Test Day 1: Russell Durgasingh

Maybe it’s his nature. Maybe it comes from his days as a fighter in the ring. Or maybe he learned his lesson after failing his CDL permit test Aug. 25.

Whatever the reason, Russell Durgasingh didn’t get cocky after passing the pre-trip portion of his CDL exam today in Louisville, Kentucky, and not just because examiner Evan Harrod only asked him do Part A, skipping everything behind the air lines.

“I’ve always had an issue with anxiety, so I’d rather jump in the deep end and start swimming,” Durgasingh said when asked why he volunteered to test first.

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Instead of pumping his fists after acing the pre-trip, Durgasingh walked quietly back toward CDL or Bust classmates Anna Basham and Teddy Flener Jr. and said, “I’ve got more to do. I’ve gotta nail my parallel parking.”

That was the part of Durgasingh’s preparations at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, that had given him the most trouble. So the 45-year-old former car salesman, factory worker and medical shuttle driver was very careful, opting to use his chances to get out of the cab to make sure he was parking correctly.

“I got out the first time to make sure my back end of the trailer was lined up properly,” Durgasingh said. “If you’re too far out or too far in, it can throw off the whole thing. [Then] I went ahead and made my 45[-degree turn], cut it back, straightened up my trailer and I was right on point with the cone. [But] backing into [the space], I got a little bit off … probably 6 inches to a foot. [Harrod] reminded me that I still had two pullups. So I took the opportunity to take one, realigned and got right in there.”

Durgasingh had passed that part of the exam without even hitting a cone. He followed by doing well on the road and had earned his CDL, the only one of the three CDL or Bust students to do so today. With that, Durgasingh felt he deserved to don his green CDL or Bust T-shirt that he had brought with him to the test.

“I’m on top of the world right now,” said Durgasingh, who was congratulated by tomorrow’s CLD or Bust test-takers Jason Horton, Wayne Meenach, Ryan Strange and Joey Wilson Jr. when he returned to TAT after consoling Basham and Flener.

Durgasingh called his wife, Angela, who manages the Kentucky Humane Society shelter, as soon as he passed the test.

“She broke down crying [in joy],” he said. “This is a new chapter of our lives. I was on the fence for a long time about doing this. She was the one that said, ‘You should do it.’ She gets all the credit.”

Durgasingh then headed home to fill out three or four job applications with hopes of beginning his truck driving chapter as soon as next week.

“Preferably local, but I’m open to over-the-road if somebody sells me on that as long as I can be home on the weekends and be with my family,” he said.

— By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT