Thousands of immigrants from around the world try to get into the USA every year and many of them succeed to do it. Many Indians have been making the long journey of reaching the USA from decades now. Satnam Singh, a Punjabi Sikh immigrant, who has been driving a semi-trailer truck in the USA for a long time now explains his life on the highways of USA.
In an interview with AJ+, which is a part of the Al Jazeera news network, Satnam Singh tells about his daily life and earnings. He came to the USA in the 1970s and took up a job in farmland before taking up trucking full-time. Satnam is based in Yuba City in northern California and the place is also known as ‘Little Punjab’ due to the concentration of Punjabis and Sikhs here.
Satnam says that he works in the truck for long hours and works to pick-up and deliver loads in the state. In the video, he can be seen getting a call about a pick-up and drop in California itself. Satnam is one of the thousands of Sikh immigrants who have settled down in the US to drive in trucks. The video by AJ+ also talks about how many from Punjab region find trucking in the USA a dream job and how many Punjabi songs talk about the trucking culture.
When the reporter asked Satnam about the earnings, he said that by working normally, which is around 10-12 hours every day, a trucker can earn $200,000 to $225,000 every year which roughly translates into 1.57 crore annually or around Rs 13 lakh monthly. However, the reporter adds that the cost of the fuel, repair and maintenance is quite a lot.
Satnam shows how he carries lunch every day and when he cannot get his lunch from his home, he stops at one of the many Punjabi restaurants on the highway. He also carries a mini stove that can be used to make tea on the way. The cabin of the truck itself is quite big and there are a bunker bed and a storage space that can be used to keep clothes.
Being a Sikh, Satnam Singh keeps a turban and a long beard but he says that white Americans have targetted him in the past by associating him with Osama Bin Laden. He also says that a few American develop hate against the Indians and they claim that Indians took away a lot of jobs from the Americans but according to the reporter, America is currently facing a shortage of truck drivers. The trucking job can keep the drivers away from weeks from home, which is why not many take it up as a regular job.
There is a large community of Indians including the Sikhs in the USA. Satnam shows how they together celebrate various occasions and also participate in organising langars and do seva for the people. Satnam came to the country through Mexico border in 1972. He crossed six countries before entering the United States. He was held at the border but was then let go by the USA custom officers after a few months with a green card. However, it can turn out differently for many others who try to do the same.