Not all women are cut out of the same mold. These days, women have so many alternative options and opportunities to succeed in the changing working world. Such a pioneer type woman exists in the form of Terry “Pee Wee” Hernandez from the City of Ennis, who’s blazing her own trail as she has been maneuvering many different types of trucks for more than 16 years now.
Yes, Terry is a woman truck driver, and she’s darn proud of it!
In an industry dominated by men who prefer to “drive their lives away” (according to old
country song by Eddie Rabbitt), Terry insists that she generally enjoys her days spent on the highways of America and she admits that it is a good paying job, especially for a woman.
Terry shares, “I was born in Colorado City, Texas, but then was moved to Sweetwater where I lived until I was 10 years old. As luck would have it, my parents divorced and I moved to Riverside, California, with my mother. From there, we moved back to Texas and we landed in Ennis when I was 14, and I’ve been living there ever since.”
She continues, “Unfortunately, I did not graduate from Ennis High School. Instead, I went to Corsicana to get my G.E.D. at Navarro College in 1984. After that, I attended classes there for a year taking Criminal Justice courses, and from there, I attempted some classes at a ‘Vet’ technical school to supposedly become a veterinarian assistant. However, neither of those careers panned out for me.”
Starting over with a new trucking career
In fact, two marriages didn’t seem to work for Terry either. After her second divorce, she knew she needed to break away and start her rather difficult life over – on a brand new path. She discovered the change she wanted when she decided to try her hand at truck-driving.
She says, “I’ve always been a tomboy, but I do enjoy feminine things like pedicures, shopping, and other girlish activities. But I realized after another failed marriage, that I needed to go back into some sort of school or technical classes to find myself a better paying career, especially since I was on my own again. So, I decided on truck driving school – mainly because the course was only 3 weeks long, and I was ready to hit the road.”
Over her 16 years of working in the trucking business, Terry has driven several different types of trucks for several different companies. At the current time she pulls a tanker full of asphalt for a company called “Asphalt Supply & Technology”, who has a small branch facility located in Ennis. Their main offices are in Austin.
She relays, “I do go on longer trips on the road at times, but mostly I run local routes. Before that, I drove a concrete mixer truck for 12 years, and then off and on a cement tanker during this time span. When I first started out driving rigs, I did long hauls pulling a van trailer, but after a year, I came off the road to drive a cement mixer, and I drove that type of truck until 2 years ago. Now, I’m back to driving an 18-wheeler, hauling asphalt. The current company I work for is a great employer with awesome benefits. I do work crazy hours sometimes, but, to me, it’s way better than being on the road so much and being gone weeks at a time.”
Terry says, “I like the challenge of driving a big truck. What I don’t enjoy is hooking up and unhooking trailers. It never fails….. Every time I have to do this tiresome task, it seems to always start raining. LOL.”
She admits that her basic work week is usually full of long days or nights, depending on her changing schedule. Her company is opened 24/7, so she does work a lot of weekends, but that’s just part of her job. However, she is very happy that the pandemic didn’t affect her job at all.
This independent and determined lady jokingly says, “We kept on rolling the entire time
through COVID-19. I am really somewhat of a ‘loner’, so the days by myself doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I even take my dog along with me on my trips.”
An encouragement to other women
This brave lady states that more and more women are becoming truck drivers these days. Some team with their spouse, or just do it by themselves and the spouse stays home. Others try trucking solo to escape toxic relationships, as some women decide to drive – just to get away. Driving a truck also gives ladies a place to live inside their trucks, so they can save money and get back on their feet.
Some become drivers after their spouse passes or after a divorce, which was the reason Terry changed careers. Some do it after the kids have all moved out. Or, they may be young and just want to get out there and experience life on the open road.
Terry says, “Ladies: You can make your truck just like it’s your own little apartment. You can take food with you on the road. Most trucks are equipped to be able to take a small refrigerator, or a microwave, or even an instant potty if you so choose. You can also bring a TV with you, and get satellite or WiFi service.”
She concludes, “It can be dangerous out there on the road sometimes. I take a small fold-down potty chair so I don’t have to get out in the middle of the night to use the restroom. I also suggest that women carry things like pepper spray, a knife, or a gun for added protection. As a safety suggestion, I run the seat belts through the handle of my driver’s door for extra security when I stop to sleep. It’s true that I don’t always get to park in a truck stop to sleep or even a roadside park. Sometimes I end up having to park someplace that is not well lit or may not have any real security around. At times I even have to park on a service road. You can make good money driving a truck, but it’s not always an easy job and it’s not for everyone. Down the line, if a woman gets to a place of being able to own her very own truck, she will be able to see and do even more on the road because she will have much more freedom than someone who works for a private company.”
Terry says, “As my challenge to all women who might be interested in driving trucks, I say rise up from that kitchen and take a chance on a great career where good money is to be made out on the roads. It’s up to each person to decide to make a mark for themselves in this world, if they are only brave enough to try it.”
Always happy to be home
As a very busy traveling lady, Terry truly enjoys her time at home. She is a devoted mother to 6 children, grandmother of 18, and great-grandmother of 1. She is a proud member of Foundation of Life Church in Ennis. Because she works so much on the road, she calls her hobby “family time”.
She is passionate about spending her extra days with her kids, grand-kids, siblings, friends, and her precious church family.
When asked what makes her happiest in life, Terry quickly replies, “Time off, so I can enjoy my life with God, family, and friends – in that order.”