Learning how to drive a truck at Truck America Training is a pretty grueling experience. It’s 16 days of near-constant time in the classroom, practicing on the facility’s range or driving a big rig on the roads in and around Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
So it’s understandable that Transport Topics’ CDL or Bust students have to kick back and relax when they have the chance. And that’s just what happened at the end of their second full week.
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property.
Students Joey Wilson Jr. and Wayne Meenach joined instructor Shawn Dillon for a couple of brewskies last Friday night at a nearby bar, The County Line.
Wilson, who already has his Class B commercial driver license from his days behind the wheel of a dump truck, was intent on getting away from studying his pre-trip inspections and the like over the three-day holiday weekend.
“We went out and had a nice little time,” Wilson said of the evening with his girlfriend Catie Reed, Meenach and Dillon.
Wilson said Reed, who works with adults with special needs, rebuffed Dillon when he tried to convince her to follow Wilson to TAT.
The get-together was another example of how the CDL or Bust students are bonding, trying to make sure that each of them passes the Class A test next week.
Wilson noted that he and classmate Teddy Flener Jr. have been in touch regularly after hours.
“You can’t have enough friends, at least good friends,” Wilson said.
Wilson has become close enough with the TAT staff that he has coaxed instructors to let him drive around roundabouts and other sharp turns so that he’ll feel confident in a big rig in those situations down the road.
He’s also enjoying his public participation in CDL or Bust, sharing the blog posts and videos with family and friends as well as on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
“People really like that I’m trying to better myself [by trying to become a truck driver],” Wilson said, adding that Reed liked ClassCam from the first week so she could see what he was up to. “Everybody’s been real positive.”
Wilson had a favorable reaction to the message from Kemper Trucking recruiter Andrew Harden, who came to TAT Sept. 7 and told the students about the various options for the company’s drivers.
“If you don’t want to be back for a while, you can head out [long haul],” he said. “If you want to be back at home semi-regularly, it’s an every other day thing. If you want to be home for the weekends, you’ll be home for the weekends.”
Wilson, who’s unsure what kind of schedule he wants if he earns his Class A license, admitted he had been nervous for the driving portion of his Class B test. This time, the addition of the air lines and trailer have turned the tables for him.
“You ain’t got that extra back half [so] I didn’t really struggle with that,” Wilson said of his Class B pre-trip. “Now you have to get your wording down. It ain’t just, ‘He knows what he’s talking about. Let’s move on.’ That’s the most stressful thing. I’m not worried about the driving part of [the Class A test]. Next Thursday’s my time and I know what I need to do between now and then.”
-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for Transport Topics