It took three attempts and two examiners over eight days, but CDL or Bust student Joey Wilson Jr. passed his CDL exam Sept. 22 in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Usually three’s an unlucky number for me, but it was all right today,” the happy and relieved Wilson said after returning to Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, with the good news.
Wilson had come up short on the brake section of the pre-trip third of the test on Sept. 15 because of a miscommunication with examiner Evan Harrod. Wilson failed again on Sept. 19 because the last traffic light during the road portion turned yellow while he was still in the intersection with Harrod in the cab.
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos from Graduation Week
So Wilson was thrilled when he learned that not only could he test for a third time in a little over a week — while classmate Teddy Flener Jr. goes two weeks between tests — but that Jerry Hess, not Harrod, would be his examiner.
In fact, Wilson was so pumped for today’s exam that, on the advice of TAT instructors Bob Cross and Shawn Dillon, he arrived at the test site by 7 a.m. so that he could go first.
Wilson’s confidence also rose after a smooth road test Sept. 21 with TAT instructor Ed Stephens.
“Yesterday [the light that had cost me on Sept. 19] was red when I was coming up to it so I made sure that I was far enough back that I could shift into fourth [gear] and go through it as quickly as possible,” Wilson explained. “Today, I had a [TAT student driver in the] truck in front of me, though. I had to downshift almost to second [gear] because they were taking forever to turn in [to the testing parking lot]. I was just like, ‘I hope I can make this light,’ but from everything I’ve heard, Jerry would’ve understood if it turned yellow when I was in the intersection.”
In any event, the light was still green when Wilson’s truck got past it. He finally had the green light to become a Class A driver.
While Wilson celebrated, CDL or Bust 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 over-anxious. 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.
His advice to Basham: “Slow down, you got all the time in the world, just take it easy, you know which way you need to turn it. If you realize it’s not going the way you want it, stop. In the first foot of you backing it up, you’ll realize if that wheel’s messed up.”
As for Wilson’s future, while the 27-year-old former dump truck driver knows he can have a job hauling equipment locally for a friend’s company, he wants to talk to his girlfriend and mull his options for a couple of days just like classmates Russell Durgasingh, Jason Horton, Wayne Meenach and Ryan Strange, who all passed last week but have yet to decide for whom they’re going to drive.
-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photos by John Sommers II for TT.