@Zeus_Hawaii please share your story with us. Why/how did you get into linework?
Before I entered the blue collar world, I was a student-athlete. I attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. I completed my sophomore year, and returned home to Hawaii. I did not want to serve a five year commitment in the military. I continued my education in Hawaii where I studied engineering. I had two semesters left to completion when I received a job offer to work as an electrician in the ibew 1186. Constant layoffs led me to apply to Hawaiian Electric Company where I eventually was hired as a senior helper aka groundman. The start of my lineman career.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was definitely not a smooth road. The transition from “student” to “worker” was no easy task. There is a certain ethic in the work field that needs to be learned. I entered the work force at 20 years old. I had no idea what hard work meant or what hard work was. Simple things like taking the broom away from a senior was non-existent to me. Because of this, people marked me as a person with bad attitude, and I did have my fair share of haters. I did get gassed a lot throughout my apprenticeship, but it only made me better. When they say you need “thick-skin” if you plan on entering a career as a lineman, that is no overstatement. I’ll admit, I’ve had my fair share of confrontations with seniors. It is never worth it. My one bit of advice for the young men beginning their careers as lineman would be to just keep your mouth shut, and Your ears open. Listen to your seniors, and don’t have an answer for everything. Don’t make excuses, just take responsibility. Once, when I was a groundman, my crew leader gassed the hell out of me because I stripped a pole and forgot to strip off a little rusty strap. Job incomplete. He yelled, “if you cant finish shit like this now, then I don’t ever want you in my bucket!” At the time, I thought it was silly. Now, as a journeyman, I understand. When you’re up there working on high voltage lines, every little detail matters. One forgotten detail, or that one second you become complacent, will lead to death. One last thing, for my new guys, please do not feel the need to work unsafe to impress the men above you. If you get hurt, remember, the job will still go on. The men that you were trying to impress will still be getting paid while you and your family are struggling financially.
Please tell us more about yourself.
I’m a young Journeyman Lineman. I’ve had 7 years in the trade now. The learning never stops! In Hawaii, we do both transmission and distribution work. There’s no one area that we really specialize in. What I’m known for is my photography and videos of line work. I guess that’s what separates me from the rest. The way I exemplify lineman pride is through my photos and videos. In Hawaii, no one really knows what a lineman is. However, in other parts of the country, linemen are very popular. Kids aspire to be linemen. The goal behind my instagram “zeus_hawaii” was to gain exposure for my linebrother’s in Hawaii. It has done nothing but good for us thus far. People get to see how we work in Hawaii, and we get to see how people work around the world. It’s a great learning tool.
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to lineman, in the industry or generally?
The biggest barrier for lineman today is safety culture. Safety shouldn’t be a “priority” it should be a core value. Lineman move from company to company. The safety culture is never the same. There have been too many fatalities across the nation, and it needs to stop. Take the extra 10 seconds to throw on that hose to protect yourself. Never compromise safety, to impress the people around you. This is where a lot of people fall victim to serious injury. Protect each other out there, and be your brothers keeper.