There is a slight possibility that my day was made just a little more pleasant, largely in part to the experience I had with one of our mobile mechanics. You see, the company I haul for happens to have a fleet of mobile trucks that are stationed at various dedicated customers and at each rail facility we ingate and outgate containers through. The help I received while having a "less than perfect" day from this particular mechanic helped me see the difference between a mechanic and a good mechanic.
I have always had certain places I go for mechanic work and know the crew there on a first name basis. When the equipment you are pulling is not yours however, you are kind of at the mercy of the carrier as to how and when it is going to be fixed. Usually, most carriers I have hauled for, would have to fit it into their busy workload and something as simple as a blown tire could add up to a couple hours of delay. To an owner operator time is definitely money!
As I arrived to the rail yard to pickup a loaded trailer that was supposed to be half of my last round-trip for the day, I could smell a familiar smell as I approached the container. There are a few distinct smells in our industry that mean trouble such as engine coolant, burning oil, and melting rubber. This time it was the latter of the three, melting rubber. From what I gather, the jockey driver must have just pulled this from the train car and parked it because the rubber smell was still in the air. Before I could even hook up to it, I did a walk-around inspection to see what might be the origin of that putrid smell. Pictured here is what I found...reminder it was parked like this for me to take.
After being told by the rail office that they could not "flip" it onto another chassis for me until it was fixed, I thought to myself "You're driver parked it like this and I have to fix it before you'll touch it?!?!" Common sense told me and should have told them, if I was going to fix it, I was taking off to go deliver because a flip would no longer be necessary! I went over to our chassis lot within the rail yard and flagged down one of our mobile mechanics who was working on red tagged chassis. He asked me to drag the chassis over (since the tire was stuck from the mudflap bracket being wedged in there) so that he could fit it into his workload. Great, that is one phrase every driver usually knows the outcome to...in other words "Hurry up and wait!" Much to my delight, no sooner did I set my brakes then he was already underneath with an air impact wrench removing the one-piece mudflap bracket.
In just under an hour he was able to remove and replace the mudflap bracket, repaint the new piece that "signature" orange color, and remove and replace the shredded inside tire. This all on top of the heavy workload of chassis he already had lined up. When someone drops what they are doing for me, knowing that my time as an owner-operator is important, it sets that experience apart from all the rest. I was not able to complete the second half of my final turn that day due to lack of hours, but made up enough time with his help to complete some other smaller assignments around the yard to still make my day profitable. A big pat on the back to him for a job well done and putting my needs to the forefront of his list!