Housewife becomes lorry driver after hard training
Ece Çelik – ISTANBUL
A housewife has become one of the three female truck drivers in Turkey after following up months of hard training on driving techniques while she struggled to earn a living for her two children following a divorce.
Gülsen Demirci spent all her life in a village in the Black Sea province of Tokat’s Niksar district.
In her 20 years of marriage, she gave birth to two children. Apart from being a housewife and an occasional agricultural laborer, she had no work experience when she and her husband decided to divorce four years ago.
The year 2018 was when her life changed and got a new direction as she moved to Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest metropolis, which she had never visited before, with her children.
“I started working in a market as a cashier. As a divorced woman, life in Istanbul scared me to death. It really was not easy,” Demirci said.
Then one day, she saw a job advertisement that would be the “first step to her new career.”
A transportation firm in the Tuzla district was looking for a security officer. She applied and got the job, where she was guarding the trucks entering and exiting the firm’s compound.
Her wish to drive trucks she shared with a colleague in a friendly talk reached the company’s manager’s ears.
The manager opened the way to Demirci, who is now one of the three female lorry drivers in the country.
“I had a driving license for regular vehicles. First, I got training for a lorry license,” Demirci said. “Then I applied to get an international certification for transportation.”
“I passed exams, including the one about psychotechnics, in the first attempt.”
All these took her some months before she could hit the roads on her truck.
“My first trip was to Bulgaria. The distance was 350 kilometers. Some company personnel accompanied me and taught me how to pass a country border by conducting the paperwork.”
Demirci is happy to do the job as she sees a truck as “home.”
The “bedroom” is behind the driving seat, and the “kitchen” is below the truck.
According to the digital controlling system, a truck driver has to rest for 45 minutes after every four and a half hours. “The system is good. In the past, many accidents occurred due to insomnia. Now you have to stop the engine after four and a half hours, or else you get a fine.”
When asked if she was ever afraid of other truck drivers, she replied, “No.”
“A lorry driver can never be a bad person,” she said confidently.
Of course, it was not easy for a divorced woman to sell the idea of being a truck driver to her children and her mother.
“They refused it at first. But after seeing my determination, they accepted. I know how to guard myself, but thanks to God, I only met good people until now,” she noted.
She has only one concern, and that is about refugees who want to go to Europe by hiding in the back of lorries coming on their way.
“After breaks, I check the tents of the truck to see whether a refugee got inside tearing the tent,” she said.