Ask Maya Sieber, a 5-foot-4-inch New Jersey resident (handle: ShortStack) why she’s a trucker and she’ll tell you she’s always been fascinated with big rigs. From the time she was a little girl, she could identify the make and model of any car or truck by the headlights.
Sieber worked anonymously until producers of History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers” found her blog where she wrote stories about trucking. When she got the email that they were considering adding her to the “IRT” crew, she balked at first. “I certainly wasn’t looking for fame. I was looking to be a good trucker,” she says. Although she only had three years trucking experience under her belt and a Kenworth tattoo on her neck, her passion for new challenges won out and she became the newest member of the franchise’s latest season.
Sieber joined Lisa Kelly, Tony Molesky and Dave Redmon for the fifth season of “IRT,” this time on the treacherous Alaskan Dalton Highway, while Hugh Rowland, Alex Debogorski and Rick Yemm drove on Manitoba’s ice roads.
The show finished filming in March and Sieber went back to work for a small, family- owned trucking company in New Jersey. Her life has changed for the better, she says, and she’s as passionate about trucking as she was before she joined the show. Sieber took time to chat with Truckers News.
What’s a nice girl from Jersey doing driving a big rig?
I knew I wanted to drive a big truck since I was 5 years old. It was a childhood dream that I made a reality.
How did your family take it when you told them you were getting your CDL?
I never told anyone that I wanted to be a truck driver until my mom called me on my lunch break when I was on my way to take my written test for my CDL. She sounded a little apprehensive when I told her but she has grown to be very proud and supportive of my career and my success.
Tell us how you got hooked up with “IRT.”
I had written a few articles on safety and trucking, emphasizing the need to educate motorists about sharing the road with big rigs. My goal was to educate America on what a truck driver’s purpose is and why we do what we do. I wanted to explain why we deserve respect and recognition. I was found by my blog and asked to be on the show.
TN: With only three years driving experience, how’s the learning curve on the Dalton?
MS: I’ve heard quite a few people comment on how someone with just three years driving experience could drive the Ice Road and be as successful as someone with 20 years experience. However, I believe it’s the mental approach to driving a big rig. Is it your passion? Your calling? Your dream? I believe it takes more than just knowing how to drive a truck to be excellent at doing so. I can confidently say I can drive a big rig anywhere in the world. I didn’t do this show for the fame or the money, I did it for the experience and I definitely learned things in trucking that I would never learn otherwise. It is a totally different way and style of driving.
TN: You played the role of rookie. How did that go?
MS: I didn’t mind playing the role of the rookie at all! Even a truck driver with 10 years experience will be considered a rookie when they start trucking at a new company. I was open to learning all that I could. I would be foolish to go up there with a “know it all attitude.”
TN: Did you have any really scary moments on the Dalton or is it mostly staged?
MS: The first thing that went through my head when I saw the Dalton was the show doesn’t do justice to how scary and dangerous the road really is. It also doesn’t capture the beauty of Alaska, not even a photo does.
TN: What are the perks of being an IRT?
MS: So far the greatest benefit of having done the show was definitely an amazing experience to last a lifetime but also be able to go to truck shows around the country and meet fellow truckers. That was a goal I had years ago and it has become a reality. I’m so thankful that I have more freedom to go to truck shows, meet with truck drivers. More freedom. It’s fun.
TN: Everyone’s talking about the hot tub scene where you are filmed in your bikini. Tells us about that!
MS: I was surprised that they used it and not particularly happy about it. We decided to check out the hot springs and even though they were filming, it didn’t seem like it would be part of the story. I want to be taken seriously as a trucker. This didn’t help.
TN: What’s the main question other truckers ask you?
MS: They always ask, “What made you want to drive a truck?”
TN: How did you and Lisa Kelly get along?
MS: She was great! We really had a good time, got along and hope to keep in touch. I’m very grateful for her help on and off the screen.
TN: A lot of women consider you and Lisa to be role models for female truckers. Is it a hard life?
MS: Thank you! It was hard starting out. As a woman in a man’s industry, we have to work twice as hard to earn respect and be recognized as someone who can get the job done and get the job done well. I did it all on my own with no help or guidance. As time went on trucking got easier and I’m thankful to have started my career in one of the toughest areas to drive (tri-state area including New Jersey). I am thankful that all my experiences with others have been positive and supportive except for a few in the workplace who were jealous of my accomplishments. On my days off I’d rather be trucking than doing anything else. So much for calling it a job!
TN: How does it feel now, to be back as a regular trucker?
MS: After the season, I took a month off and started trucking again in New Jersey. Can’t live without my passion! I drive for a small family-owned trucking company that’s more relaxed than my previous job.
TN: Will you be back for season six?
MS: If they ask me, I will!
TN: What kind of learning curve did you have when you joined the crew?
MS: I learned a lot from Phil (Krom), Tony and Lisa. I learned a lot in general. One thing for sure is it’s a totally different style of driving and you need to know the rules of driving the Dalton. Without knowing certain things, there’s a slim chance that someone would make it without ultimately wrecking or losing their life.
TN: How can truckers help their public image?
MS: Be proud of what you do for a living. We are not recognized and appreciated for what we do. I think that truckers have to join together and just be heard and educate the world about our purpose. It’s tough to be respected without recognition. Look at all the other professions with recognition; we have doctors, policemen, firefighters and teachers. Truck drivers keep America moving. So where’s our recognition? What would happen without us? Be proud of your career and purpose as a truck driver and be heard; we can change our image for the better and finally get the respect and recognition we deserve.
I think the show has increased the image of truckers and made people notice us. We are simple people, honest and hard working. We need to take pride in what we do and the rest will follow.
TN: Do you get recognized when you go out?
MS: I’m getting recognized more often. It was funny to be asked to sign an autograph at the tollbooth on the Jersey Turnpike!
TN: What else do you like to do besides trucking?
MS: Hunting, working out, being with family.
TN: Readers are going to want to know, married or single?
MS: I have a boyfriend!
TN: It sounds to me like you are having fun.
MS: I’m having a blast! I’m living my dreams and doing what I love to do. I couldn’t ask for more.
MORE QUESTIONS & AUDIO AT TRUCKERSNEWS.COM/MAYA
SEE MAYA LIVE
SEPTEMBER 22 @ 9 P.M. EST
*ASK MAYA QUESTIONS
SPONSORED BY: 5 Hour Energy
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.