Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Mon 06 Jan 2020

From Adversity to Heavy Equipment Operating

Canadian woman Kathy Tuccaro has been to hell and back in her life and in this open and frank interview she tells us about her harrowing experiences in graphic detail and how she has slipped into a new career working with heavy plant and machinery which has clearly turned her life around.

From Adversity to Heavy Equipment Operating

Some of the details in this article are not the kind of things we would normally discuss on this blog, but it’s essential to explain what she has been through, Kathy takes up the story.

“I spent a lifetime refusing to acknowledge any trauma or abuse that happened in my life; choosing to pretend it never happened instead. I was a nurse for 13 years and was very good at taking care of others but unable to care for myself. My mental health was a mess and I didn’t even know it until the day I crashed and burned on shift. I showed up for my night shift, looked at my patient list and couldn’t read the words. It looked like Chinese to me, and I knew right then and there that I was done. I was done wearing the mask saying I was ok. I couldn’t pretend anymore that I was strong and tough. I quit my job and ran down to the psychiatric ward to get the help I so desperately needed. However, they sent me to be assessed by a doctor in the Emergency dept. He said I didn’t have a psychiatric condition, I just needed to quit drinking alcohol and address the longstanding issues of my past and I knew right then that he was right”.

“It took me from 2008 to 2012 to figure out who Kathy was underneath all the lies and betrayal that was instilled into me since childhood. I was molested as a small child, grew up in a violent and dysfunctional family, forced into sex at a very young age, drugged and raped at 18 by a photographer in Miami after a photo session, gang raped in Montreal when I was 19, I even attempted suicide 3 times shortly thereafter and moved across Canada to get away from everything that had happened to me”.

“I started over, had my daughter and put myself through nursing school. I began to drink in 1999 and continued until 2012. My thought processing was warped due to the dysfunction growing up and all the unaddressed sexual assaults. I chose men that were violent (not in the beginning) and spent 2000-2007 in 2 very violent relationships. I literally should be dead from it. I was strangled 3 times, I miscarried due to violence, I was stalked, beaten, raped, held prisoner in my own home, I had a bodyguard follow my every move, I lived with a shovel on my porch as a reminder of what I would be buried with, I was under constant death threats and of being sold into human trafficking. I escaped in 2007 by the Grace of God alone and tried to restart my life with. All be it with a damaged mind. As a result of all this I ended up having a breakdown in 2008”.

“When I ended up losing everything I owned (again) and was drunk and homeless on the streets with Toothless Joe, I made a decision that my story was NOT going to end standing beside that guy! I have always known that deep inside me there was a greater purpose for my life, so I went to get the help I needed by living in a women’s long-term treatment home. I had to unlearn everything that was instilled in me, I had to relearn just who Kathy was, and then accept it all”.

“I knew that I couldn’t go back to nursing and needed a career where I didn’t have to take care of anyone but myself. I had to go to a career planning workshop to figure what I wanted to be when I grew up at the age of 42!”

“It turned out the test said that I should be a Heavy Equipment Operator! I laughed so hard I just about fell off my chair thinking, this can’t be right the test must be wrong, as I saw it, It was simply ridiculous, I was 42 year old woman, I don’t even like equipment, I am not mechanically inclined in anyway shape or form and I had always just figured that heavy equipment is just a man’s job”.

“The lady said if only I would believe in myself a little bit, I would see the test was right. She sent me to a non-profit organization called Women Building Futures who assist women to get into the trades”.

“The day I walked in, Exxon Mobil, the biggest oil & gas company in the world, just happened to be the day they were sponsoring 16 women to learn how to operate equipment. They picked 16 women out of 170 who applied and I was chosen for a 12-week course. Out of the 16 they picked 12 of us were hired.

This was in 2013 and I have been operating equipment ever since then. These days I drive one of the biggest trucks in the world, the Caterpillar 797F dumptruck, I also spend time on a Caterpillar 793 (52,000 gallon) water truck and more recently a Cat 24M motor grader. This job has saved my sanity and life. I work 10 days on then get 10 days off, plus a month vacation. I now travel the world on my days off working with women in shelters, youth in schools, juvenile homes and even go to prisons. I bring school supplies and toiletries to other countries when I visit. I do a lot of charity in my own community as well”.

Kathy has turned her life story into a book called Dream Big, in which she goes into more detail about the events in her life which is aimed at inspiring women around the world, you can find out more by visiting her website here.

The Digger Man Blog would like to thank Kathy Tuccaro for contacting us and for sharing her story and photos. 


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