Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I've never had a woman before

Did you like that bit of fun yesterday? I could see that some of you had a little titter, you have been reading me that long, you can spot a touch of whacky humour a mile off. One of my tongue in cheek posts, ha ha.

I'm cheating a bit today, pulling something out of the archives, this copy and paste is brilliant. Shall I translate this into text speak, make it a bit more interesting? No I thought not, I'll leave it as it is. The punctuation may leave a lot to desire though, haven't quite got the hang of that :o)

IN THE BEGINNING

Getting the licence was the easy bit, finding the job was not so easy. I scoured the newspaper for a class 1 driving job, and applied for everything I saw. I would ring the number and enquire about the vacancy. Every time, the person on the other end asked, ‘Is it for your husband?’ I replied, ‘No it’s for me’. And every time they said, ‘Sorry the job’s been taken’. After three months I was becoming very disheartened, no one was taking me seriously, no one would give me a chance. Some of them asked if I had any experience, and they said no thanks when I said I hadn’t. How was I going to get any experience if no one would give me a start?

I went to see the boss of a general haulage company who needed a driver, at last I had managed to get an interview. When I got there I knocked on the door and a gruff voice bellowed, “Yeah”. Gingerly I turned the handle and entered. Through a haze of choking cigar smoke I saw him, a huge wobbly man, slumped in a chair behind a heavy oak desk. I was surprised to see he was wearing scruffy oily overalls, didn’t all bosses wear suits? He looked like a wild beast, a mass of black greasy hair falling over his heavily bearded face. I half expected him to greet me with Ho Ho Ho and laugh holding his belly, but it wasn’t yet Christmas.

“I’ve come about the job”, I stammered, “The one advertised in the paper for a class 1 driver”. His jaw dropped. “Is it for your husband?” he said. “No, it’s for me”, I replied. “Good God”, exclaimed the big man, “I’ve never had a woman before”. He started muttering “I don’t know what to say to you”.

I was beginning to feel a bit chirpy, my initial shyness had subsided as I realised, I must be something special, the only woman HGV driver ever to ask him for a job! I had to get in there quick, if I gave him the right answers I might be in with a chance, despite my lack of experience. “Just say what you normally say”, I suggested. “I’m only a driver looking for a job”. He shook his head in disbelief as he took another puff on his cigar. Coughing and spluttering he repeated, “I don’t know what to say”.

‘He’s going to need some help here’, I thought. “I’ve not long passed my test and I’m looking for someone to give me a start. I’m willing to learn if you show me what it’s about”. Slowly he began to regain his composure after his choking fit. And so the interview started. After 20 minutes he said, “Well, we’d better let you take a wagon out for a test run, we’ve got one loaded outside, Charlie will go with you”.

After about six visits to the toilet, I was ready to set off. Stomach still churning with nerves, I selected a gear and the aged Mercedes rolled out of the gate. I crawled around the best part of a ten mile route, petrified that I might not be able to get past parked cars, go round corners without clipping the curb, or setting off on a hill without rolling back. The wagon was loaded with massive clay pipes on a flatbed trailer, they were fastened on with ropes. I spent more time looking in the mirrors to check the pipes were still there, than looking through the windscreen to see where I was going.

It’s a miracle they didn’t send a search party out for us, we seemed to be away for ages. When we got back the boss came out to meet us, “How did it go?” he asked. “Oh, not too bad”, I said. “Will you be able to manage it on your own?”, he asked. “Oh yes,” I said confidently, trying to conceal my terror. Little did he know I was shaking in my boots. I could see he was reluctant to set me on and I was secretly relieved. “You go home and think about it”, he suggested, “Let me know what you decide”. Grateful for the opportunity of a quick exit, I stammered, “Ok then”.

I rang him the next day and said no thanks, I had got fixed up with something else. This was a lie, someone had warned me that he was a cowboy and expected his drivers to break the law. I made the right decision, not long after that the company was closed down.

After 3 months of searching, I went to the Job Centre and told the girl on the desk of my plight. She checked her files and said, ‘I have got a class 3 job, it’s temporary for 2 months, shall I ring and ask for an interview for you’. I said yes, I was a little disappointed, a class 3 is smaller rigid vehicle and I wanted to drive an artic, but I suppose I had to start somewhere. I set off on my little Honda 125 to British Road Services in Derby, about 12 miles away. This interview was different to the last one, a few questions and the boss said, “Right, when can you start?” I was chuffed to bits, at last I had got a job, even though it was only temporary.

13 comments:

  1. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.
    Proud to have you as a bloggy friend.
    Jane x

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  2. It was interesting to see how you got started in the driving business. You need courage like the one above said. Good on you!

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  3. By heck Ilona, what a tough start you had - but you made it in the end. I do admire your courage.

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  4. In the US, we have driving schools. You drive a big rig around a parking lot for days. Then, you go out as a "student driver" with a big sign that says "STUDENT DRIVER." Then, they line you up with a job.

    That guy's appearance and demeanor would have put me off.

    I am glad you found out about the guy's disdain for the law. You certainly don't want to try to make a living with black marks against your record.

    Oh, I knew you were not serious yesterday, but texting language just burns me up because students really know no better and try to use shortcuts in high school and college papers.

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  5. That story reminds me of the classic black and white film about a rogue haulage company. It gets rolled out from time to time and we always watch it. I can't remember the actors name but it's good, if a little corny by today's standard.

    Gut feeling often is right.

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  6. Great story, I think you should write more about your life, I am sure I am not the only one who would like to read it. I love reading stories about women who break the gender "rules". Thanks for this little ditty.

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  7. Yes, that really is the hard part, i wonder how many qualified people are out there looking for a start?

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  8. I love it! can we have more of the adventures of Ilona?

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  9. Actually Ilona, I think you should write a book! I'm sure people would buy it and I'll bet you could find a publisher who would print it!

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  10. Ilona did you ever work with children? I was on a course years ago where I met a lady who was once a truck driver just wandering if it was you

    Pat

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  11. Hi PP. Your system sounds a bit different to ours. We have to go through a driving school to get the licence, then apply for jobs. Years ago companies did train up their own employees to become drivers, but they still had to take the government test. Companies dont do that any longer because there are enough qualified drivers looking for work.

    Oh I definately break the gender rules Lafemmet, ha ha. I am 50% bloke in my head.

    Yes, I'll dig out some more stories, OSD.

    Now you've got me thinking Pat. I did a course in Scunthorpe once about voluntary work, and I put down that I worked for a charity, fundraising in schools for the RNIB. Might that be it? I can't think of any other time when I worked with children.

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  12. Hi Ilona
    Maybe not then, this course was run in Thetford in norfolk. The lady I met was a truck driver at the age of 25 I think, and was approx 45 to 47 at that time. I'd never met a lady truck driver in my life and was really surprised. She also was small and petite. All I could think off at the time was how possibly could a women this size do such a phyiscal job.

    Pat

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