Although he has never driven a truck professionally and hadn’t taken a test that mattered in three decades, Wayne Meenach sailed through all three sections of the Class A commercial driver license permit exam on Day 4 of our CDL or Bust series.
“Of course, I was nervous, but I concentrated on the questions, read through ’em slowly … went through all my choices and made the best choice,” the 48-year-old Meenach explained during a Day 7 chat. “I was pretty excited [when I passed]. We worked hard on it. We studied hard and it all paid off.”
Maybe it helped that, unlike some of his classmates, Meenach didn’t put himself through a last cram session the night before the exam.
“You gotta give your mind time to rest,” he explained.
Meenach said he tried not to get overconfident and to stay focused as he aced the first two sections.
“You’ve gotta pass all three so the third one’s just as important as the first two,” added Meenach, who noted that the exam included many trick questions, as the instructors at Truck America Training had warned.
Week 2 at the Shepherdsville, Kentucky, school has focused on a different kind of learning as Meenach and his six classmates have gotten behind the wheel of tractor-trailers for the first time. The focus on Days 6 and 7 of the 16-day program was on backing up and parking big rigs, with a separate session on pre-trip planning.
“It was a lot different because I never drove anything like that, so of course I was intimidated, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes,” Meenach said. “When I was in the military, I drove a [tank], but I didn’t have a 53-foot trailer behind me. Offset parking has been the hardest thing I’ve experienced so far. My first two moves [both 45-degree turns], I’ve got them down, but after that, it’s kind of tricky.”
Of course, as Meenach proved on his permit exam, he can handle tricky situations.
“I’ll get it,” he said about offset. “I’m kinda more book-smart, but I’m going to be a good truck driver [after] the next couple of weeks.”
-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.