You already know that I am Russian and my husband is English. I left my parents, grandparents, brothers and cousins behind and moved to London to be reunited with my husband. I preach the eco-friendly lifestyle and absolutely love beauty products. I buy so many of them just to see which work best on my skin. My husband moans I’ll bankrupt us one day and I lament that my acne spots aren’t going away. I am a twenty-something and at the age of 16 I learnt to drive a truck. You didn’t know that, did you?
Here you can see me at the wheel of a Russian Kamaz taking my practical driving test. I was only sixteen but held myself very confidently.
Why did I learn to drive a truck?
Actually I didn’t have any other choice. All school students were granted free driving lessons under one condition – we had to learn to drive a truck. There was no real explanation as to why. In my head it was done due to the unpopularity of the truck-driving classes. My only dream was to drive a car and without much consideration, I enrolled on this course. We had weekly theory lessons talking about the insides of road vehicles. My favourite part was when we watched a number of clips looking at the rules of the road and discussing traffic accidents. And we had to have over 52 hours of driving a year for two and a half years to be allowed to sit the exam.
The truck I was supposed to be driving for the first time was enormous. My instructor had to push me upwards as I struggled to climb into the cabin being only five foot tall. There were a lot of laughs and tears in the first month. It was winter and the roads were very icy. The truck would occasionally slide across the road horrifying other road users. Once I even got stuck in a mountain of snow and my instructor was digging the truck out cursing me for not paying attention. There was no power steering in the truck so it was always very challenging to turn the wheel. On a very sharp turn my instructor had to give me a helping hand. My arms were aching non-stop for the first few months. Another moment I clearly remember is my instructor shouting to turn right and I’d turn left. I’ve heard many drivers find it hard to absorb information while under pressure. He also shouted at me for speeding up or overtaking other cars.
He loved to scold me for unintentionally wrecking his beloved truck. And I chose to either cry or nervously giggle which irritated him even more. After five months of the screechy gear stick, smelly breaks and the steering wheel that would get stuck with ‘perfect’ timing I was so happy to switch to a normal car.
I successfully passed the theory test and two practical driving tests. After turning 18, which is the minimum age required to drive in Russia, I finally collected my shiny driving licence with the engraved letters B and C. The letter ‘B’ allows me to drive cars while ‘C’ enables me to drive large vehicles. Ever since my graduation I’ve never gone back to the wild years when I was a female truck driver.