What is your typical work day like? Here at On The Road Truck Repair, the main focus of a mechanic is fixing big rigs. But we’re not like all the other truck repair companies. We did an interview asking a few mechanics why OTR is unique in helping them do what they love. That’s because here at OTR, we connect a name with a face and not just another paycheck.
Flexibility and Variety Makes a Great Typical Work Day
According to the US Department of Labor, anything outside the traditional 40-hour, 9-5 workweek is considered to be “flexible.” We take that one step further. Daniel Coleman says that “scheduling and having time off when you need it” is a huge pro in working for OTR. You can choose which yards you go to as well, and mechanics working for OTR really appreciate this. These two attributes contribute to a lot of variety in each workday.
An estimated three million Americans work third shift (11 pm – 7 am). Four million employees work the evening shift, and even more work floating or erratic schedules that include night work. According to Blue Water Credit “one in five employees in the U.S. works nonstandard hours, like evening, night, or rotating shifts.” Studies, published by respected publications such as Science Daily and Forbes, have shown that employees with flexible work schedules feel better supported by their bosses and have greater job satisfaction. At On The Road Truck Repair, we hope all employees love their job.
According to Daniel, there is no “typical day” at OTR. However, there are certain things that are constant with the job, says DJ McQueen. “It’s always busy and fast moving, no matter what you’re doing.”
Usually, mechanics begin the day when they are
comfortable starting – anywhere from 8 am till noon – with the first course of
action being a talk with their boss about scheduling, and then going out and
getting oil and preparing the materials they need for the day.
But they don’t typically go to a yard until around 5:30 pm. So what does everyone do in between? One employee relates this time to the “5 – 9 part of office days” and spends the time with his son after school. Another employee says it’s the perfect time to get in a round of golf, shoot some clays, or work on his farm.
One of TJ Morris’ favorite aspect of the flexibility is the travel. In addition to different yards in various cities, he has had the opportunity to attend the Cotton Bowl and to witness Clemson win the 2019 CFP National Championship — because work took him in close proximity and he was able to work his schedule around these events.
After a fulfilling, restful, or family-focused day, they leave to go out and service trucks. See the article on night workingto explore some of the pros of working at night. Mechanics do things such as change oil filters, swap tires, and many different types of troubleshooting and fixing. Each day wraps up with paperwork. The best part is, they get to do it at the times that work best for them.
Check out the career opportunities at On The Road Truck Repair. Maybe you’d enjoy this type of typical work day, too.
Has the GPS ever steered you wrong? Do you worry about getting lost when you go to a new place? Have you ever counted on your GPS only to lose your data/cell connection? How do you prepare yourself to get where you need to be when it really counts?
Going in the Right Direction with GPS
We travel every day to get to the trucks that need our attention. Sometimes we know where we are going. You know, when you’ve been there before several times. But when it’s a new place – maybe “new to me” but not to the company – I don’t like to take chances. Especially since a lot of my driving is at night, it’s important to always have a clear understanding of my route.
Over the years, GPS units and directions have gotten a lot better. You may have heard stories about people following their GPS and not ending up where they expected. NPR reported about a woman who ended up in a lake in the early days of GPS use.
Now most of the time when there is a problem with your GPS
directions, it’s because you get stuck in a traffic jam or find a closed road –
or, more likely, you don’t have internet or cell service. I’ve found a few ways
to prevent this problem from ruining my day.
If you do find an error with your GPS results, you can report them to help other travelers in the future.
Paper Maps aka “Old School GPS”
Yes, they still exist. And you can get them for free if you have a AAA membership. You can also go online to a number sites, including AAA and Google maps to get directions and then print them out. Never hurts to have a backup plan.
Popular Mechanics encourages people to use paper maps for a number of reasons, not the least of which is being able to plot out your trip. You can always rely on their accuracy and the fact that they won’t lose connectivity.
I found a few navigation apps that are made for use offline. One of them is better if you need it for leisure travel. It’s called Maps Me and it has a lot of detail – including things to see while you’re traveling – so it’s worth a try. Why not use your trip to or from work to find a place to stop and visit on an off day or on your way home? Another good one is GPS Navigation which is much more similar to online navigation. When you download the app, you’ll be prompted to then download maps. Choose what you need, and off you go!
