In conversation with David, experienced crane operator at Hooymeijer (with a fear of heights!)

David used to visit Hooymeijer as a little boy. His father worked on the cranes at the time, and he wanted to do the same when he grew up. He dreamt of becoming a crane operator. And that’s exactly what he did. After years of experience at Hooymeijer on the ground, David had a chance to work as a Crane operator. But what he didn’t know as a child is that he is afraid of heights. Nevertheless, David has been 'on the crane' at Hooymeijer for several years now and enjoys every day. He tells us his story.

With a broad smile, David sits down and begins to chat: "I’ve been working at Hooymeijer for 13 years. Three years on the crane. Before that, I did a bit of securing crates, loading containers and driving the forklift." He makes it sound easy. When we ask him if his job is easier than it looks, he laughs. "These days maybe, but not in the beginning! When I first came to work here, I had to learn everything. I hadn't worked in this sector; I’d been working in powder coating. But fortunately, I mastered it pretty quickly. Sometimes people think the work is easy, but that’s because I make it look easy. For me, it's like cycling or driving a car."

'Playing' with the crane
At that precise time, a ship was being loaded. David was called over because things were not working out with the placement of the containers. We were then allowed to join David on the crane and see what he does up close. There are screens in his cabin. One shows camera footage and the other shows how heavy the load is, how much wind is blowing and some other complicated numbers that we didn’t really understand. Meanwhile, David sits in a large comfortable-looking chair, covered with numerous buttons and two joysticks that allow him to control the crane. From the seat, you look straight down to the ground where, at that moment, there are 10 containers waiting to be loaded. After briefly consulting with his colleague, he gets to work, although he doesn’t actually call it work: "This is not work, this is just playing really. That's how I see it! But of course you have to be careful and keep an eye on everything."

Just under half an hour later, the ten containers are loaded onto the ship without any problems. Indeed, the ease and enjoyment with which David controls the crane makes it seem more like a fun video game than work!

Crane operator with a fear of heights
David started at Hooymeijer on the ground but, after 10 years, took a chance to fulfil his boyhood dream and work as a crane operator. "My father was a crane operator at Hooymeijer and had already retired. The other operator went to work on the lorries, so I took my chance. Fortunately, I had already watched my father working, so I figured it all out pretty quickly." Quite a career switch. For 10 years David had been able to work with both feet on the ground, but he was now moving up in the world. But he had something to confess: "I have to tell you honestly, I am afraid of heights. Luckily, I am over it now but, in the beginning, I used to go up the crane with wobbly knees. After a few times, however, I got used it. This crane is 20 metres high but I would be quite stressed about a crane that is 40 or 50 metres high.”

When asked if he would ever want to do other work, he didn’t hesitate for a second. With the same broad smile he had when I met him, he replied: "I will stay with my crane, now and in the future. My colleague on the ground has been working at Hooymeijer for 50 years, that’s not a bad ambition. As far as I’m concerned, I never want to leave Hooymeijer!".