Baby wipes and a bucket: How this truck driver is handling physical distancing on the road
'Before we leave, we've got to make sure we got lots of water, lots of food,' says Steven Kastrantas
Though many Canadians are now working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, truckers have no choice but to be on the road, delivering essential goods.
Steven Kastrantas, a truck driver for 14 years, says he travels between Canada and the United States up to twice a week.
"What's keeping me on the road is that people need us," he told The Current's Matt Galloway.
Since physical distancing measures have been introduced on both sides of the border, the Quebec-based trucker says it's been hard to find anywhere to stop for a bite to eat or even use the washroom.
"Whenever you're hungry, if you don't have food with you, you're stuck. It's a different ballgame than what it was maybe like two months ago."
Here is part of his conversation.
What's difficult about your job now that, perhaps, wasn't difficult six months ago?
Before we leave, we've got to make sure we got lots of water, lots of food. We need a little bucket for pee pee and what we've got to do, because everywhere we go, it's kind of closed — and even if we get to our customers, they won't let us in. So it's kind of hard.
What kind of position does that put you in? Is there anything else — aside from a bucket — that you can do to make sure that you have somewhere to go if all of those places are closed?
There's nothing else because even if we get to customers, sometimes you're gonna be able to go in, or sometimes they just won't let you go in.
Their facility is for the employees only and they don't want us in because we travel a lot and they don't want us to contaminate their place…. They don't want us there.
I know in truck stops there's also showers as well, and if those truck stops are closed, what do you do to try and stay clean?
I got, from Costco, those baby wipes.
I shower when I go home…. Last Saturday, I went home. I didn't shower since then. And I use baby wipes because I got to be on the road all the time.
What's keeping me on the road is that people need us. People need their food, need their soft drinks. They need paper; need everything that you can't fax, we've got to bring it. So we got to stay on the road.
I got two kids and they got to eat, so if I'm not on the road, they won't eat.
If the trucking company stops, I think that no one's gonna be able to go to work. Even the police — even the government — won't even have paper to write down what they got to say over the cameras.
Do you have a sense that people understand that? I mean, I was just speaking with a bus driver —
I don't think so.
And she talked about what it's like to have to go to work when a lot of us are being told to work from home. Do you think people get the position that you're in right now?
No, no, because we went from zero to hero in a week, and now people are seeing that, "Oh, truck drivers are really essential." Yes, we are essential. But the day that this COVID-19 is gonna stop, well, we're all gonna fall back to what we were before. That's what's gonna happen.
But we are the backbone of the society right now, and if you guys don't have us, you don't have nothing. That's the way it is.
I got a service provider with my phone that gives me the internet. I'm going to run out of internet by the end of this week. Probably by Saturday, I won't have any more internet. I'm trying to call the provider telling them that I need internet because I've got to FaceTime my kids — it's been a month that I didn't see my kids — and they [the service providers] can't do anything for us.
But the day that we're all going to stop because nobody wants to do anything for us, well … it's going to be a surviving mode. They won't have nothing.
You have a couple of kids at home and you haven't seen them in a month? Is that what you said?
Yes, yes. Already a month.
What's that like?
Oh, it's hard. It's really hard for me. It's hard especially for them, they're really young. My oldest one is 11 and my daughter's seven.
Before I let you go, what keeps you positive in this? This is a really tough situation that you're in.
What keeps me going is I know that one day we're gonna get through this and one day we're all gonna come back outside and we're gonna smell the fresh air, less polluted, the sun's gonna be out. Summer's gonna be here.
Hopefully we get through this before the end of the summer and everybody's gonna be more kind to each other. Everybody's gonna be happy to see each other again, you know?
So that's what keeps me going…. And hopefully I get to see my kids sooner or later.
Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Joana Draghici.