How Belarusian passed in the USA from scavenger in strip-bar to trucker
In search of adventure and a better life, many Belarusians are leaving thousands of miles away from home. Many of them emigrated to the United States, trying to find their vocation there, to translate dreams and youthful ambitions into reality, starting a new life. Many tried to find themselves in the “land of opportunities”, working in various fields in order to somehow catch on and stay in America. Among them - Stas Ilyin, who turned out to be in a small quiet town on the ocean. The guy changed a lot of classes, until he finally found himself in the trucker profession, combining work with creativity.
Currently Stas lives in Philadelphia, published in periodicals of Belarus, Ukraine and the United States. He is from Grodno, he studied at the Minsk State Linguistic University. In 2007, he emigrated to the USA.
Watching the world from the cab of the truck, the young man decided to keep a diary: suddenly loneliness in the space of the monotonous road suddenly became a real pleasure. In order to experience this intoxicating feeling doubly, Stas decided to share his thoughts with others. So his book “Windscreen” was published, written in the form of fascinating stories and interesting facts for 2013 and 2014 years. Grodno shared with Newgrodno.by his story of emigration and told about the adventures in the States.
Come to America to play nu metal
In the USA, Stas got into the 2007 year: he left to play the so-called “nude metal” as part of a musical group.
- We had a bit more 20, youthful maximalism was beating out of our ears, and we were firmly convinced that we would become rock stars. But rather quickly, instead of guitars and drumsticks, drills and hammers were in our hands. And we no longer created songs, but built and repaired the homes of wealthy Americans that stretched along the east coast, the guy says. - We lived in a small town on the coast. In the summer there was a lot of fun, many students and tourists, and in the winter - longing, even though a wolf howl. But, nevertheless, many students from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia who came to work for the summer did not come back. They did not want to search for a new job, especially over the summer, friends and acquaintances appeared here, and as a result they remained in this town.
It so happened that Stas did not leave the city. He settled down as an assistant tiler to a former student of the Grodno University. Then it turned out that about twenty Grodno residents live in the city, who at one time were students in the States, opened construction companies and remained to live their own, so to speak, diaspora.
From the scavenger in the strip bar to the butcher and power sales agent
The source of inspiration for the guy has always been physical labor - not the process itself, but the general atmosphere. He has never worked anywhere in Belarus, but in two years in England and ten years in America, he changed many professions: from a scavenger in a striptease bar to a butcher and an electricity sales agent. While working, he began to write small notes about life overseas.
“By today's standards, I wrote“ old school ”- with a pen in a notebook, which, of course, I forgot somewhere all the time: now in a taxi, now at work, now on the beach,” the interlocutor shares. - When I worked as a pizza delivery man, the owner of the pizzeria constantly said that he was waiting for someone from the customers to call and say that he had found my notebook in the pizza box. For logical questions, “what do you always write there?” I used to come up with rather ridiculous explanations in the style of “writing an essay for my younger brother” or “helping a friend with the translation.”
I wanted romance, became a truck driver
After a while, the monotonous life in the city bored the guy and, in order to break out of his shackles, he decided to become a long-distance truck driver.
- I lived for several years in America, but I did not really see the country itself. I decided that the trucker profession will help me to get acquainted with the States. In addition, the demand for truckers was rabid, and wages are good, - says Stas. “Then somehow it happened that many acquaintances moved to Philadelphia.” It's only an hour and a half from the town on the coast where I lived. That's how I ended up in Philadelphia. I traveled around the country for about three years, then I began to look for something more special, well, so that I could be closer to home. I switched to “Tankers” - this is when, instead of a trailer, there is a tank with liquid. I bought a truck and drove paint thinners along the east coast, you sleep two nights in a truck, then two houses, something like that. In the end, even though you are often at home, you don’t see that at home. You work all week and pick a truck over the weekend or take it to the mechanics to prepare it for next week. And every day you wake up with the thought "if only today there is a bulb which does not light up, which sensor does not blow or something." Earnings, of course, are good, but there was not enough nerves for all this. So I was just happy when I sold this headache and got a driver again. You drive, nothing bothers you, no matter what happens to the truck, you are even better - you pay for any idle hours, you listen to music, you write stories while the customer service is driving, and you are paid for it. Then he worked on gasoline for a year, for a Ukrainian company. Local work, every day at home, you go to the gas stations around the city and pour out the gas. That just started the working day in 3-4 in the morning and paid for the ride, so you had to run like crazy with these hoses. In the summer it is still normal, but in the winter, every day, as an expedition, you are going to, walk around the station with a crowbar and poke the ice to find the lids for the drain. And at 99% of gas stations in America, the owners are Indians. They have some kind of monopoly on this business. Well, it is clear that they save on everything. So the snow cleaning services do not cause, in some places they will clear everything themselves. And you just shout "No problem. Its okay, my friend!". As a result, a couple of times had to haul a truck with a “barrel” out of such gas stations.
