Opinion: Work Truck Therapy

By Brian Crossman

One of the biggest days in an oilfield worker’s career is the day he or she gets their very own company truck. You never forget the first one. It might be a brand-new unit, 16 kilometres on the odometer, loaded right up with all the options.

Realistically it’s a well-used unit, and since it is in fact your first company ride, you will likely get a hand-me-down. And there is nothing wrong with that. If you have an older sibling, you’re already used to it. But it’s all good. You don’t care if your “new” ride has 320,000 kilometres on the clock, got a few dents, some rust, roughed up interior, and the box looks like Ragnar the Viking took his mace to it. It’s yours.

So you grab the Spray Nine, the Armor All, the glass cleaner and paper towel, and head to the car wash. You scrub that dirty ride and get all the mud and grime off and then a coat of wax. After about five hours of vacuuming, spraying, scrubbing, wiping, the ammonia burning in your eyes, and the “slick” vinyl protectant making it hard to hold your coffee cup, it’s done. Your sweet baby is looking like a new ride. At least to you. And your boss. If you think they don’t notice that, you’re not paying attention. Simple things like that will get you noticed. Probably get a big raise (not likely, but hey, who knows?). More on that later.

I was having a conversation just lately with my good friend Steve. He was telling me he was heading for the car wash to rinse his truck off. He had just gotten his ride re-painted and many of the small issues fixed up. So now it’s time to clean her up. Therapy. The very best of therapy to be sure. Very effective, therapeutic, inexpensive (maybe eight–ten bucks). Think back to the last time you washed your truck. How did you feel when you drove it away from the car wash? Don’t be bashful, you’re among friends here. It felt great, didn’t it? All that other stuff that was eating away at your pre-frontal lobes vanished. The bills, the problems, that earful you got from the boss, or the one you gave the new guy on your crew.

Brian Crossman’s truck, with 344,352 kilometres on the clock!

You just feel good. You are re-invigorated. A clean truck is a happy truck. You can’t even feel or hear that weak shock absorber on the right rear (now don’t worry, it’s back tomorrow). You get nods of approval from the drivers of the other freshly washed trucks, which you return in-kind. There is no real science to this, but it works. Every damn time. (Note to my psychologist daughter, I know you have some science to back this, don’t rain on my little clean-truck parade). Why do you think guys love to take their trucks through the mud? Because they are feeling a little sad. Probably had a bad day at work. Getting the truck really dirty isn’t what makes us happy. Ya’ll know where I’m going with this. It’s the trip to the car wash for that huge rush of endorphins to the brain to cure your blues. Well look at that, there is some science in there after all!

The unwritten rule in the oilpatch is, if you possess a company truck, you wash and clean it on “your own time”. This means after work, on your day off, or even on a stat holiday. Hey, the boss has trusted you with a company ride; it’s on you to take good care of it. This is also your chance to impress the boss. Speaking from my own experience, if you want to be on the right foot with the big guy (or gal) in the office, take good care of the damn truck. If you don’t think this doesn’t matter, think again. The boss may not run out the door to give you a big high five and a complimentary “Atta Boy”, but trust me on this, a good leader will notice.

Looking after your truck, or any equipment for that matter, shows your boss, your co-workers, and your customer just what kind of person you are. Leading by an excellent example will inspire your co-workers to do better. Your customer will give good feedback to your supervisor, and this will translate into better career opportunities going forward. Simple. Look at that. You went from feeling better with some “clean truck therapy” to greatly improving your chances for career advancement. No need to thank me. It’s what we do in the oilpatch. We help each other out. Now go wash that truck, trust me, your truck will look great and you’ll feel great.

Brian Crossman is a partner at Independent Well Servicing in Estevan, Saskatchewan. He just washed his truck, which undoubtedly caused the much-needed rain. Again, no need to thank him, he’s always happy to help.