Allot had happened Since I last wrote anything here.
I’ll fill ya in next time.
In the meantime, I decided to go back to school.
I’m going for GIS And Geo-Spatial mapping. I wanna specialize In Disaster Response And Recovery.
I’m half way there with What I’ve learned so far. Might as well get a little more knowledge….
Anyway, I’m gonna keep it short today.. I’ll be back soon with all the details of the last years or so…
Until next time, Quit looking at your feet…
Several weeks ago I was asked by an old friend who owns a CATV Contracting Company if I would be willing to come to Tuscaloosa, AL and run the Disaster Recovery project there for him. Having been outta work for entirely too long and looking forward to working with a friend that I trust, I jumped on it.
Having worked storm damage in the past, I didn’t think too much of what I was about to see….
The extent of the damage here is Biblical…!!!
I went to Ground Zero 4 days after 9-11. While that was the most destruction that I have ever seen, in Tuscaloosa the destruction was equal to that of the World Trade Center Complex, only it goes for MILES..!!!
Having been a LineDawg for 25 years now, I’ve seen a shit-boat full of people come and go in my Beloved Industry. I’ve seen big, bad-asses turn a funny shade of gray only 4 feet off the ground and the greenest rookies run up a pole like they’ve been hookin for years.
If you’ve been doin this for at least 15 years, then you probably were trained by a wild-ass Ole LineDawg.
These are the men I learned from. The Ole Dawg who trained me, “Hooks” Whipple, is one such old Dawg. He wasn’t wild in the classic sense, but he took absolutely no shit..!!! Especially from me…!!!
Two days ago, I had to keep my mouth shut while a fat tub of shit yelled and screamed at me in front of the men I am charged with Supervising.
Ten short years ago I would have beat the fat ass off him. But, instead, I chose to save my job. I gave him 1 chance to get a little excersize with me and, of course, he did nothing.
The point of all this babbling is back when Linemen were MEN and worked instead of crying about having to work people like BoBo didn’t last long enough to fuck up a set-up… They got the shit kicked outta them then got run off…
Why the fuck is it nowadays if you “thin out the herd” do people call the fucking police…???
Where is the PRIDE…???
Where is the HEART…???
Where is the HONOR…???
If you can shed a little light on this, drop a line here…
Yep,I’m bitchin again….
Why is it that alot of very successful contractors are owned by dishonest shitheads…???
Believe me, I’ve been around long enough to know damn near every dirty trick there is to rip off a company.
And you can believe this too: I never have and I never will…!!!!!
I’d rather be fucking broke than sell my integrity out for a few bucks.
If ya dig that, cool…..If ya don’t, then fuck you…!!!
One day I looked up and noticed I had been on the road for 10 years.
ON THE ROAD…!!!
In motel rooms, bars and on telephone poles.
Not on the job, but on the road..!!
Wait a second….. Where did it go…??
I mean, the last 10 years..!! WHERE DID THEY GO…!!! I had ‘em not long ago… Seems like just a few months ago I put that rusty old set of Buckingham hooks on for the 1st time.
Where did the last 1/2 of my 20′s and 1st 1/2 of my 30′s disappear to…???
I know they’re here somewhere….
I got off the plane at 9pm. It was 108 degrees in Phoenix, AZ. At 9 at night…!!!
I remember thinking “don’t things die in this kinda heat..??”
But after a while I noticed all the living people walking around.
In the heat.
This absolutely, unbelievable, African Hot HEAT..!!!
Couldn’t be all that bad. Just HOT…!!!!
I love when people say: “Oh, it’s OK…It’s a dry heat.”
Yeah, so is a Pizza Oven. Ya don’t see me playing in one of them, do ya…..????
It took me 3 years to quit wincing every time I’d go outside in the Summer Heat…..
Actually, I grew fond of Phoenix. I really liked it here. It’s a pretty clean town. Especially where I lived when I 1st got here on the East Side in Gilbert. You can tell that there is money everywhere…
I like the desert anyway. Also, being an American history buff (and avid John Wayne fan) the Old Wild West in particular, sure made this a blast of a place to be. There’s loads of things to see and do.
Mountains & Canyons,
Lakes & Rivers,
The Grand Canyon,
Year-Round Riding weather,
Over 300 days per year of sunshine,
Girls don’t wear much…..
What the else do ya need…??
Besides, I can carry my .40 cal here and not have to worry about hiding it.
Now, I can carry it concealed. They made it legal to carry a weapon without a CCW. Arizona is now 1 of only 4 states to not require a CCW to carry a concealed weapon.
Harleys, Guns and year-round riding weather. Things a guy can use.
Gotta love the Wild, Wild West.
In ’96 I had nailed a job as a Construction Supervisor with InSight Cable in Gilbert, AZ. This was my 1st In-House job. Great gig, but too political. Not for me. I’ve gotta be outside where the Crews are.
I worked at InSight for about 6 months when Keith, the Construction Manager, resigned and went full-time with his Engineering and Design Company.
He was the guy that hired me as the new Construction Supervisor. My interview was, to this day, the coolest interview I’ve ever had. We talked about music, (we are both musicians) the Cable Industry and all kindsa stuff. Of course, we went over my qualifications, but for the most part, it was pretty laid back.
I was happy for Keith. If anyone was gonna make it big somehow, it would be Keith.
Not only does this guy know his business, but he is the most honest man I’ve ever met. A rare thing, indeed, in this business. But, I was bummed out too. He was pretty much my only real friend there at InSight. While we got alot done, we also laughed our asses off all day long.
