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Tramping in Texas (Part Four)

The following day when we pulled into the show up, there was a familiar face standing in the parking lot. It was my first foreman, Phil. Turns out, the 1249 Apprentice Coordinator had called him and told him our story. Phil took us to the office where we signed up and were assigned to CW’s clipping crew.

While we were loading up the rigging and equipment, we came across the clipping ladder which was an aluminum house ladder with home-built rebar hooks bolted on the top. It also had a permanent dog leg in it from being run over, I guess.

Gary and I were discussing our options when Phil wandered over, looked, and told us we might want to make up safety tethers that would reach from the arm to the wire and just coon down the bells. So that’s what we did.

At the tower site, we all got out and started assembling the rigging and hardware. Superman told us to kick every hardware crate and listen for rattle snakes before opening it. And, that every crate has Scorpions in the bottom.

Now the white powder was starting to make sense.

Once we got the hardware and rigging sorted, CW told Big Jack and me to get the first climb. I got my body belt, positioning rope safety, and my tether on, picked up the hand line and headed for the tower. Big Jack jammed his Kleins into his back jeans pocket and heads for the tower leg, wearing cowboy boots. Not that it matters after 50 feet or so I guess, but still, these were double circuit 230 KV structures, so we are up there. Further up than I’d be happy with no belt, wearing cowboy boots.

I pushed the white powder thoughts out of my head as I climbed by the first arm. Too late now. When we got to the top arm, I positioned my tether, hung the hand line, and followed big Jack down the bells. Once we were both on the wire, he told me that he’d set and run the hoist and I’d mark the wire, rig, and drop the traveler. By now I’m sitting on the bundle tethered to the arm. Big Jack’s on the other side of the insulator string in his cowboy boots standing there like a bird on the wire.

The guy could twist a fist full of armor rod on with no trouble. I got to where I could do three or, sometimes, four after a while but never like him. We worked our way down to the bottom phase and CW sent Gary up to do the other side with Big Jack. I clipped the statics and headed down to help Superman. So that was the routine, Big Jack did every climb and Gary and I swapped out. A couple times a week, CW would send Gary and I up together and have Big Jack set out.

After a few mornings watching the white powder ritual I asked Superman about it. He told me BC. Powdered aspirin. You buy it over the counter at the gas station.

 A few days in, CW asked us if everybody up north ate canned vegetables, and pickled relish for lunch every day.

  So, we told him our Arizona story. He and Big Jack had a laugh and lent us some cash. Then gave us hell for not speaking up. I told them we didn’t dare because of the daily white powder ritual.

Joe Rosenfeld - Lineman

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