Baby Duck - The Lady in a Truck, in Ireland
by joanna campbell
Baby Ducks wagons
Hi, Not sure what to say !! I'm a lady truck driver of 13 years.. i did my class two rigid and then my class 1 in a week... from the first time my ass (big!!) sat in the seat i just knew this is what i wanted to do...
I had been a cook and a housewife on a farm up till then.. I used to watch the artic bulk tippers draw sand from our local sand pit... from the largest lough in the whole of Ireland... Lough Neigh . and say, "i want to do that". The sand man in his big green truck used to wave at me in my wee jeep...
So i took the bull by the horns and did my test.. My husband i think thought i was silly and never really encouraged me in any way and when i got it he never said well done... so i left him !! lol no really that another story.. but i left and i eventually became a full time trucker.
I got my first job driving a rigid merc. 1617 .. oh it was woeful and my memory is the huge steering wheel .. but i thought I was great, driving all over the north of Ireland for 2 yrs... I found male drivers tried to spoil me. giving advice and buying me tea and of course flirting like mad.. but i always just smiled and if it nothing untoward i just bantered back..
I had only a few times where company's deliberately give me an awkward bay or made things a bit difficult and then literally lined up and watched to see if i could do it ! i usually did perfectly and then smirked at them. real proud i didn't let the side down.. and in 13 years i was only sexually harassed once.. he never touched me but used to say awful things and i eventually told another driver and he encouraged me to speak to my boss, who brought in the customer and rather politely put him back in his box... the man in question never looked sideways at me again.. he always sent staff out to help off load after that.. So I've been lucky in a lot of ways..
After two years i tried for the artic work and it proved a bit more difficult to get as the companies wanted experience and if no one gives you a chance you can't gain experience.. but a man i know, John Kane, give me a chance in a 45 foot curtainsider for the south of Ireland.. i near cried !! he just banged the side and said if you can drive a rigid you will be fine! away i went with my load of steel.. and back very chuffed cause i done it with no problems.. him giving me a chance give me the confidence to keep going. He gave me loads of work doing fridge's , flat bed, curtainsider and low loader work.. so i was in a position to go anywhere from there..
I also joined an agency and worked for Tesco's, and i was the only female in 53 drivers! i was one of only a few woman in what really was still a man's world.. to my knowledge there is only 8% female Hgv drivers in the whole of the UK.. so we really are out numbered.. I have loads of happy memories driving loads of tears too, it certainly is not an easy job, but i have always took a real pride in wot i do. Days can be long, i was out yesterday for 13 hours and cold and wet by the time i got home.. but happy.. ! mad but happy ..
I have also done a few more test since, i got my ADR to allow me to drive flammable liquids in tankers and i did my large coach licence last year.. took my first tour bus to Blackpool in the summer.. but i must add my heart is still with my truck, will never as long as I'm able, give up on trucking. also did my cpc.. so I'm a competent driver ! or so they tell me.. nothing beats experience and being out there..
I am now working for a company called Mulgrew Haulage and have been with them for 5 years, It is good clean work delivering coca cola in the north and south of Ireland. I also got involved in charity work with the truck too.. I do stuff for Marie Curie cancer care.. The lorry is done up with Tigger and Winne the Pooh ..the kids and grown ups alike love it... does my heart good when your doing something good, I lost my sister to cancer in December past... She came with me on last years truck convoy and loved it... so it will be in her memory when i do it July this year.
Its not an easy life being a trucker but when I'm driving and the CD player playing and i look out my window and a little kid gives the thumbs up and mummy looking to see wot he looking at and them giving me a big smile, you can see there mouths mouthing that's a girl in that big truck! and when i sit a traffic lights and my wagon bigger than the man next to me... boy does it do your heart good......
Just thinking i didn't know wot to say and I've near wrote a book !! they say the Irish have the gift of the gab.. :-) safe trucking every one... and to all the woman that have thought about it... as i say "just do it" :-) x