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Story Publication logo November 3, 2021

The Life of a Truck Driver Who Left for Great Britain: “I Felt That Romania Was Strangling Me”



Journalist Elena Stancu's project is intended as a portrait of the Romanian diaspora in the UK.

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To read the story in full in Romanian, click here.

“I’m like a hamster on its wheel”

A Romanian lorry driver spends 15 hours a day alone in his cabin, thinking of the family and friends he left behind in Romania for a life of loneliness in the United Kingdom. 

The portrait of Cristian Rădulescu, a Romanian lorry driver, in the context of the lorry driver shortage in the UK. It is a story about the struggles of an immigrant who works between 11 and 15 hours a day: his relationship with his girlfriend is broken, his mental health is deteriorating and the feeling of guilt keeps him company in the lorry cabin. 

He is absent from the lives of his parents, who are growing old back in Romania. He doesn’t have time to walk his dogs. During the pandemic, he missed the funerals of the people he loved in Romania.

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“When you leave the country, you don’t consider life will go on without you,” says Cristian, now 37. “The first months, you talk to them on the phone every day, then you start missing a day, then two. Bit by bit, they forget, but you’re left with that void. They – your friends, your family – have each other.”

Cristian now works for an agency owned by Eddie Stobart Logistics. In the last year, the gross income of the average lorry driver has gone from 12,5 to 17,5 pounds an hour during the week. On Saturdays, Cristian makes 20,5 pounds an hour, and on Sundays he earns 21,5.

“Is this worth it? No! This is just a phase for me.” At the end of this year, he plans to return to Romania with his partner, Andreea. “Something is missing here,” Cristian says, after doing Skype therapy with a Romanian psychologist over the past year. “I don’t want to call it depression, but I can’t find joy in anything anymore.” 


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