Anna Basham stands out in the CDL or Bust class at Truck America Training. While school owner Debby Mobley and part-time instructor Ann Wooldridge are also female, Basham is the only woman among the seven students in the class. At 50, she’s also the oldest, twice the age of the class baby, Teddy Flener Jr.
“If I can do this at my age, anybody can do it,” said Basham, a widow, mother of three and grandmother of seven. “This is probably my last chance to do this because I’m not a young chick no more, but I’m still healthy. Mama has always took care of everybody else. Now Mama’s going to do something she wants to do and needs to do, because of the financial. It’s time to move on and let the kids run their own lives and not be there to take care of ’em.”
Basham’s eldest, James, is a truck driver. She has been staying with him during training rather than driving 68 miles each way to her home. James gave up his bed for his mother the night before the Day 4 exam and has given her some tips on maps and the like, but she didn’t need much help to ace the test.
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property.
Basham, who has been driving a school bus for less than $10,000 a year, came to TAT with her Class B permit, so she only had to take the combination vehicle portion. She got the first 16 questions correct, so she had passed before reaching the final four.
“I felt like I already had a foot in the door since I had driven a bus which is 42 feet long,” Basham said. “We have to record our mileage and our fuel [use]. I had to ride an obstacle course in [a bus] and parallel park it. That gave me a little bit of a head start.”
After serving as a volunteer firefighter for 17 years, being the only woman in the class is old hat to Basham.
“There wasn’t very many women,” Basham recalled. “There was some harassment, but you had to put your foot down and say, ‘I don’t tolerate that.’ They’ll respect you for it.”
Basham might not be one of the boys in her CDL class, but she does share the interests of many men in the Bluegrass State.
“I love Kentucky basketball and outdoor sports -- hunting, camping,and fishing,” she said while sporting a T-shirt extolling her beloved Wildcats. “I hardly ever miss a game.”
Basham will have to miss quite a few games if she’s hired as a long-haul driver, but she’s OK with that. In fact, she has already packed her bags.
“I want to travel and see the world,” Basham said. “Plus the pay is a lot better.”
-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT