UK lorry driver Stuart Harvey has a penchant for solitude. Raised in a trucker family, he believes he was born for the road.
Hailing from Hoddesdon, north of London, the heavy hauler’s grandfather used to ship Army tanks and other equipment hundreds of miles across the island.
But, his passion for trucking also stems from a neurological condition he was born with—The 29-year-old, who’s been driving for the past eight years, is autistic.
Despite coping with the disorder, which often makes communication and socializing difficult, Harvey points out its advantages; individuals on the autism spectrum sometimes exhibit gifts of unusual intelligence.
Harvey’s gift is his seemingly supernatural ability to map the best routes to get from point A to point B using the power of his mind, almost like satellite navigation. “It’s like a mind mapping technology,” he told The Epoch Times, describing the skill he has developed over the years, which he likens to “a high-tech fighter pilot helmet display.”
“It almost works the same way as a heads-up display system on a fighter pilot’s helmet,” he said. “Everything is transmitted in front of you and I can sort out the details of things that jumped out at me.
“Let’s say I’m looking in front of me; there is my laptop in front of me; there’s one key there that’s slightly warmer than the other one; there’s a speck of dust in between the things like the mousepad things like that.
“Your brain will be telling you that subconsciously without you even thinking about it.”
The high functioning autistic driver believes that there are few others with the condition in his profession. “There’s some of us who struggle for the rest of our lives because we’re not able to speak or talk,” Harvey explained. “I’m quite fortunate in this sense because I’m able to do all those things.”
“There are no surveys out there for HGV truck drivers with Asperger’s,” he added, referring to his particular disorder. “And it does make you wonder … How many of us are there, actually, really in the world? I can’t be the only one.”
Despite his success navigating the road of life, ultimately leading to his career as a driver, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
In school, he faced bullying and longed to get out into the workforce, though that didn’t necessarily improve things.
“When people come on and started trying to talk to me, essentially, it just, the things went straight over my head because, I thought, ‘I have no idea what you’re saying,’” Harvey said. “That opened me up to some bullying.
“My school career for me was just so traumatic. I basically was almost praying to actually go out to work and actually to basically earn a living.
“I then realized that when I actually got there it was no different … in fact, if anything, it only got worse.”
Driving 60-foot heavy haulers proved to be a game changer. It allowed Harvey to avoid bullying, he said, by “just doing what I’m good at.”
“This is a line of work for me,” he added. “It’s isolated, it’s on my own, essentially, if I don’t want to talk to anybody, I don’t have to … if I don’t want to talk to anyone while I’m driving, and if I can’t, then basically I just turn [my phone] off.”
Harvey’s career on the road started in 2014, driving a van. He gradually upgraded to heavy trucks, then was hired in 2019, before COVID hit. Far from inhibiting his earning a keep, the pandemic saw his profession elevate to “essential worker” status—a badge of honor Harvey wears proudly.
“I drove pretty much all the way through the second lockdown that we had right the way 2021,” he told the newspaper. “We essentially are a vital part of any economy. … To be in that period of time where we are recognized as an essential industry is quite something.”
Having worked for 11 separate employers over the past 10 years, though, some jobs literally lasting less than six months, Harvey has now seemingly found his niche.
“The job I’ve walked into is the same one I’ve still got,” he said. “I’ve been with them literally right the way through the pandemic.”
As for the life philosophy that got him here, the trucker shared, “I’m just able to get back up and keep on going; it’s almost a bit like the song isn’t it? I get knocked down. But then I get up again … that’s exactly what it is.”
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