The sight of a utility truck rolling into your neighborhood is one of the most welcomed sights after a storm, or an event that causes a power outage. The linemen you see scaling poles and making repairs are often working outdoors in the elements to ensure our members are safe and comfortable.
Working as a lineman requires teamwork, organization, and constant troubleshooting, not to mention a tolerance of heights and willingness to learn the lineman’s dictionary. It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in America, which is why each day involves putting on harnesses, hard hats, rubber gloves and heavy boots.
In addition to having the right safety gear, linemen need mental and physical strength on the job. They must be quick on their feet and up for climbing one pole after another. Make no mistake, this job leaves no room for error as one small slip can mean life or death.
So, what drives someone to do such dangerous work? We spoke with one of our crews to see exactly what keeps them motivated and focused when the job gets tough. This month we spotlight Journeyman Linemen, Andrew Hudson and Mike Murphy and Apprentice Lineman Bobby Thornsberry.
How did you become a lineman?
Andrew: I followed in my dad’s footsteps; he was a lineman. He helped me get hired on with Johnson County REMC in 2004.
Mike: I began my career at BCREMC in the member services department. I jumped at the opportunity when an apprentice spot opened.
Bobby: My career began at Duke Energy. I completed the testing with them, and gained valuable experience, and eventually found my home at BCREMC.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Mike: My favorite part of the job has always been working with our members.
Andrew: I enjoy helping others, so being able to restore power for the members is what I enjoy most.
Bobby: I really enjoy problem solving and being outdoors, so this job checks both boxes.
What’s the hardest part?
Andrew: Working in rubber gloves and sleeves in the heat of the summer is one of the more difficult parts of the job.
Mike: The hardest part of the job is call duty in the winter months, especially the 3 a.m. early morning calls.
Bobby: Working in harsh weather conditions is never an easy task. We want to make sure we are safe, but also get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What do you wish the customer understood about your job?
Mike: I would like them to know we make some sacrifices to keep the lights on and work diligently when doing so.
Andrew: Our job is dangerous, and we always do our best on every job.
Bobby: We are always working as fast as we can. We want to get the power back on for the member, as badly as they want it back on.
What advice would you give others looking at becoming a lineman?
Andrew:Try to get some experience at a lineman college. Many employers will look for this.
Mike: Make sure your family and friends understand the risks and lifestyle of the job.
Bobby: It is worth it. Don’t give up!
What has being a lineman taught you?
Mike: It has taught me a lot about myself, and how to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Andrew: The job requires a lot of patience. I’ve learned how to stay calm in difficult situations.
Bobby: Safety is always first!
Can you describe the culture of the line worker environment? Can you share with it’s like to be part of the team and what that means?
Andrew: We are a team. We all try and watch out for each other when we can.
Mike: It’s a simple brotherhood, bound by dedication and respect. It’s a family environment that is built on trust. Each lineman is a valued member of that team.
Bobby: We are a close group of friends that always have each other’s backs. No matter what.
What are the skills needed to perform in this line of work?
Mike: You need a strong back, a love of outdoors, a
love of people, and a need to serve others.
Andrew: You’ll need strong work ethic, the ability to stay focused, and be comfortable with heights to do this job.
Bobby: Problem solving, working with your hands, and quick thinking are just a couple skills you’ll need to get the job done.
What keeps you motivated coming to work each day? Aside from your crew, why do you enjoy this job? Why is it important? What does it mean to you?
Andrew: My family, being outside, and the sense of pride knowing I can do something not many people are capable of. Nobody would have electricity if it weren’t for linemen.
Mike: Serving members, being outside, and the sense of accomplishment are a few things that keep me motivated.
Bobby: Providing for my family and being able to safely go home to my family are my motivators. I enjoy being a lineman at BCREMC because it is a great job.
How has being a lineman brought you closer to your community?
Mike: Knowing who my neighbors are, and how truly dependent we are on each other gives that sense of closeness in the community.
Andrew: We are on the roads, communicating with our members daily.
Bobby: Being able to drive down the road and seeing the work I have done to help the community.
We appreciate all our line workers who live the “day in the life” every day. We sincerely thank you for tirelessly taking care of our members.