Through the first three weeks of CDL or Bust, we introduced you to a large cast of characters: students Anna Basham, Russell Durgasingh, Teddy Flener Jr., Jason Horton, Wayne Meenach, Ryan Strange and Joey Wilson Jr.; Truck America Training owner Debby Mobley; and TAT instructors Bob Cross, Ed Stephens, Shawn Dillon and Ann Wooldridge.
And this series also wouldn’t have been possible without the help of instructor Jimmy Gibson and long-time TAT staffers Kathy Jo McPherson and Judy Walters.
However, today we want you to meet someone who spends even more time at TAT in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, than Mobley. That would be Pumpkin, the 15-year-old cat who has lived most of her life inside TAT’s doors and these days usually can be found snoozing in Walters’ office if she’s not checking out what’s going on during business hours. Pumpkin has the run of the place and lives there ‘round the clock.
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Pumpkin was young when she gave birth to a litter of kittens in the field outside TAT’s facility. She brought her babies one by one underneath the garage stairs and wouldn’t let Mobley or anyone else touch her.
“She would hiss at us so I said, ‘OK, raise your kittens there and when they get big enough, you and them can go,’ “ Mobley recalled. “The kittens got weaned. My students all wanted a kitten, and they each took one home. Then, one of my trainers told me that we had a horrible problem with mice in the garage because they would come in when it got cold in the field. He suggested that we keep Pumpkin so that she could take care of our mouse problem in the garage and they wouldn’t find a way from the garage into the rest of the building.”
So the staff put food and water bowls in the garage for Pumpkin with the idea that she would make it her new home. However, the cat had other ideas.
“She’s a very personable cat and every time a trainer came into the garage, she was through the door and into the rest of the building,” Mobley said. “After a while, we gave up. We weren’t going to stop her.”
And so Pumpkin, who was given that name because, as Mobley said, “she was big, orange and round,” became TAT’s resident cat. There might be an occasional mouse in the garage, but even at her advanced age, Pumpkin keeps them out of the rest of the building while serving as TAT’s unofficial greeter.
“Everybody loves her,” Mobley said. “Having her here lightens the mood for a lot of people. It makes people feel more like they’re at home.”
Flener said, “She’s always doing the ‘meow’ thing. She seems to be hungry a lot. I don’t know why. She gets fed all the time.”
Added Meenach: “I think she takes a shine to anybody that pays her attention.”
— By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo of Pumpkin at Judy Walters’ desk by John Sommers II for TT.