Teddy Flener Jr. is a trooper. Not the kind of trooper who’ll be administering the CDL exam to Flener and his six CDL or Bust classmates next week. No, Flener is a trooper because he not only dragged himself back to class today after missing yesterday with a nasty stomach bug that prompted him to drink nearly a full bottle of Pepto Bismol, but he took the time to Skype with Transport Topics not long after vomiting in his car on the way back from the test course.
“I had to rush to my dad’s house,” said the 25-year-old Flener, a former high school quarterback who recalled losing his lunch on the field a couple of times during the second of the twice-daily August practices in preparation for a football season. “Luckily, I had a change of clothes with me.”
Flener might have gotten sick from his son, Grayson, who turned 1 on Thursday and has the same illness. Flener and girlfriend Crystal have invited about 50 guests to a birthday party Saturday, so they have their fingers crossed that the birthday boy and his dad will be feeling much better by then.
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Flener said if a similar bug hits him when he’s driving a truck professionally, he’ll probably pull over to a shoulder, put the flashers on and take his mandatory 10-hour break right then and there.
Perhaps he’ll be driving then for McElroy Truck Lines. A recruiter from the company visited the CDL or Bust class at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, last week and particularly impressed Flener, who came to TAT with some apprehension but said he has fallen in love with the trucking industry.
“I kinda felt a connection with them,” said. “You [drive] within a 500-mile radius from Louisville, so you’ll pretty much only be 11 hours away from home. [At the most], you’re only 11 hours from home. If you have a doctor’s appointment, they’ll try to get you to come back your way [for it] and then go back on the road. I want to drive my local routes and still see family. I want to be home on the weekends. My dad, the person I really look up to, has always been there for me.”
In order to be there for Grayson by earning truck driver’s pay, the former electrician’s assistant needs to pass his CDL exam Sept. 14. Flener said he’s confident about excelling on the driving pieces of the test but acknowledged he still needs to study the inspection portion.
“If I get my in-cab and my pre-trip down good, I shouldn’t have any problems at all,” Flener said.
— By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.