Video: Wayne Meenach, A Serious Man

Wayne Meenach is a serious man. Unlike millions of Americans, Meenach didn’t spend the entire Labor Day weekend just having fun with family and friends. The 48-year-old aspiring truck driver spent part of the holiday studying for this week’s training. Until the Louisville plant he worked at closed in July, Meenach had spent 23 years building Ford Motor Co. vehicles. By the end of those two-plus decades, Meenach was a final inspector.

PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property. 

“I’d like to think I was the best,” he said with a chuckle.

Meenach is treating his 16 days at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, with the same seriousness. So much so that he skipped lunch today so he could study his pre-trip inspections when he wasn’t chatting with Transport Topics during the mid-day break.

“It’s a job,” Meenach explained on Day 11 of Transport Topics’ CDL or Bust series. “I take it pretty seriously and I want to be good at it.”

The pre-trips have become a family thing as Meenach’s wife will quiz him to help him get the 130-point checklist memorized. With that boost at home and his CDL exam now just nine days away, Meenach is feeling increasingly positive.

“I think I picked it right back up,” Meenach said. “[There’s] a lot of hand-eye-foot coordination, things I’m not used to doing. Today was by far my best day driving. Everything you’ve been taught you gotta put into action and when you can do that, it feels pretty good. Maybe the extra day [away from TAT], clearing your mind a little bit was … beneficial. It gives you a lot of confidence.”

However, Meenach, who served in the Army from 1987 to 90 and then showed reservists how to load, unload, clean and shoot very large guns during the subsequent Desert Storm conflict at Fort Knox near Louisville, isn’t looking down the road to next week’s big test, preferring to focus on each day’s work.

“I try to study my pre-trip during breaks,” Meenach said. “We have some small talk, but most everybody is focused on what we’re doing.”

An example of that focus is that the big University of Louisville fans in the CDL or Bust class, whose team cruised in its football opener, didn’t give University of Kentucky supporter Meenach grief for the Wildcats blowing a 35-10 lead and losing 44-35 to Southern Mississippi at home.

“At my old job, they would’ve rode me hard, but here we’re all focused on what we’re doing,” Meenach said. “I’m learning new stuff every day. We change up what time of day we drive [and] who we drive with so it doesn’t become a bored thing. You get to learn a little bit from each trainer and by the time you’re done, you’ll figure out what works for you and you’ll be good at it.”

With that comes the ultimate payoff of job offers to choose from after he earns his CDL. 

-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.