At On The Road Truck Repair, we provide very flexible schedules for our mechanics. Some enjoy working in the snow, and others don’t. This article is here to help you out with some tips for when you work in cold temperatures — from our very own mechanics.
In addition to our mechanics, another great resource is Workplace Safety North<sup>TM</sup>, an independent not-for-profit organization based in Northern Ontario, Canada, dedicated to preventing illnesses and injuries. When they talk about working in the winter, they stress four rules:
Keep an eye on each other
What Should I Wear When I Work in Cold Temperatures?
Believe it or not, thick layers don’t actually help
with the cold; they slow you down. Layers influences a mechanic’s ability to
service trucks to the best of their ability. Be sure to wear the right
type of clothing to do the job. Remember your hat, wear loose-fitting wool
layers, and one really good, warm coat, and you should be fine.
Be prepared for getting wet. That is the area in
which simple snow is much better than rain, according to TJ Morris. “If it’s
just snowing, your only problem is the cold; but if it’s raining, you’re in
trouble.” Keep a good water-resistant jacket in your truck (be sure it fits
over your warm coat) and don’t be afraid of rain boots.
Rain and sweat are why you should not wear cotton,
as it naturally pulls heat from your body, creating sweat. Sweat will make you
just as cold as rain. Good materials are:
Keep in mind that how you layer these fabrics makes
a difference, too. For example, most moisture wicking fabrics do a great job as
long as all of your layers are moisture wicking.
Does It Matter What I Consume When I Work in Cold Temperatures?
Cold air is dryer than warm air. Most of us know this much. But did you know that cold weather actually alters thirst sensation? This causes us to desire fewer fluids than in warm weather. This leads to dehydration.
If you don’t feel like drinking water, drink a warm, non-caffeinated drink, such as hot herbal or naturally caffeine-free tea, to help the body stay hydrated.
Drink often, even if you are not thirsty.
Remember that certain fluids dehydrate the body. These include alcohol, carbonated drinks, and caffeinated drinks, including energy drinks.
Monitor the color and amount of urine your body is producing. Your urine should be light yellow or clear. If it is darker, drink more water.
Familiarize yourself with other common symptoms of dehydration including fatigue, lightheadedness, and even irritability.
Your food intake is also important. DJ McQueen, a senior technician at On The Road Truck Repair, recommends eating 6-8 snacks, rather than two heavy meals during a work shift. “Eating smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day prevents you from becoming sluggish after eating,” DJ tells us. He also loves coming home to a good hot meal. Not only does it give him necessary calories to combat the day’s work, it also warms him up from the inside out. Oh, and don’t forget that cooking warms up the kitchen — and often the whole house!
Doesn’t Work Keep Me Active?
You might think this sounds easy: don’t slack off
on the job! Well, that certainly helps. And, as TJ told us earlier, the cold
can easily slow us down, even if we are dressed properly, staying hydrated, and
eating well. So what are some things to do on the job to make sure you aren’t
getting sluggish without realizing it?
Move Around. Be sure to get up and move in a different way than what your work requires. Walk around, jog in place, do some jumping jacks. Just be sure that you aren’t doing so much that you start to sweat. The point is to keep moving, not to create a situation that is counter-productive.
Set An Alarm. There has been a lot of publicity over the past several years that people who sit at work should get up and move around for two minutes out of every half hour. That’s good advice for working in the cold, too. Be sure to move around. You’ll be glad.
Take Warm Breaks. OSHA recommends at least one 10-minute break when the temperature is below -15 degrees every four hours. Matt Gardner, Environmental Health and Safety Manager, encourages these breaks to start much sooner, at least by 0 degrees.
When you work in cold temperatures, it is very important to make sure you keep that blood flowing?
Isn’t the Buddy System for Kids?
We all remember times in our childhoods when a parent, teacher, or some other authority figure would holler, “stick together!” Do you really think any of us has completely outgrown that? On The Road Truck Repair employees work in teams of two. And you should, too. In cold weather, this is even more important so that you can look out for each other. If something goes poorly, it’s best to have backup.
Matt says, “We can all benefit from understanding
the signs of hypothermia and frost bite. We are all capable of saving a life.”
