How did you get into the truck?
My grandfather and grandmother lived near a slaughterhouse in Nijmegen. This is where I first came in contact with the livestock transport. In 2006 I met Dirk. He was already working as a truck driver. I've always considered the fact of being on the road wonderful. That adventurous part attracted me. That's why I was a taxi driver for a while, but it wasn't the same. Through Dirk I saw how nice it was to be a truck driver. I always thought I wouldn't be able to have this job because I am suffering of diabetes. Eventually, after many investigations, I received approval from the hospital and CBS (Central Statistics Bureau). I feel in due time when I have hypoglycemia and when I'm tired I don't drive the truck. So it is going well. The only problem is that every five years I have to get a re-approval, but as I feel at the moment, this shouldn't be a problem.
Do people look strangely at you when they see a woman behind the wheel?
Not really. But indeed, the world of drivers is still a world of men. However, I feel comfortable.This also comes from the fact that I am not a girl who watches from the sidelines. I roll up my sleeves and go to work. Moreover, men are generally more direct than women. They usually say exactly what they think. And this I like. However, I notice that people who come in contact with me are usually friendlier to me than to Dirk… haha!
You're with your husband Dirk Strik on the truck. How is it?
Many people ask me: What is it like to be together 24/7? Very honestly: I find this wonderful! Sometimes I am looking forward to an evening when I could be alone at home. But once this happens, I think: how boring! We can separate work from our private life very well. And this pleases us. When we are at a farmer's place, we are no longer husband and wife, but two drivers, each with our own tasks. We drive in turns (shifts). Dirk has been driving trucks for almost twenty years, he is very precise in his work and usually deals with the more difficult tasks. I can learn a lot from him. Dirk sees his work as a hobby. That we can spend a full time together doing a hobby .... How beautiful is that!
How do you see the coming years for you?
I enjoy my job. When I open the ramp and see the piglets snoring and sleeping happily together next to each other ... I find this wonderful. At the same time, I see the world getting tougher. We try to take the best possible care of the livestock. But there are also bad examples that exist as well in any other sectors of activity, which attract the attention of the news. We are judged according to this. It is not fair. I see that the piglets are feeling well.
Three short questions for Nicole:
What is your favourite truck brand?
I know Dirk is going to mumble on this, but I think Volvo. My first love. That doesn't rust!
What do you like to do the most in your free time?
I rarely have spare time, but when I do, I try to spend it with my family and friends. And then a tasty glass of wine coming along!
What do you like most about VAEX?
The idea of belonging to a group. I've known the company since I started my relationship with Dirk. It's nice to see that the people in the office have become closer to the drivers. We really are a team. This is something special!