Now Grodno is working for a local American acid and alkali company. He goes to factories or ports, loads containers and tanks, brings them to the terminal, where they are taken by those who travel across the country. He says that the usual normal work with a standard schedule.
Whole life in a truck
Stas notes that the specifics of the work of truckers in Belarus and America is strikingly different.
- In addition to the driver, you have to be a mechanic, and a bandit, and I still don’t know who. Usually, Belarusian or Russian truckers leave for a flight for a couple of days or a week, and then they spend the same amount of time at home, the guy says. - In the US, about 70 percent of those who travel across the country and are constantly on the road. This is especially true for employees of large companies whose trucks number in the thousands. In a month I stayed at home for two or three days and drove on. It is clear that there are shower cabins, rest rooms, and restaurants in the parking lots, but still, this is not something that is at home.
Many of the American truckers do not rent housing: for one weekend they call in, for example, to friends in Florida, then to others in the north of the country. Some live in families like this: husband and wife rule in turns, along with children and pets, thus they manage to “travel.” - I did the same thing in the first year, too: there was no point in paying for housing in which the best case is five days a month, - notes Stas. - When I first started, I decided to check my maximum, how long I can hold out until the roof goes. The result was 11 weeks.
Stas says that he only takes fellow travelers when he sees that he is a traveler. In other cases, just does not stop.
- In America, there are many representatives of all kinds of subcultures, for which hitchhiking is a lifestyle, something fundamental, ideological, and not just “a ride for free”. Many go with dogs, some do not live anywhere at all, their house is a tent, which they set up for free or at a minimal price in any picturesque places: in the mountains, near canyons or near lakes. There are just students who decide to hitchhike from the east coast to the west coast, and there are just outright bums who don’t cause any desire to put them in their cabin, the guy adds.
The specifics of the work of truckers in America
- As for the "fairy tales" about transcendental salaries from truckers in America, then in fact everything is not so rosy. Of course, if you have your own car and it does not break, then yes, you can consider yourself a completely wealthy person. But all the other stories - this is about, let's say, "illegal" work. In America, you can legally travel for no more than eleven hours a day, and with stops and breaks the whole working day cannot last longer than fourteen hours. And your entire working day is recorded either electronically using the on-board computer in the truck, or manually using a paper road book (“logbook”) in which you draw a schedule of all your movements per day. Well, as the saying goes, “paper can endure everything” - you can keep several such magazines in parallel, and if you are stopped to check on the scales, or just a policeman on the road, the main thing is not to confuse which of these magazines to show to the officer. And this is how almost all Russian-speaking, and indeed, emigrant companies work, ”Stas continues.
The most expensive are the goods that need to be transported per day at a distance of about 1000-1200 kilometers. These are usually loads that someone could not pick up due to a breakdown, or the “sender” did not have time to prepare it, but the broker is urgently needed, he raises the price for which the Lithuanian dispatcher from Chicago is “biting”.
- As a result, the dispatcher raises the price a little more, he swears by his mom and dad that otherwise he will not earn anything at all because he has to pay two drivers who carry this load so that everything is legal. And you come to pick it up, having slept four hours yesterday and recently unloaded in the neighboring town. On the boot, you say that the second driver is washing at the truck stop, and you pick it up on the way. You are loaded for a couple of hours, and as a result you leave for an hour or two, 800 miles of road looms ahead, the next couple of hours of sleep, and in 8 in the morning you have to be unloaded. There is another popular area - to transport refrigerators or cars from one coast to another. There is also a legal ride fails. As the owners of many companies say: “Yes, it will be cheaper for me just to pay you a salary like in McDonalds, and you sit at home than by the rules of driving!”, Adds a Grodno resident.
- I personally know a couple of characters who pass the whole country from the north-east to the south-west in two days. And this is four and a half thousand kilometers. That is, for two days they either do not sleep at all, or a maximum of a couple of hours. Yes, such drivers, of course, earn. But for some reason no one considers how much work hours they end up with. Two days is 48 hours, when the average week of an average American is 40 hours, five days, eight hours. That is, I’m talking about the fact that at the office work, if you get a triple salary a week and you don’t sleep, you also get a round sum. But in December 2017, the whole of this shop covered up. Paper road magazines banned and only on-board computers remained, which are impossible to deceive. Now everyone will have to go by the rules. And Russian-speaking companies will have to put two drivers in the car so that you can do all these urgent loads of 800 miles per day. Well, for long distances from the coast to the coast, too, will have to travel together. And these are completely different conditions and very different earnings. When you already have limited space, very few people want to share it with another stranger. And if you drive according to the rules, like American truckers, sleep ten hours, do a weekly 34 hour once a week, then the earnings will be the same as those of the builders, the average average salary.
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