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It’s winter in Berlin. The dark mornings and evenings and the wet streets make it difficult to get around this capital city. It’s hard to see what’s happening in the side streets and patience is needed to get the large waste collection truck around the corners. Cars that have been double parked and cyclists are constantly holding up the traffic. “Patience! That really is the biggest challenge of this job,” explains 17-year-old Antonia, who is currently doing an apprenticeship to become a professional lorry driver at REMONDIS in Berlin.
Anyone who has met Antonia and her colleague Jessica will find there is no need to discuss gender equality here. Both these women know exactly what’s what – across the whole of Berlin. Being lorry drivers, they don’t have so much physical work. They do, however, find the job of moving the blue wheelie bins a good way to build up their strength with the bins being so full of transport packaging in the winter that the lids won’t close. Both agree that the most difficult part of their job is remaining calm and patient in the traffic.
The fact that Antonia used to take part in boxing competitions has proven to be a great help to her in these chaotic situations. And not because it means she can get out her boxing gloves but because this four-time winner of the Berlin Lightweight Boxing Championships knows how to cope with stress and how to persevere. Today, she only boxes as a hobby as she wishes to concentrate on her apprenticeship at REMONDIS. Nowadays, she likes to get her adrenalin kick by riding her motorbike or her quad bike. “And if I get bored at the weekend, I just take my dog out for a walk for a couple of hours,” she said as if she often needs to get out and about to get rid of her excess energy. Her colleague Jessica would appear to have just as strong a character. This 18-year-old has already made a name for herself among her colleagues as being an excellent mechanic. With her father running his own garage, she knows all about engines and changing oil. So she is not easily thrown off course when she is carrying out her waste collection trips – not even if her truck breaks down.
Jessica Kleine (18) and Antonia Thönißen (17)
Neither woman has had lewd or shallow comments thrown at them. Not from their colleagues, nor out on the streets. “Why should we have?” Antonia asked matter-of-factly. Asking why she chose, as a woman, to take up this profession also seems to be superfluous, as is perhaps the whole discussion about gender diversity. “I’ve always wanted to do this job ever since I was a small child. And this is what I’ve done. Simply because I love it.”