August 17, 2017

My Days at O&G: Carol Zaleski

“My Days at O&G” profiles employees around the company working at unusual jobs every day

It takes a particular temperament to be a utility player. Foremost, you have to thrive being moved from position to position to do whatever is needed, whenever the call comes in.
Carol Zaleski has that temperament. Talk with her and you will quickly understand why she is relied upon to fill the gaps and do whatever is needed.
“Am I flexible? I have to be. Sometimes I’m assigned days for a few weeks, and then go back to nights then back to days. Some people need regularity but I don’t mind change. I like the change.” And it’s not just changes in times of day. It’s the variety of jobs she likes. It keeps her energized.
She remembers it was almost immediately after being hired in 2000 as a flagger for a road job that she found herself shuffled between different postings here and there and back again, asked to cover, fill in and learn new things. She’s been a laborer, she has been a dispatcher, she has operated a scale house.
Sitting at “her” computer and phone at South Main, in one of her stints covering dispatcher Mike Ciarlo’s seat for a week, she explains how she came to bring Mike up to speed on the job. “They needed someone to fill in so I leaned dispatching. I did that for three months until they hired Mike. When Mike started I showed him what I knew and he’s run with it. He’s a natural.”
Carol’s work days in dispatch are long ones, from 6 to 5. And they are busy. Different challenges pop up daily as she makes arrangements to get equipment and men where General Superintendent Leo Nardi needs them to be. She also arranges proper DOT permitting that gets the trucks over highways and bridges (“The drivers help, they know the best routes!”). She’s there to do her part to make it all work to his plan.
She is mostly posted to scale houses where trucks entering and leaving O&G’s plants are weighed. She has no qualms being shifted to overnights at scale houses. It is a fact of life during paving season when much of the work is done at night. Being a hobby farmer, that frees her days to tend her small Highland cattle herd. She and her husband, Frank also have a sizable garden and a flock of chickens that keeps growing, all of which needs care on top of life’s normal responsibilities. “My husband and I need a plan. We have to downsize with the animals but we don’t,” she laughs.
Of the scale houses she says, “You’ve got to know how to work with all the drivers,” she laughs. “I like people, I do. I’d rather be moving, interacting with people than sitting in one place all day.” Her job is important to keeping account of product going out and keeping jobs and customers moving. “You weigh the trucks in and out. It usually goes smoothly. Sometimes you’ll have issues but what I do is straightforward. It’s the plant operator who’s doing all the work.” She does field phone calls from the workers on jobs that run overnight but not at the sameĀ fast pace as calls during the day.
Growing up on a farm she’s also no stranger to hard work and fixing things that break. When it’s a rainy day she will help with maintenance chores at the plants. “When we have a rain-out I get involved. I’m learning. I’m a good gopher,” she says with smile. “Sometimes I even turn wrenches,” adding an “I do!” as if to address the skeptical. Carol has never minded getting her hands dirty or being as helpful as she can, and that is the nature of being a “gal Friday,” to which she’s perfectly suited.