Especially if we could mess with the GM, Dave…
When Keith left InSight, I also went on my own. I started doing alotta Field Engineering. As-Builts, Strand-Mapping, City Permits. Whatever. If it had to do with Utility Mapping of any kind, I could do it…..
In ’88 I was on a pole in a backwater by the name of Caliga Bay, AL. I was about 40 feet up when I turned around in my belt to pull up a gas drill to pump a hole in the pole for the hardware when my gut felt something was wrong.
For a split second I was unsure of what it was that was outta whack.
It became apparent in a big hurry..!!! The pole I was on started to fall backwards!
Of all the rotten luck, I was strapped to the damn thing. A quick thought was to just jump, land how-ever and deal with all the broken bones afterward.
What ended up happening was as the pole came down backwards, I just hopped upward and started to drop.
With a quickness…!!!
My safety was still around the pole and with the angle of the pole being to the back of me, I came down in about 6 or 8 big drops as my safety would catch & drop, catch & drop.
Which is about as lucky as you can get in that situation. I didn’t bounce off the pole. Had I bounced off the pole while falling, the splinters from gaff marks, shell-rot and just the wood itself would have shredded my stomach and chest.
I’ve heard some stories over the years about guys who’ve gotten long splinters up into their chests in such a situation…
The pole ended up landing on our truck. 72kv (for those who don’t know, that’s 72,000 volts!) laid across an ’80 something, Ford 1-Ton Flatbed…!!!
My groundhand, Chris, was literally running around in a little circle, screaming: “Oh My God!, Oh My God!.” When he stopped, he looked at me with eyes as big as Bart Simpson’s and said “Dave… I seen body parts everywhere!!!”
I started counting things.
I had 1 splinter in my left arm and a case of the shakes that would last about 8 months.
I didn’t pay for a beer or a shot at “The Wooden Nickle” for a week.
Afterward, there were close to 50 or 60 people at the site. The Power Company, Phone Company, Cops, Fire Department, Ambulances (2 of them!), all kindsa town folks, my whole company.
And they were all looking at me.
It was later that night before I calmed down a bit.
There was this one Power Company Supervisor who had to be close to 70 years old. He had white hair and hands, that when you shook one, you could tell that this man had worked since he 3 years old.
At well over 6′ he had a great presence.
He walked up to me with his hand out to shake mine and asked if I was the man who rode that pole down. My reply was “Yes sir.”
His next words still give me shivers: “I’ve seen ‘em go and I’ve heard the stories of them going, but I’ve never heard of a man walking away. You’re a lucky boy, son.”
Dodged ANOTHER bullet…!!!
Damn right, it’s good to be SuperDave…!!!
And it damn sure ain’t boring…
More to come…..
After leaving the Neighborhood I grew up in back in NYC in ’83 I found myself getting divorced from my 1st wife in SLC, UT.
My brother Mike, our friend Harlan, (who would later teach me to climb poles and travel together with me for years) and I were all living together. We were all getting divorced.
You shoulda heard some of the “Hate Women Campaigns” that went on after a few bottles of Jack and a couple cases of Bud…!!!
One day Harlan woke me up at like 5am on a Sunday. This was no easy task back then.
He came down a pole at about noon and said: “Cool. $400.00 by lunch.” I almost fell over.
“I wanna do THIS” I yelled at him. Two days later he threw an old rusty pair of Buckingham hooks at me and pointed at a pole across the street.
Later he looked at me and said I was a natural.
We would go on to spend the better part of the next 10 years on the road together.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Here’s to ya Harlan…!!!
The work suited me and my wanderlust. C’mon something like climbing telephone poles and making a grand a week was just what I needed. Besides, the CATV Industry was the only industry that would have me.
And they “Got It”… These people understood what it was like to wake up one morning and have this insatiable desire to lay some miles down.
And they never asked me to cut my hair!
Ok, so here I am; 25, newly divorced, pocket full of $$$, a good job and the whole USA in front of me. Life was GOOD..!! This was gonna be a blast….!!!
I’d really dug it. I loved the comradery that all the guys shared.
You’ve got my back, and I’ve got yours.
No matter what. At work, in a bar… “You’re broke..?? No worries.. I’ve got money.” I’m broke..?? “Thanx for the $100.00, cheeseburger and beer…. See me on payday….”
Whatever. Everyone looked out for everyone.
Just like it used to be back in the Neighborhood.
I love the road-trips, too….
This industry has gotten me all over the place. I’ve been to 45 of the 48 contiginous states. I also turned down Alaska and Hawaii in the same year.
Yeah, I know… Most people woulda gone, but it was winter….. that does away with climbing in Alaska… and I’m not an ocean person. So Hawaii didn’t mean anything to me….
When you’re on Cable jobs, everyone is from “Somewhere Else”. No one is from the town you’re working in at the time. So, ya hang out together… Bar-B-Ques, Bars, whatever….
The routine when ya get to a new town is:
1 – Find the Motel, (The one with all the Cable TV Construction vehicles in the parking lot)
2 – Find the Company shop, (The one with all the Cable TV Construction vehicles in the parking lot)
3 – Find the bank, (The one with all the Cable TV Construction vehicles in the parking lot)
4 – Find the Gin-Mill. (The one with all the Cable TV Construction vehicles in the parking lot)
After that, it’s all the same…. Climb, drink, chase skirts, sleep.
Sometimes there are other activities that kinda break up the monotony. I’ll let you figure out what they may be.
While I do really miss being a Hook, the work, the money, the road-trips, the comradery, something happened a while back that I wasn’t ready for.
More to come…..