Would you believe it if somebody told you that a truck driver with 10 years of loyal service to a company – and who has earned long service leave – has never taken a sick day off work?
One who falls into this rare category is Martijn ‘Okie Dokie’ Dijkxhoorn who will have been employed by Blenners for a decade in late August, and I would aptly describe him as the “employee from heaven”.
Before that, the now 51-year-old Dijkxhoorn was employed by several other companies for a total of another 10 years, and also never had a sickie.
I caught up with Dijkxhoorn after he had pulled up in his Kenworth 610 SAR at a Townsville roadhouse to fuel up and hook up a trailer.
“I am heading to Perth with bananas from Tully and really enjoy what I do,” he said.
So, what is the reason that Dijkxhoorn has been able to maintain such good health so that he has never taken a sickie?
“I try and eat healthy with lots of fruit and mostly buy food at supermarkets and have it whilst on fatigue breaks,” he said.
“I had the odd case of the flu but the best place to be then was in the truck away from everybody and be by yourself. I did have all the vaccinations during the Covid outbreak to abide by border movement laws but never got it.
But I have a medical check-up every year and had one recently. Everything was fine including my blood pressure and other things,” he said.
Born at the village of Hummelo in Holland, Dijkxhoorn became interested in trucks as a youngster when a neighbour who lived nearby would take him for trips in his rig.
“Later I got my own licence and drove through Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the former Yugoslavia, to Russia including Moscow, Ukraine, to Britain and African countries such as Morocco and Algiers.
“I drove a Volvo FH-12 single drive amongst other trucks and hauled general and cows. It was well before the Ukraine war and the roads in Russia were generally long and I even went to Moscow,” he said.
When aged 31, Dijkxhoorn came to Australia as a backpacker and stayed at King’s Cross in Sydney.
“I bought a second hand 4WD and asked a bloke how I could get my Dutch truck driver’s licence converted to drive in Australia whilst I was here for a year and found out I had to have it translated into English and did so at the Department of Transport in Dubbo,” he said.
Dijkxhoorn saw an advertisement for truck driver jobs with a company at Cobram in Victoria and soon was employed by Brian Hicks Transport.
“Brian Hicks organised all the necessary visa for me to work and live in Australia. I’m still very thankful for what Brain did for me,” he said.
That is where he was given the nickname of Okie Dokie which has stuck like glue and is a slang term which means “Okay”.
“When I was asked a question, I would just answer Okie Dokie and have had it ever since,” he said.
As I sat with Dijkxhoorn at the BP Cluden eatery recording his story, several truck drivers walked past and referred to him as Okie Dokie.
After the Cobram job, Dijkxhoorn started work with D&J Johnson which was at far away Tolga on the Atherton Tablelands region of north Queensland.
“I used to do Tolga to Brisbane carrying general freight in a Kenworth 950,” he said.
From there Dijkxhoorn moved on to start with Gillespie Transport at Jimboomba, carting portable buildings all over the country.
Dijkxhoorn got the job at Blenners from their Brisbane depot a decade ago and reckons it is the best move he ever made.
“I applied for the position on a Tuesday and started on Friday. And I drove from north to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in a Volvo. They really treat me well and I enjoy going to work every time,” he said.
Life has also been good to Dijkxhoorn whilst he has been in Australia and he married his wife Megan who he met at a Cooper’s Plain service station.
“We have two children – a son Wesley aged 10 and a daughter Eleanor who is eight – and we go camping all together whenever I get time off around the mountains,” he said.
A while back his father Aad, 83 years of age, visited from Holland and went on a marathon truck trip with him.
“Dad slept in the truck sleeper box and I was outside it snoozing under the stars in a swag. Dad has been and is always the boss. We went from Tully to Brisbane and onto Perth where I dropped him off and he caught a flight back to Holland. The entire trip took a week,” he said.
Dijkxhoorn is looking forward to holidays in December and will take his family back to his birth country.
“We will all be going as a family and I am so much looking forward to it,” he said.
Having travelled through every Australian state, Dijkxhoorn has been along many bad roads, but which rates amongst the worst?
“They would have to be the ones between Bourke and Moree in NSW and the Goondiwindi to Millmerran road in Queensland,” he said.
As for roadhouses he rates well, the Nullarbor Roadhouse is right up at the top.
“They have a good kitchen, parking and showers,” he said.
Although Dijkxhoorn has been Down Under for two decades, he still maintains a Dutch accent.
His Blenners colleague Trevor Southern, who tipped Big Rigs off about Dijkxhoorn’s achievement never to have taken a sickie, described him as a top driver and bloke.
“Okie Dokie gets on well with everybody and is well liked,” Southern said.
Not many of Dijkxhoorn’s family and friends are aware he has been sick day free for so long but they know will once his story come alive and is told on the pages of Big Rigs.
In all my years of snapping pics and doing stories for Big Rigs I have never come across anybody who has been sickie-free for so long.
As I left, I wished Dijkxhoorn a safe trip on his long journey to Perth and it was no surprise what his answer was.
“Okie Dokie” he said.