Tow Truck Amy

Keely
Keely Dakin
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Published on January 17, 2013

Getting a car out of a parking lot after it has been snowed on and frozen to the ground since October is not always an easy task but tow truck driver Amy Bodnarchuk will deal with this and possibly dozens of other calls for her service in a day. Either she or her father -- the owner of Dr. John's Towing -- is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all types of service calls.

Published on January 17, 2013

Father and daughter working together.

Published on January 18, 2013

Amy Bodnarchuk prepares to unearth a car with a burnt out engine from the snow. The car was taken and donated to the Buckland Fire Service for retrieval practices.

Published on January 18, 2013

Gauging the distance from car to tow truck.

Published on January 18, 2013

Getting down and dirty is a requirement of the job.

Published on January 18, 2013

John Bodnarchuk and Amy sometimes work together to get a troublesome vehicle unstuck, however mostly they each handle their own calls independently.

Amy Bodnarchuk is a tow truck driver and Prince Albert's only female tow truck driver.

She has been working for Dr. John's Towing, which is owned by her father, John Bodnarchuk, for two years.

She does everything from unlocking car doors that have been locked by puppies to dealing with fatal rollovers and multiple car accidents on the highways.

Driving a tow truck means a busy unpredictable schedule.

“You can never predict what your day will bring. Some days are super crazy and other days are super slow,” she said.

“It’s not me to be sitting at a desk in an office. I like to be up and about,” Bodnarchuk said.

Bodnarchuk is not new to physically demanding jobs. Most recently she worked as a penitentiary guard for five years. She has also worked as a treeplanter, a bush camp cook, in a car garage and as a bartender.

“I know if my phone rings at two in the morning, I know who it is, I know I gotta get dressed and go,” she said.

“That’s usually just when multiple vehicle accidents happen on the highways,” she added.

There are positives to the job.

“I like being able to help people out. You know when you’re stranded or little old ladies that can’t change their tires, stuff like that.

“I also enjoy the looks that I get sometimes. If I change the tire on a big truck for three 20-something-year-old guys and they’re all standing around watching the girl do all the work,” she said.

While there may still be some surprise on the part of certain clients when she hops out of the Dr. John’s Towing truck,  most of the feedback she gets is positive.

“I know that personally I try harder, just cause I don’t want people saying  ‘oh she’s a girl,’ kinda deal,” she said.

When she was 15 she started working in her fathers garage and that meant she had to work hard to get respect.

“I guess because I always worked in male-dominated fields. I started working in my dad’s garage when I was 15. And there, being a girl and the boss’s kid, I had to earn my place,” Bodnarchuk said.

“It was just my sister and I. No boys in our family. So if there’s work to be done, we’re doing it regardless of what it is and we were always told, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to, and if people tell you (that) you shouldn’t or you can’t, that’s their problem. Not yours,’ ” she said.

Those words impact a young girl, she added.

“I think that plays a part, a good part, in women doing whatever the heck they want,” she said.

Bodnarchuk doesn’t think too much about whether others doubt her abilities. However, she says that they do exist.

“There’s a lot of doubt. And there’s a lot of people that don’t think that women should be doing or can do things,” Bodnarchuk said.

“There have been times where … for example, I had never backed in a vehicle for one of the smaller shops here, and usually it was my dad that showed up and would do that. So I show up one day and they want it backed up onto a hoist. And they look at me to go, ‘Well where’s John?’” she laughed as she recalled the day.

“’Well it’s me or nothing. If you want it in there, I can do ‘er,’ So he said, ‘All right, whatever,’ … and I backed it in … and I was spot on. I backed her right in, nice and smooth and I get out of the truck and he looks at me and says, ‘You put your father to shame. Tell him that.’ Of course I told my dad. He was super proud,” she said.

 “There is doubt but I take great pride, I guess, in proving them wrong … It changes their perspective, you know? Because, how can you deny it? It’s been done.”

‘You can do anything you put your mind to, and if people tell you (that) you shouldn’t or you can’t, that’s their problem. Not yours,’ ” Amy Bodnarchuk

The job is not light task. It includes lugging around two 60-pound dollies to prop up four-wheel-drive vehicles and using a very simple metal pry bar to levy them into position.

Bodnarchuk is not a large woman. While she no longer weighs herself, she does not look like she weighs more than 120 lbs.

She sometimes employs unusual methods to get the job done.

“It takes all my weight, I have to launch off the tire at the end of the pry bar to pop up the heavier vehicles. But I get it done. I get it done,” she said and smiled.

Louis Neefs is a repeat customer of Dr. John’s Towing and he doesn’t see anything odd about his tow truck driver being a woman.

As someone who works in the penitentiary, he is used to women doing all manner of jobs.

“The correctional officers at the pen, I think half of them are women. You know, women are into everything now,” Neefs said.

While a woman driving a tow truck may not seem like a big deal to many people today, it is still a very male dominated job.

“Anything I can do a woman should be able to do,” said Danny Goodwin, a tow truck driver with PA Auto Wreckers.

“She’s a good hard worker and she does everything … she does everything that everybody else does … she does the exact same job as any guy that drives a tow truck in this town.  I mean she’s more than capable of handling herself.

“She can do anything that a guy tow truck driver can do and she has done it,” Goodwin said.

“She’s very good at her job, it’s actually very impressive actually. Because when you look at her you wouldn’t think … She’s just a little bit of a thing.

The job takes skill and strength.

“When you put a vehicle on dollies, after you put the bar in there, you’re actually lifting the weight of the vehicle up onto the dollies,” he said.

The first time Goodwin saw her he was surprised.

“I was like wow, I mean I didn’t know there was a female tow truck driver in this town and I think a lot of people don’t know that,”

“I got two little girls of my own and I’m pro-girl, because they can do anything every bit as good as anybody else as far as I’m concerned.

Goodwin was a heavy equipment operator for 15 years and only met one female heavy equipment operator.

“I wish there was more.  I wish there was more females in some of those men dominated trades. Because I think it would be incentive for more women to get into it,” Goodwin said.

“She has to go out there and do rollovers and bad accidents and accidents where people have died … It’s not for everybody … but she does very well at it, “ he said.

Bodnarchuk says that her being able to do the job she loves today is due in huge part to work of women who did things that were not considered womanly before her.

“We need to definitely acknowledge and be grateful for the hundreds of women -- ever since winning the vote … the many hundreds of women, that have broken down all kinds of barriers. Those are the people that really need to be noted and celebrated … There are so many great women in history that have accomplished so much and overcome massive hurdles as far as breaking through the gender barrier.”

 

Organizations: PA Auto Wreckers

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Recent comments

  • james
    January 20, 2013 - 18:16

    There is also a female repo woman in Prince Albert that drives a tow truck and repo's vehicals by herself

  • Jean
    January 19, 2013 - 14:14

    Way to go Amy!!!!After 30 years in the industry I now own my tow company> I,to have d to have you in one what you are doing. It was not easy and some days still isn't. Respect and integrity are my rewards. I respect my guys and they respect me. Keep up the great work!! you are our furure as women. there are very few of us, but we stand for what we believe in. I for one am proud to have you in the towing industry!! You go girl!!!!!!

  • Amy carlson
    January 19, 2013 - 10:02

    You're doing a great job Amy keep up the good work love seeing that there's other ladies in the towing buisness :)