First Person Singular, Terri Core, transportation operator


Terri Core is a transportation operator with the Virginia Department of Transportation. (Matt McClain/For The Washington Post)
February 14, 2013

I like big equipment, always have. I was raised on the largest dairy farm in Loudoun County and have always been around big animals and big machines. My granddaddy was taking me up and down the road on a tractor when I was an itty-bitty thing. I think I was 6 or so when I did it on my own, haven’t stopped since. On the farm, I was wherever they needed me to be, doing whatever they wanted me to do.

If it pertains to maintenance on the highway, I do it. Even when I’m not working, I can’t help but notice what needs fixing on the road. I run a motor grater, run the snow blower, push snow, lay asphalt, do patch work and flag traffic. Flagging traffic is the worst job, in my opinion. That is most definitely more nerve-racking than driving in the snow. We don’t know what’s going through drivers’ heads when we’re out there standing in the middle of the highway. People are in a hurry. They got to get where they want to go, and they don’t care what’s in their way. I’ve had several close calls. One tractor-trailer decided he just wasn’t going to stop and kept on a-comin’. My boss thought for sure I was under that truck. But, oh, no, I was out of there. I was on up the bank and over the side of the road.

The best thing about the job isn’t the equipment, although I do like it. It’s the guys I work with. I do not have any brothers and sisters myself, so when I came here, I found my brothers. I’ve never been made to feel different because I’m the only woman. They love me.

I love the snow. The more the better, I say. My boss would kill me if he heard me! I used to watch the forecast and get all excited, but now it’s not as fun. I blame the traffic. I’m not scared of the snow. It’s no big thing for me; I just get in and go. It’s everybody else out there. I do the night shift, and I’m like, “What are you people doing out here at 1 or 2 in the morning in the snow? Get out my way!” During the day shift, the stuff that frustrates me is what people do when they’re supposed to be driving. I see people shaving, eating breakfast, reading the paper and texting. Texting scares me more than snow, because I can’t control other people, I can only control how I drive. I’ve been running these roads for 27 years, so I have to trust that I know the roads and how to handle them. When it’s snowing, you have to be patient. You can’t dog it. You don’t know where the road is. You just have to guess and hope for the best. I’ve only had one accident in all these years, so you can say my guess is pretty good.


Terri Core. (Matt McClain/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
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