The Toughest Woman on Reality TV

Farm girl Sandy Gabriel shows the boys, and the rest of us, how to muscle through the most difficult and dangerous jobs in America with a little Texas flare. Gabriel burst out of the closet on NBC’s America’s Toughest Jobs, as her friends, family, and students back home learn of her sexuality through reality TV.

BY Kandice Day

October 30 2008 11:00 PM ET

On NBC’s
reality show America’s Toughest Jobs, Sandy Gabriel
took the bull by the horns, literally, as she braved
crab fishing in the Bering Sea, scaled high-rises on
bridge duty, and pulled her teammates through tree
logging. Gabriel’s “tough country girl”
attitude and in-your-face commentary, and the fact
that she destroys the men in every challenge, provides
ample ammunition for retaliation. (The phrase “only
steers and queers come from Texas” was thrown
around quite a bit by job bosses.)

But back in
Winnie, Texas, Gabriel sheds her cowboy hat and boots for
heels and a chalkboard. As she tells us, high school
students can be just as malicious as adults, and her
passion for teaching has always overshadowed her
desire to rock the boat. “You figure, adults are
quick to call you a dyke when they’re mad at
you, what do you think a kid’s going to
say,” Gabriel said. “I spent my whole life
hiding who I am… I’m glad that I got the
opportunity to do this, to basically shout out loud
who I really am.”

So I just watched
the finale an hour ago…

The finale
sucked! (Laughter) It sucked cause I didn’t take home
the prize! I had a watch party for all of the shows.
We had a big cook-out and a watch party and had
everybody over for the finale.

Are you surprised
when you see how the shows are edited?

Sometimes, yes I
am surprised. Because sometimes I think they’re out
of order with the editing and stuff like that. I was
definitely surprised because my hand was already hurt
(in the finale). I didn’t hurt my hand from
punching that thing (the wall). So, I was kind of upset
about them saying that.

You were actually
trampled by a bull, injuring your ankle. How long did
you have to recover before the next job?

That first
incident with the bull I had three days. But I was in and
out of getting x-rays and getting my leg looked at. I
just took off the boot and got rid of the crutches
right before the next job. The first doctor said it
was fractured and I was done, but the second doctor cleared
me to go. I didn’t want to go to the hospital,
but they made me go. It didn’t air, but I
fought two more bulls. I didn’t want my leg to be
looked at until the job was completely done.
I’m an athlete and I’m all about get
back up and go. But for liability reasons, though, I had to
go to the doctor.

How long did you
have between each job?

Every job was
different. It depended on what time we finished the job of
that day. We basically did two jobs a week. We’d
spend at least three days on each job working
ridiculous hours, which is what the blue-collar
American workers do for us every day.

Every episode I
watch, it seems like the guys do a lot of complaining.
Did they really complain that much, or was it simply how the
show was edited?

(Laugher) A lot
of the guys did a lot of complaining. Steven never had a
job before. So it was definitely an eye opener for him. The
only person there that I felt was a real hard worker
was Ben. I’m really excited that he did win. If
I didn’t win it better be Ben because we come from
the same hard-working background where you
don’t have time to whine, you just get the job
done. A lot of them were thinking “this is the
toughest job ever.” But what did they expect?
It’s not going to be Candyland.

Did you make any
friends on the show?

I talk to Romel a
lot. We were pretty good friends on the show. A lot of
people think it’s funny that I talk to Amy. She got
voted off the second show. She’s actually a
good honest person. Every now and then I talk to Ben.

Tags: television

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