NAME, AGE: Anna Basham, 50
HOMETOWN: Muldraugh, Ky.
LAST JOB: School bus driver
MARITAL STATUS/CHILDREN: Widow, three children
WHAT SPARKED INTEREST IN A CDL: I am a widow, children now grown. I’m free to drive all over the country.
FUN FACT: I enjoy playing sports with my grandchildren.
Anna Basham, the last member of our CDL or Bust class from Truck America Training without a CDL, earned hers this morning on her fourth try at the State Fairgrounds in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I’m really proud that I made the accomplishment that I’ve done,” said the emotional Basham, who only had to attempt the on-road portion today after passing the pre-trip on her first try and the maneuvers on her third Sept. 28. “For a 51-year-old woman, this was a big game changer. I was starting to wonder if I was going to be able to do it.”
While Joey Wilson Jr. celebrated his CDL success on Sept. 22, classmate Anna Basham had another tough morning. Basham’s second test was moved up from Sept. 28 because of a cancellation, but she again struggled with the parallel parking part of the maneuvers portion of the exam and will have to re-test again on Sept. 28 after all.
“She did straight line backing good and she did offset [parking] all right, but [on] the parallel parking, she just couldn’t get it in there,” said Wilson, who was watching. “We thought she was going to the driving portion [until] she got out and said it was a waste of time coming down there. I think she just gets overanxious. If she can’t get [the truck parked] the first time, she keeps kicking herself and just makes it worse.”
Wilson wanted to remind Basham via this report that it took him three times to earn his CDL, even though he already had a Class B license, and that she can do it, too.
Anna Basham was rolling this morning. Her son, James, and his wife had relinquished their bed, allowing her to move off the sleep sofa and get some zzzs in advance of her CDL exam.
When it was her turn to be tested, Basham not only overcame the burden of having to perform the entire pre-trip inspection — unlike CDL or Bust classmate Russell Durgansingh — she did so perfectly. She even remembered the gasket around the doors of the trailer that she had forgotten to mention before examiner Evan Harrod could finish totaling her score.
All that stood between Basham and her Class A CDL — the 50-year-old former bus driver has a Class B from her last job — were the backing and parking maneuvers and the road test in Louisville, Kentucky.
After spending last Friday night with her 3-year-old grandson, Jesse, and the next day with him and four more of her seven grandchildren, CDL or Bust student Anna Basham got back to work on the final two days of the holiday weekend.
“Sometimes you wonder…” the former school bus driver said when asked how she had the energy to study her pre-trip inspections all day Sunday and Monday after spending all that time with a quintet ranging in age from 9 months to 3 years.
As August rolled into September on Day 9 for our CDL or Bust class, Anna Basham was in a good place. A week earlier, the former school bus driver had aced her written exam that allowed her to work hard on learning to pilot a tractor-trailer.
“I did much better than I did yesterday,” Basham said during Thursday’s lunch break.
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.”
Anna Basham’s favorite road trip was a journey from Kentucky to Washington state, where she enjoyed the scenery of the Pacific Northwest.
Now that her children are grown, Basham is ready to embark on a new career that will allow her to hit the open road on a regular basis as an over-the-road truck driver.
Photo by John Sommers II for Transport Topics