If you see your workmate shivering uncontrollably, loose their coordination,
slur their speech, or if their breathing/heartbeat slows down considerably, take
action right away:
Seek a warm, dry area immediately
Remove any wet clothing
Give them a warm, sweetened beverage (still no alcohol or caffeine)
Hopefully you will never encounter a situation of hypothermia, but being prepared is always good. The Prepared has a great list of recommended items to keep in your truck at all times in case of an emergency, as well.
Do Frozen Parts Affect The Job?
No. Cold doesn’t affect the way you service a truck, although everything may move more slowly. This can be aggravating, but if you are keeping yourself warm, you’ll get through it.
Take care of your tools. Protecting them from the cold is just as important as protecting them from the rain. Be sure to have a good toolbox, and don’t take your tools from a cold environment and immediately use them in a warm environment (or vice versa) without giving them a chance to acclimate to the new climate. Click here for a list of recommended toolboxes from Best Truck Upgrades.
Work in Cold Temperatures at Night
When the sun goes down, typically so does the temperature. Since most of our work is done at night, it is even more important that we monitor all of these tips. We watch what we eat and drink, how much we move around, and definitely what we wear.
Take Time to Have Some Fun
No one ever said you can’t make a snow angel at the end of your shift or when you get home. Be sure to see the beauty in the change of seasons.
“Mechanics at OTR service a very wide variety of trucks,” says Daniel Coleman. “I need variety in my life, so I enjoy both the challenging and easy trucks.” Usually there are a couple different types of trucks on each yard. DJ McQueen told us, “last night I serviced 10 trucks; there were at least 4 different types.”
Some Trucks are Easy to Service
Everyone has a different opinion on which trucks
are the easiest to service, but they are all in agreement on one thing: the
fewer filters, the less trouble.
DJ decided that the easiest truck to service is
the 2016 Ford because they are very simple and fewer filters and less grease
fittings to change.
Daniel says that the easiest truck for him to
service is the new international 2-wheel trucks because filters are easy to
access and there isn’t much oil. TJ Morris went with the gasoline Chevy 3500
without many parts and no grease filling.
And There are Challenging Trucks
If you’re like DJ, though, who really loves a
challenge, you might be more interested in the more complicated trucks. He says
his most challenging is the Ford F500 series due to all the wires almost hiding
According to Daniel, any 6×6 truck is
challenging because “they are big and people drive them places where trucks
TJ says that the most challenging truck is a 6×6
with rock drill because of their double axels, which cause mechanics to spend extra
time working on them.
Josh Cable from Body Shop Business says, “You have to be a plumber, an electrician, a fabricator, a painter and a body guy, because there’s plumbing and wiring in these big trucks. It’s like working on a motor home. So you kind of have to be everything.” DJ says “don’t forget about being a computer tech, too.”
DJ’s true favorite engine, though, he attributes
to his heritage. His dad and grandpa were both Ford guys. He would love to
rebuild a Ford F550 6.7 liter engine Diesel sometime soon.
No matter what kind of truck you prefer to service, you will find a wide variety here at On The Road Truck Repair.
Be sure to check out our career page to learn about current opportunities to join us!
There is a lot of talk about people starting their own business based on a hobby. Jewelry making. Pottery. Sewing. Cabinet Building. Entrepreneur Magazine gives some great ideas on how to get started. But that’s not the only way to turn your hobby into a career. Your hobby and work can really help each other over time.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation.” But I’ll tell you this:
My Job Fuels My Hobby.
And I love it. A hobby provides pleasure. It provides a sense of accomplishment. It is a way to relax.
My hobby is fixing up cars. My work is preventative maintenance on big rigs. My hobby and work really do go hand-in-hand.
Every day I am challenged to ensure these big rigs are ready to hit the road in top performance condition and every day I walk away with ideas that will help with my next hobby project.
While I am at work, I get to practice my skills and even learn new ways of tackling challenges that come along. Those skills really make me excel in my hobby. It’s a great thing to work in this environment because I really do love my hobby and work. To do what you love at work and to be able to take home ideas for my hobby is like a dream come true.
Anything from a simple tail light fix to a complicated engine repair keeps me on top of my game. So you can see how these go together so well.
Do you want your job to help you excel in your hobby?
If you’re interested in learning more about how your hobby and skills can be used at work, check out the current job opening at On The Road Truck Repair.