out but to reverse back. It happened to me in a busy street in London. What I would normally do is park before I got there, and walk down the street and check it out before I drove down. On this occasion I was in a hurry and didn't check. Oooops. Nothing for it but to ring the local constabulary and ask for assistance in getting out. It was too dangerous to do it by myself, and I wasn't about to trust some passing stranger to help me.

Ok, so here's an example of a wrong decision which had disastrous consequences, therefore caused me a lot of stress. I was under pressure from the company to get to a delivery point, discharge my load, and get back to the depot pronto for reloading. I hadn't planned on going back, preferring to have a night out in the cab, because I felt I had done enough that day. I worked it out, reckoned I might just be able to do it within my legal hours, such was my ethos for doing the job to the best of my ability. I saw the gate at the entrance to the factory and threw the lorry into it. Kerrrrunch. I wrapped the trailer round the gate post. Now you can see how that could be stressful. Three days off the road waiting for it to be repaired. After much deliberation I concluded that although the company shouldn't have put me under that much pressure, it was my hands on the steering wheel, I should have said no. What actually brought the seriousness of that incident home to me, was that someone could have been killed. Thank God it was in a quiet road in the middle of the countryside.

Quick answer to Anon, yes, sometimes, but not for long. I treated every day as a fresh new start. I couldn't change what had happened the day before, it had gone, finished, so move on. 

So, today I have moved on from yesterday. I have whittled down the amount of decisions I make. I use the same principals as separating needs and wants. I need to buy a bottle of wash up liquid, but I don't need 21 different kinds. I need to keep my house clean, but I don't need to spend hours running the dyson round. I know I am going to eat tomorrow, I don't need to know what I am going to eat.  Cost determines a lot of what I do now, so the only questions I ask myself, are, how much is it, have I got enough money to pay for it, and then I make the decision, do I actually need to buy it.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with choices, too many decisions, causing too much stress, dump some of them. Banish them from your life, have a declutter. Ok, the big decisions, the life changing decisions still have to be made, but I'm talking about the piddling little decisions, the ones which are taking up valuable space in your head. Space that could be better used for your general well being and peace of mind. Think about what makes you happy and concentrate on that.

I could go on, but I'll stop now. My stomach is telling me to eat, so I will, that's one decision I don't have to make, my body tells me when it's time to shovel something down there. Hmmm, might have some eggs, I'll decide between now and when I walk into the kitchen, about 30 seconds.
Thanks for deciding to read.
Best wishes. Ilona      


  1. I have been taking stock of my clothing today. I actually have a summer skirt now. I wore it to the doctor's yesterday with a pair of long black socks. I will keep it on until it really gets too cold. I have no jeans as my one and only pair have two holes at the top. My choice would be to have a little more. Great post - most in the west have far too much. Me? I'm happy with what I've got.

    1. Can you credit that they sell jeans with holes and get a good price for them too! You could be right in style!
      Seriously though, you have the right idea of being content with what you have. Good luck.

  2. Well said Ilona.
    What a star you were in your driving days, that took a lot of guts, which of course you still have and prove everyday.
    I would love to be close enough to come and have a good old natter with you, but as I am not I will enjoy each and every post.
    Thanks a bunch Ilona.
    Pam in Texas.xx

  3. Great post - Maggie

  4. That's a great way to put it...just dump small decisions that are cluttering up your head. If it's still bothering you in a week, then maybe you do need to decide, otherwise, it just wasn't important...

  5. Love your post Ilona. You've got me thinking about which decisions I can get rid of - got too many going on at the moment and you are right, it is stressful . Thanks for the reminder of that!

  6. Love this post but I'm a bit confused what do you mean by dump some of your decisions ?

    1. Hello Anon. Think about the everyday decisions that you have. Like, what shall I wear today. Unless you have to dress appropriately for your job, or dressing fashionably is high on your priority list, what you wear is of no consequence. Don't think about it. For me, I only have to look half decent, don't need to match clothes with accessories. Shoes and bag don't match, I don't even bother with accessories, not important to me.

      I am leaning more to the manana approach, don't stress about what I should be doing, it may or may not happen eventually. I had a hedge which needed cutting on the front garden, kept looking at it, might do it, but it can wait, not important. Yesterday I made a split second decision, an hour of sunshine left, that will be enough time, just do it.

      Your decisions are your personal choice. You can think about them, or not. The saying goes, never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Well I do, all the time. Things that are not important will wait ages to get done, to make time for seeing to the things that are important.

      Only you can decide which decisions are not worth worrying about. Those that will not make a significant improvement to your life can be pushed down the list until they drop off the bottom altogether.

      You could start by making a list, what do you do each day, what decisions do you make as routine, do you imagine you have decisions when there aren't any. Make notes every time you ask yourself a question, should I, do I, shall I, could I. Now think about how important that question is. What would happen if you didn't have the answer in an instant? How long are you going to ponder over it? Is it worth even thinking about? Dump the questions that don't matter, you don't need to make a decision about them. You can choose not to make a decision.

      It takes practice, if you are a natural worrier try and be more laid back, try and develop a 'stuff it, it's not even worth thinking about', attitude. Hope that helps. Best wishes,

  7. I am the "natural worrier" that you mentioned in your comment to Anon. But I have learned that SO many things I have worried about have never come to pass. So I am really trying to be laid back. There is a saying, "don't sweat the small stuff" that I am trying to live by now.

    Love your wise words, Ilona!

  8. I enjoyed this post with your insights into doing your job well, and being a lorry driver. My sister and her husband have been long distance team truck drivers for their entire marriage of 25 years, and they are retiring next year. They enjoy the life style. Her husband started driving trucks 20 years before they met.

  9. A typical snapshot of life on the road but it seems to be getting worse.
    When mobile phones first came out i thought it'd be easier than trying to find a phone or walking miles if you had broke down but technology is making the job more stressful.
    Some companies are constantly calling to chase you along all day and use computer routing systems calculate journey times to the minute. Mileages are calculated and mpg league tables are common to try to get drivers to be more fuel efficient. We even have a de-brief at the end of the shift where we have to explain why the job took longer than planned.


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