At Bullitt Central High School in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, Teddy Flener Jr. lived the dream of many guys: playing quarterback and dating a cheerleader. But now that he’s 25 and a father, the electrician’s assistant is pursuing a more ambitious and lifelong dream.
“I was always fascinated by trucks,” said Flener, a CDL or Bust student who has two uncles with CDLs. “I want to travel and see the world. I’ve been to pretty much everything on the East Coast and I’ve been to Texas, but I want to go California. After I graduate, I’m considering driving a flatbed where you get paid 27% of the load. So you could make around $55,000 the first year. As an electrician’s assistant, I made $29,000 to $30,000.”
Flener said he has been doing fine through two and a half days of the 16-day course, but he was nervous enough about the decision to quit his job and go for his CDL that he was baptized eight days before the Aug. 22 start date.
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property.
“I gave myself over to God,” Flener said. “I was second-guessing myself about whether I wanted to [change careers] or not. I kept praying and finally I had the nerve to go through with the process. I pray every night that I can get through each subject and each test.”
Flener said air brakes and the combination vehicle topics have given him some trouble but that studying each night has helped him pass the practice tests. Flener, who received a government grant to pay the $4,600 tuition and expenses at Truck America Training, has two job offers if he graduates and passes the test given by a Kentucky state trooper come mid-September.
“I know there’s a job if I want it,” Flener said. “I want to drive a semi for a while and then maybe start my own dump truck business when I go local after a year and a half or two years. It’s hard to find jobs out here these days that’s gonna pay a good wage. In the trucking industry, that’s always gonna be there. Think about how your food gets to you? From a truck.”
And Flener is willing to drive over-the-road for a while to provide for son Grayson, who turns 1 on Sept. 8, and girlfriend Crystal Chappell, whom he might wed next year.
“Since my kid’s come into this world, it’s a whole different atmosphere,” said the country music fan who plans to learn to play the guitar during all those likely upcoming hours away from his loved ones.
- By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.