The Roller Coaster we call Hitch

By: Taylor Greene

As we approach our last 3 hitches I can’t help but feel I have been on a long, yet short, fast, yet slow, roller coaster. From the day-to-day and throughout the whole season this pattern holds true.  

6:30 AM: I have just hopped on the roller coaster, strapping down my seatbelt. It is calm as I drink my coffee and prepare for the day. Much like the calm of heading up the first exciting drop off.

Now depending on the project, this phase is longer than others as you have a 40-minute or so commute to your work site. If you however are staying and working at the same site your first drops comes promptly at 8 am. This is when you must identify the tasks for the day but you are refreshed, happy, might I say, even excited, to get some work done. From about 8 am to 10:30 there is usually enough work to keep you from staring at your watch or becoming bothered by the small things.

At 10:30 it is imperative to take a snack break. At this point becoming “hangry” is a real danger. Having eaten around 7:30 it has been 3 hours now and group dynamics are at risk. When you resume work at 10:40 ish you have about another half hour of work before you feel lazy and begin counting the hours until lunch. Slow movements and a loss of motivation seem to hit around this time for some folks.

12:00 PM- LUNCH TIME! The almighty time to take a break, wipe off the sweat and re-analyze the tasks for the day. At this point your day old jambalaya is a welcomed treat that at any other time in your life you would reject completely.  

12:35 you are fueled and ready to get started. This is when group work may really start up. You have spent all morning preparing for the big move and now together you can move a large rock or large log into place. This goes well until about 2.

2:00-  Tiredness kicks in. Tired of working with others, lifting big things and trying to finagle something into the 1-inch too short hole you spent all morning digging. It’s hot and the black flies are constantly attacking your eyes/ears/mouth. Or possibly you are on hour 6 of bench cutting and chopping out roots and the idea of bending of one more time is repulsive.

2:30-4 THE WORST TIME OF DAY. For the reasoning listed above but now it’s been going on for longer and you had a small spat with a group member probably over something very small. You might snack as an attempt for an extra boost but alas, all hope to regain motivation has left.

4:00-5ish- The last hours of the work day where you are working at a slow yet steady pace counting the minutes till you can starting packing tools and exhale. Hopefully at this time your group has rekindled their love for each other and you can recap the emotional roller coaster of your day.

 Throughout the day you have ups and downs - I believed affected by the input of snacks. More snack breaks means happier workers. Happier workers mean more productivity. I also believe that an ample amount of solo work, if possible, can help ease the tension between team members.

Throughout an entire hitch this roller coaster repeats itself as days 1-3 are exciting and you work hard. Days 4-6 are humps days, much like the right before lunch spell where you are counting the days till you are done. This is when I recommend a special trip to bring back the energy – usually ice cream. Day 7 is like right after lunch where you have newfound motivation to work hard. Unfortunately days 8-9 bounce back into mental and physical tiredness as you count the hours, minutes, seconds left in each day. Finally, the few hours you work on day 10 are steady and determined but with an underlying feeling of relief that you are almost done.

Hitch season is not yet through so I cannot fully analyze the roller coaster for the whole season. I can see the underlying correlation with the daily and weekly rides. These upcoming ones may seem to be the struggle right after lunch. Knowing this lets hope we all keep reminding ourselves each day how lucky we are. I would take a day out on the trail with bugs and hard work over sitting in an office any day!