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I Owe My Dump Truck License to a Stranger at a Bar

The Power of Seeing to Believe

Yes, you read that right. I got my DZ license just before I turned 20, during my second year of college. And, yes, it all started with a stranger at a bar.

Let’s back up for a second – what is a DZ license? An Ontario DZ license means I can drive motor vehicles/trucks weighing over 11 000 kg and I can tow a load of up to 4600 kg. The “Z” is an air brake endorsement. In essence, I can drive dump trucks, stake trucks, and I can bobtail (drive a transport truck without towing a load).

Although I grew up around heavy trucks on my family’s grain farm, only men drove them. I had other jobs around the farm, and it never once seemed like something that I had the potential to do. I suppose if someone had asked me to think about it, I would have said there must be women out there driving these things, but I had never seen one, so it didn’t seem like a possibility for me. To give credit to my dad, he casually mentioned for years, “you could drive this someday,” but it never sunk in that he was serious. Sure, I drove plenty of tractors, but our trucks had non-synchronous standard transmissions and that seemed horribly complicated.

My mindset changed one night when I was in line at a bar. A young woman in front of me pulled out her driver’s license for ID and I overheard her say she had her AZ (full transport truck license). My mind was blown. This young woman, roughly my age, already had her full truck license. What was I waiting for? Immediately, the light bulb went on, and I thought, if she can do it, maybe I can too.

Fast forward a few months, I was enrolled in truck driving school – a mandatory program to take before the driving test. I chose the DZ license because I was working around school. At the time, it was roughly 60 hours of in-class and driving for a DZ compared to over 100 for AZ. Even as I was enrolled in the program, I was still convinced I couldn’t do it. I was terrified and I fully expected failure. But the important thing was, I tried anyways… and I passed with flying colours! What a powerful thing, to do something you never thought you could. I love having my license. I love driving grain trucks for our farm. I am a more confident person because of it. If I can learn to drive a standard dump truck, what can’t I do? We need more women thinking like that.

I share this story because I hope it will encourage everyone, but especially young women, that you can do anything you set your mind to. Challenge yourself. If you believe you can’t do something, maybe you need to reconsider. Perhaps you, the reader, have a daughter. Who could you introduce her to that would inspire her to think beyond the standard?

Sometimes we have to see it to believe it. But beyond that, sometimes we simply must try. Try, even if you think you might fail. If you fail…get up and try again…

So, do I really owe my license to that unknown woman? Probably not – I put in the long hours and passed the tests. Eventually, I may have decided to get my license anyway. But, if I knew who she was, I would thank her for speeding up the process!


Printed in Elgin This Month magazine February edition.

Abbey Taylor is an intern at the Elgin Business Resource Centre in St. Thomas. She is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness program at Olds College.

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