Test Day 1: Teddy Flener Jr.

CDL or Bust classmates Anna Basham and Russell Durgasingh were quietly confident while waiting for examiner Evan Harrod to arrive at the CDL test site in Louisville, Kentucky, this morning, but Teddy Flener Jr.’s nerves were on high alert.

While Basham was proudly wearing her new CDL or Bust T-shirt under her blue denim long-sleeve and big University of Louisville fan Durgasingh was talking about the 10th-ranked Cardinals’ home game on Saturday against perennial powerhouse Florida State, Flener still was studying his pre-trip inspection.

“If I don’t pass …” Flener mused at one point.

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His fears proved prophetic. After Basham and Durgasingh aced their pre-trip/ in-cab portions of the exam, Flener got in the cab of the Volvo truck. When he climbed down a few minutes later, he had failed because he forgot to turn the engine off after the PSI part of his in-cab.

“It’s not me not knowing [what to do], it’s me getting tensed up and forgetting things,” Flener said. “I got everything all the way down to starting to fan [the engine] off. Instead of keeping my key in the on position, I ended up starting the truck and was fanning down my air brakes. That cost me.

“[Harrod] asked me, ‘Are you done?’ [I said], ‘Yeah, I’m done’ and that’s when he let me know, ‘You can’t fail any parts in the in-cab or the air brakes inspection.’ He explained to me where I went wrong and how I can fix it. He said, ‘Don’t get discouraged. People fail this all the time. Keep your head up and just study the [pre-trip] packet.’ “

Actually, the 25-year-old former electrician’s assistant might have crammed too hard.

“That’s how it always is with me when I’m doing a first-time thing and it’s big,” Flener explained. “This is a big ordeal here. It’s a big commitment and a big career [change] … so my nerves really hit me just like when I took my permit test [on Aug. 25]. I failed it the first time and I came back the next day and I think I only missed one question.

“I’m very comfortable as far my [maneuvers] and my road test. The in-cab inspection is the thing I need to study more. I didn’t [study] it too much having to deal with a sick baby [1-year-old son Grayson] and my girlfriend [Crystal] works during the nighttime hours.”

She’s off today and can watch Grayson, so Flener was planning to dive into his pre-trip after leaving TAT instead of taking a breather.

“I’ve got all day to study,” he said.

Trouble is that Flener now has to wait 15 days to take the test again. There’s enough of a backup that he won’t be tested again until Sept. 29. His brushup day at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, will be Sept. 28.

Having not brought home income for close to a month so he could attend truck driving school, Flener plans to work for a friend’s lawn care service for the next two weeks. And if he passes the CDL exam on the 29th, he hopes to start hauling construction equipment for his uncle’s company in the area next month.

 — By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter; photo of Teddy Flener Jr. being consoled by Anna Basham by John Sommers II for TT.