Women in Trucking - A Woman's Perspective

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

We are all afraid at times: of that black cloud ahead of us, of an icy road, of trying something new, of being alone, of changing jobs, of failure, and if you are like me, of snakes. Just because we are afraid, does that mean that we stay at home in bed, under the covers and never face our fears? No, of course it doesn't.

Fear comes in many guises: paranoia, anxiety, worry, claustrophobia and all types of phobias. I am claustrophobic. I sleep with a nightlight at home and have a problem in tunnels and caves. Does this mean that I never sleep in the complete dark or never go into tunnels or caves? No, it doesn't. It just means that every time I have to face that fear of enclosed dark places, I experience some sort of anxiety symptoms such as sweaty palms and increased respiration, but I still do what it takes to accomplish what I have to do.

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in "You Learn by Living," published in 1960, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ??~I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'"

Recently, during my job search, I spoke with a lady recruiter that had come into the office from the road. She related that she had run team with her husband for quite awhile and went solo when he decided to quit the road. She admitted that she had a hard time dealing with the fears she felt while being solo, but even though fearful most of the time, she still ran solo for two years.

I have many fears, as most of us have. My biggest fear that I have to deal with almost daily is when backing into a dock between two tractors. I fear I might hit one of them. I have learned to adapt by getting out and looking much more often than most, asking someone to watch my blind side, if there is someone around, and backing at a very slow idle speed...which I would do anyway, fear or no fear. I have heard of some lady drivers who will actually ask another driver to back their truck in for them. That I never do because how else would I overcome my fear and continue to do what I do?

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." - Marie Curie

The new company that I am going to work for runs the Northwest in the winter time. This brought up a fear that I hadn't anticipated. Though I have run many miles through the western mountains in the winter time with no problems, it was always as a team driver. I had the security of knowing that if I got in a real problem, I could rely on my co-driver's support, advice or driving skills to cut my slack. I run solo now. A friend helped me deal with that fear. He asked me what I was. I had to think a few minutes to realize what he was getting at...then it dawned on me. I am an experienced truck driver and will cope with whatever comes, relying on my experience, knowledge and skill.

Understanding that fear is prevalent in our minds is the first step to conquering that fear. Some fears may be irrational, such as my claustrophobia, but once I realized that it was linked to my being pinned in the sleeper after a wreck in the dark for a couple of hours, that fear was easier to deal with. Some fears, such as the very real fear of hitting another truck while backing can be overcome with extra care taken. Some fears that we lady drivers have to face, such as the fear of being victims of violence, are also very real, but must be dealt with no matter where we are or what we do.

"Fear not that your life will someday end. Fear only that you do nothing with it." - Anonymous

In trucking we face a fear every day even though we rarely speak of it: the fear of dying in a split second. It is a fact and to do this job we have to ignore the fear. As truckers, and especially as lady drivers, there won't be any medals for us, no parades in our honor, no mention of us in the history books, but among ourselves, though rarely spoken of, we know we are courageous. We drivers overcome fears everyday that would send most folks running for the safety of their homes because we know deep down that what we do is important to our families, friends and country.

Franklin Roosevelt said it best when he said: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Conquering fear is what makes us what we are...truckers.