After learning that CDL or Bust classmates Anna Basham and Teddy Flener Jr. had failed their CDL exams yesterday, Jason Horton studied a little harder and a little longer last night.
Horton was still so nervous about taking his exam this morning that he arrived at the test site in Louisville, Kentucky, at 6:30 a.m., an hour ahead of schedule. Then, during the maneuvers third of the exam, Horton started to offset park the truck before examiner Evan Harrod apologized and had him perform the straight backing first as is supposed to happen.
“I always thought [that was] the stress-free, easy part since [the examiner’s] not in the truck,” the sweaty Horton said after explaining he no longer felt that way.
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Knowing that CDL or Bust classmate/fellow ardent University of Louisville fan Russell Durgasingh had volunteered to test first yesterday and was the only one of the three students to pass, Ryan Strange did so today only to be singled out for the only full per-trip inspection and then made to wait to perform his maneuvers and road test until Horton, Wayne Meenach and Joey Wilson Jr were done.
“I got the whole truck and trailer, I wasn’t expecting that one,” said the 32-year-old Strange, who’ll put in applications tomorrow to drive in the Louisville area. “Then I had to … sit around waiting [for about three hours]. I smoked a lot of cigarettes. I tried to stay loose and tried not to think about it.”
As for the ever even-keeled Meenach, he was so pumped to have passed his pre-trip that he high-fived Harrod, perhaps causing him to lose his equilibrium for his maneuvers when he came close to screwing up the parallel parking portion.
“I was pretty excited [because] a lot of people had been flunking pre-trip,” the 48-year-old Meenach said with a chuckle back at Truck America Training in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. “[Then] I had a terrible time with the parallel parking. I did everything that I practiced, but it didn’t work. For a moment there, I was getting aggravated. I took a deep breath, asked [Harrod] how many points I had [lost]. Where I lined up my trailer, it wasn’t working. I knew had to bring it over to the other side of the cone a lot further so I could keep the rear end in. It worked.”
Evidently, since there were fist bumps all around as Strange, Horton and Meenach, who'll consider offers to drive locally and over the road, earned their CDLs and were congratulated by Wilson, who failed but will retest Sept. 18 thanks to a spot opening up because of a cancellation.
“I feel awesome,” said the 29-year-old Horton, who’ll work his final two weeks as a box truck driver while deciding for whom he’ll put his Class A license to use. “Ryan got the whole [pre-trip] so we knew we wasn’t going to have to. I got the motor, which is the thing you study the most. I got really lucky.”
And the seven CDL or Bust students got lucky when they signed up for the same class not knowing each other and became a kind of a family for the last three-plus weeks.
— By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter; photo of Ryan Strange and Wayne Meenach by John Sommers II for TT.