Ryan Strange has seen a lot of, well, strange behavior during his time as a casino dealer at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana.
“I had a guy bet five grand a hand [en route to losing] well over $50,000,” he recalled. “I gave out $20,000 one night to some out-of-town drunk guy who didn’t even know what he was doing.”
Strange plans to put his days as a casino dealer behind him if he passes his CDL exam Sept. 15. But for now, he’s still cramming his part-time hours at the casino into his weekend breaks from Truck America Training across the Ohio River in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
That included three eight-hour shifts over Labor Day weekend while his classmates were relaxing or studying their trucking manuals.
Strange said it took a little time to re-adjust to the world of large trucks on Day 11 of the 16-day training program after three days at the gaming tables.
“At first, it was a little rusty, but after getting back in the driver’s seat and going for a little bit, I got back in the hang of it,” said Strange, who managed to carve out a little study time on Monday night. “Every day it’s getting a little better, getting a little more confidence in yourself, progressing to where I need to be. I’m feeling pretty good about it.”
Strange said the CDL or Bust students are continuing to forge bonds as they help each other in and around the trucks and chat during breaks. Although Anna Basham, Wayne Meenach and Russell Durgasingh are all between the ages of 45 and 50 and Teddy Fleener Jr, Joey Wilson Jr., Jason Horton and Strange are all between 25 and 32, Strange doesn’t see a generation gap.
“We all get along pretty good,” said Strange, who agreed with Meenach that Taco Bell is, sadly, the leading lunch spot near TAT. “Everybody’s included in our conversations.”
Like his classmates, Strange prefers the hours behind the wheel on the open road rather than the time spent practicing on TAT’s range.
“I like getting out there in the truck,” he said. “When we get back here, it’s a little slower doing the same thing over and over and over. I’m looking forward to getting a career started and start moving forward toward something.”
-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.