Tianna Mongold is an advanced crew leader (ACL) and special equipment operator (SEO) in the central Pennsylvania market. Employed with Flagger Force for two and a half years, she’s an expert operator of the truck mounted attenuator (TMA) with vast experience working highway jobs. Keep reading to learn more about this thoughtful leader and employee spotlight.
Flagger Force: Hi Tianna, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today! What made you interested in working for Flagger Force?
Tianna: Back in the early 2000’s, when it wasn’t open that long, I was first interested. I always thought Flagger Force owned the cars that follow oversized loads. I was like, “I want to do that,” but I never applied. One day I saw an ad in the paper and I was ready to leave my current job. I looked into it and said, “That sounds like a load of fun.” So, I thought I’d give it a try.
Flagger Force: How was your first week on the job?
Tianna: First day, I was nervous. Got to the site an hour early, I’m waiting, and the job lead tells me that the other crew member called off. Now it’s just me and the job lead. I didn’t know how to set up signs and I think I made some mistakes sending traffic—I felt sick to my stomach, but I learned. We finally got another person and I was able to calm down. I didn’t give up. I stayed with it. By the next day, I was fine.
Flagger Force: Wow, you were forged by fire. Now you’re an ACL. What’s it like?
Tianna: I love it. Every day there’s something different and that’s what I like most about it. I also enjoy being a role model and helping future SEOs and crew leaders as well as teaching the crew members about our jobs.
Flagger Force: They must appreciate your guidance. We hear that you have a lot of experience working highway jobs. Tell us more about that.
Tianna: A lot of preparation goes into it. I love doing highway jobs; it must be one of my favorite things to do. They’re more challenging than your regular setups. Due to the higher speeds, the setups could take a little bit longer. A lot of signs need to be used and everything has to be on point. Crews on the job are often bigger. It can range from about eight to ten people and it all depends because you need at least four TMAs if it’s a two-lane highway on both sides, as well as the right number of stakebodies. I remember one job had a crew of 19 people.
Flagger Force: Interesting! And are nighttime highway jobs different?
Tianna: Yes. As it gets later in the day, there’s not as much traffic and it’s not as stressful. It’s still the same long setups. We’ve had jobs with almost three miles worth of drums and it would take at least an hour to complete.
Flagger Force: Tell us about one of your more challenging days on the job.
Tianna: I honestly thought I was going to get hit on a highway job. I was blocking a lane and the oncoming car had to see me. I mean, I’m a half mile down the road in a big TMA with a giant arrow pointing and giving direction. The driver waited or didn’t react until the last minute; don’t know if they were on the phone but they just missed me by inches.
Flagger Force: Distracted driving is dangerous and we’re glad nothing happened to you. Can you share your experience from one of your best days on the job?
Tianna: It was on a road closure in Pittsburgh. The job type and location were blocking a bus stop. So the bus dropped off the
kids in front of the middle school that we were working at and one little girl couldn’t find her way home. She kept pacing the sidewalk. Two dogs were at either end and I guess she was afraid of dogs. I told my job lead, “I’m going to help her.” I walked over and explained to her that the dog will not come after her. And she was like, “How do you know?” I said, “If he was going to come after you, he would have as soon as you started walking.” Together we got past the dog and continued for about a block where I dropped her off at her house.
Flagger Force: That’s really sweet. How do you handle adjusting to field conditions?
Tianna: I just try to make sure I’m prepared at all times for the unexpected. I keep a rain suit in my truck. I’d like to get a second one just in case a new crew member doesn’t have anything. I mean, I try to help them out. I’ll give them something of mine because a lot of times they don’t come prepared and that’s the tough part. In wintertime I carry jackets, snow pants, hats, gloves—you name it, it’s probably in my truck.
Flagger Force: What’s one of your favorite things about your job?
Tianna: My favorite is being in the TMA. I’m just this little person sitting in that big truck and controlling traffic. It’s a totally different experience stopping traffic with a truck than using the slow-stop paddle.
Flagger Force: Absolutely. What is something you’re passionate about?
Tianna: I just like to help anybody that I can. I mean, there’s been a few times if I’m on the job and somebody doesn’t have water or food, or something happened with their debit card, I’d pay for their lunches. I always try to help out where I can. Especially when it comes to kids; I can’t say no!
MORE ABOUT TIANNA
Who do you admire most? My mother. She’s always been a hardworking woman. She’d go to work, coach our soccer teams, and get us where we needed to go. Sometimes she had to hold down two jobs, but she’s always there for her family. She’d give the shirt off her back if she had to.
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be? I’m a big Yankees fan, so if I could go back in history, I would love to meet Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Treat people like you want to be treated. I still give that advice to this day.
Can you describe yourself in one word? Humble. I mean, I care about a lot of things, including helping out where I can. You see all these people that are in need and if I can just give somebody something, then I’ll feel good.