Sunday, 10 January 2010

What's a nice girl like you doing in a truck like this?

This is a question I often get asked. Well, I have never actually heard it worded just like that but I do get asked a lot how I got into the job. So I'll tell you.

I got into the job the same way that many female truck drivers (mothertruckers I've heard us called! I wouldn't feel happy referring to myself as one but I like the wordplay) get into it - I was going out with a trucker, went out with him in his truck a few times and thought, this looks like fun, I'll do this. I had already been a driving instructor for a couple of years and had always loved driving so it was not the huge leap that it could have been. I was in need of a job, I needed one that required little brain power and little human interaction, so I started on agency driving vans and then the agency paid for me to do my HGV licence.

"Why don't you work in a nail bar or something?" is one question I have been asked. "I bet you get a lot of comments" is one of the most frequent comments I get. I deliver building supplies so driving a lorry onto building sites is what I do all day every day. It is a totally male dominated world although the company I work for normally has at least one girl in each branch, generally doing the accounts. I cannot deny that being the only woman in the area doing my job does give me a thrill, it is part doing a job that suits me (or used to), part feminist crusade and part showing off.

My truck's wheel base is 2' longer than the others in the fleet, which makes a pretty big difference to the turning circle, so there comes a point when my truck will not turn into spaces that the other trucks can. On building sites it is sometimes suggested in an underhand way that the reason I can't get the truck into the space when all the blokes can is that I am incapable and that they should send a proper driver. Obviously this is very irritating and can really get me down because there is part of me that feels pretty incapable anyway at times. Equally, if one of the blokes refuses a reverse manoeuvre he may well be told, "your lady driver did it" so it works both ways. Sometimes the builders play us off against each other and I have been rung up in my truck a couple of times to confirm whether I did the reverse or not!

There are days when I wish I didn't do this job, when it's -5 outside for example, but I have never wished I worked in nail bar. Although I do have beautiful purple sparkly toenails at the moment.

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