ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — For Sunny Aldrich, co-owner and general manager of Fred’s Towing & Recovery, towing runs in the family line. In the 1980s, his uncle Fred started the towing business alongside his grandparents.
Now she works alongside her uncle. One of Aldrich’s favorite parts of her job is long-haul towing, where she can see much of the Alaskan scenery.
“It’s just kind of me and my truck,” Aldrich said. “…It’s really nice to go to the area where there is no cell phone service. No one can find me and there’s only me and the road.
Aldrich was born and raised in Alaska. Growing up, she hunted and fished alongside her mother.
“I learned a lot from her about how to get a car off the ground,” Aldrich said.
Her mother also taught her how she can do whatever she wants.
“Not thinking that there are things that I can’t do because I’m a woman, or because, you know, it’s traditionally something that only men do,” Aldrich said.
It is a state of mind that she now practices regularly. For the past four years, Aldrich has also towed, working as one of the few female tow truck drivers in the Anchorage and Wasilla areas. Nationally, she is among the 6.6% of tow truck drivers in the industry who are women, according to the Analysis of the shortage of truckers in 2019. The report illustrates the skewed ratio of female tow truck drivers to the national percentage of female workers across all industries, which is 47%.
“You learn to work smarter instead of working harder when there are things you physically can’t do. You learn to use the equipment to your advantage,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich said people are often surprised on the phone when they find out she’ll be the driver.
“Nobody ever really reacts negatively, they’re just surprised,” Aldrich said. “They just assume it’s going to be a guy showing up.”
However, when she arrives on stage, she says they are in awe of watching her, especially the children. She said it was one of her favorite reactions to see.
“Especially little girls, but also sometimes little boys when sometimes it doesn’t cross their minds that a woman can do this job,” Aldrich said. “I’ve had these wondering looks on little girls’ faces, where they’re just like, ‘Wow,’ and you can tell they find that really fascinating, and they’re really interested.”
However, Aldrich still runs into situations where male clients will try to help her while she is working.
“Now most of the time they just offer me help backing up because they’re very worried about whether or not I can effectively back up a tow truck. Usually that’s easy for me,” said Aldrich. “…Most of the time it’s like, yeah, I can do it. I can back an articulated rock truck over a pile of dirt in the dark. I can handle a tow truck in the middle of the day in your driveway. »
Aldrich is now preparing to pass on the lessons she learned about towing to her 20-year-old daughter, bringing towing to the next generation of her family, as well as working women across the state.
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