Renee M. Wise

Renee M. Wise


LOCATION: Wakarusa, IN

I started driving truck in 1984 after marrying my truck-driving husband, and now have almost four million miles logged across 48 states.

I did a lot of my driving as a team with my husband, who got me into this line of work and showed me the ropes. That included learning how to shift a 13-speed in a way that is easy on the truck and gets the best mileage. We averaged 300,000 miles a year at our busiest, working up to 70 hours a week each. Over the years, after trying many different work shoes and boots that failed to hold up to the job, Red Wings have become our only go-to footwear.

I'm currently a company driver of a fuel tanker, which requires the highest level of license in the trade. You need to take an extra test, and get a full background check, fingerprints and all. It's the same background check as required for the TSA PreCheck program for flying.

It's easy to overlook just how vital truck drivers are to our everyday lives. All the thousands of products that end up at a big-box retailer are first transported to a distribution center, where they're separated, reloaded onto trucks, driven to the retailer and unloaded. To the consumer it seems like all those items got there by themselves. But there's a lot of manual labor and logistics behind the scenes, and much of this responsibility falls on the trucker.

Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated trade adds another layer of challenge. Early on it was quite a novelty to hear a female voice over the CB, and showers were only available in the men's restroom at truck stops. I've also had to work extra hard to break through barriers. In the 1990s, after my husband and I trained his mother to drive, she and I were delivering a load to a foundry. I remember the men stopping what they were doing to watch two women back that big truck into the loading dock. I nailed it, which felt all the sweeter in front of a skeptical audience.

Trucking has prepared me well to serve in other parts of my life. When my church needed a bus driver to take people to the airport for mission trips, it felt natural for me to volunteer due to my experience driving large vehicles in big cities and in heavy traffic. My career also led me to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, inspired by one of my favorite trucking shows on SiriusXM. Driving trucks can be a very unhealthy profession, and through my study I lost 100 lbs. I find great satisfaction in helping others to make similar changes to improve their health.

Over the years, my husband and I have influenced several people to get into trucking, including two sons of our close friends we took on a trip way back when they were in elementary school. I also have helped many aspiring truckers prepare for their commercial driver's license (CDL) test. The nerves usually calm down once they know what will be expected of them.

I feel so grateful for my career, every mile of it. It hasn't always been easy, but I'm glad things turned out the way they did.


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