My name is Audrey Rippingale. I am founder and owner of She Works She Plays and driver of the Chick Truck.
One of the earliest memories I have is when I am about 4 years old. I am in the forest on our property on Quadra Island. It is while my 3 older brothers and parents are cutting and peeling logs for the log cabin we are about to build. It is a remote area with no vehicle access, and all is being done by hand. I, being too little to help, am foraging goodies from the land for my make believe café. I serve them salal berries, moss and leaves beautifully displayed on bits of bark I find. I am at home romping and playing in the bush by myself with not a man-made thing in sight. The next memory I have is again with my 3 older brothers. This time we are playing along a rocky shoreline. We take some concrete powder and mix it up to make little roads along the rocks for our matchbox cars. Little did I know that later I would become a concrete truck driver. I was content and at home on this remote shoreline. It seems, I was born to be an Active West Coast Woman.
When I was 17 I hooked up with a west coast boy. With an innate natural love and wisdom of the land beyond his 17 years, he took me further into my appreciation of the west coast by introducing me to hunting and fishing. This is where we fell in love and continue to spend our leisure time in this amazing and wonderful 25 year marriage. We raised two beautiful children on our acreage on the Oyster River. Besides being an outdoor enthusiast, my other passion is truck driving. I started my driving career running a snow plow. Plowing the Gold River Highway in a snow storm when you cannot see the middle of the road was a fast, yet terrifying way to learn how to handle truck driving and running heavy equipment. I also hauled with 18 wheelers for a while and drove Mount Washington's busses getting staff up and down the hill for a winter, but I found my true home at Island Ready Mix where I drove concrete trucks for almost 8 years. I am so proud to have drove Barry Kennedy's red trucks, and I miss the yard and the guys there. They evolved into more than bosses or coworkers and became my friends. Although there was aways lots of teasing, I always felt respected and safe there. We were a team, and this truly is evidence that a woman can fit into a non-traditional job.
After shattering my wrist horribly, working for a year in pain and having two surgeries done, I realized that my days of lifting concrete chutes and handling fire hoses were over. It is time for a new adventure. But I have never been a traditional type of woman, and I love truck driving, so I put my passion for women working in industry and trades together with my passion for driving and voila ... the Chick Truck is born. I have found it challenging over the years to find what fits and feel comfortable for my lifestyle. Many times I have worn clothing that doesn't fit or is too big. Many of my work clothes have been custom cut and sewn, or patched sometimes right on the job site when something catches on my machinery! I want to bring workwear and outer wear to women on the west coast. I want to create a place where women can connect, learn about up-to-date opportunities and news about women in industry or trades, and a place where we can let our presences be known. One woman on a job site stands out, ten of us are just part of the crew.
We are Everywhere Doing Everything
We like to hunt and fish and hike and camp. We work on construction sites, in big trucks, on fish farms, in forestry, mining and aquaculture. We are welders, surveyors, electricians, engineers, timber cruisers, heavy equipment operators and geologists. We work in the rain, the sun and the freezing cold. One day on a weekend in early 2014 I worked by myself in the yard at minus 17 degrees. I had to run the loader to get the snow out of the way to load the bins with aggregate to fill my truck, and I had to fight my way through frozen everything (gates to brakes) using a sledgehammer. We are not afraid, we are Active West Coast Women.
When I am not working, I continue to spend my free time thoroughly enjoying nature, be it camping, hunting, trout or salmon fishing, prawning or just cruising in our boat that my husband guides out of. I am still most comfortable and at home in nature, just as when I was 4 years old.