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Tramping in Texas (Part Five - Conclusion)

They must have told Phil because he also spotted us some cash to cover us until payday. The crew stayed together for a few months, then CW and Big Jack drifted off and Phil took us over on his crew. Superman was our guy now, so he came with us.

The pay scale wasn’t the best, so by late winter we were getting short of help. The Contractor hired some local people off the street to help.

Phil had his off the street crew out ahead of us making up the bells and hardware for us to hang. It was going pretty well; they were happy for the work. Gary and I didn’t have to carry insulators anymore and got to climb every structure.

One day, Phil handed me his binoculars and said look down there and tell me what you see. After watching for a minute, I told him, I’m not sure about the guy off to the side on his hands and knees, but the other three seem to be standing around smoking, admiring a dead buzzard attached to the truck grill.

Yup, he said, that’s what I thought.  Go on down there and get them moving again. As I went down the right of way, I came to guy on his hands and knees first. He told me that sometimes under the cow turds you can find magic mushrooms. I did agree that that was good to know, but Phil wants you guys to finish up this site before we go in today.  He followed me over to the truck where the rest of the crew were still looking at the buzzard. I guess it flew into the tower and fell to the ground dead. So naturally, they tied him to the truck grill and smoked a joint in his honor. Out of respect, they had stuck a cigarette in its beak.

They were agreeable to Phil’s instructions and went back to work. I mentioned that they probably should leave the buzzard out there.

When I reported back. Phil told Superman, Gary, and I to double check everything, every time, before we went up the tower, which seemed like good advice to me.

As the weather broke, we decided to head North. We needed to start getting some distribution experience, to make our next pay jump.

Gary and I found our own separate ways back north. My girlfriend, Mary flew out and we took the long way home, visiting Carlsberg Caverns, The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, hiked some of the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff again, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas before turning east.

There was one final twist, and looking back it seems fitting.

We had stopped for gas just coming up from Colorado into Nebraska.

I told Mary I was going to get a cup of coffee and drive until I started to get tired while she slept in the back.

I went to the diner and wandered around admiring the Velvet Elvis paintings, waiting for my turn to be served. Didn’t take long until the waitress asks me, “what cha need, hon?” I told her, “Just a big cup of coffee.” She says,” Do ya want the trucker special?”  To which I answered, “yep, the biggest one you have.”  She gets me a large go cup of coffee and charges me three or four bucks which was a lot for coffee at the time, but I just paid and left. About a half hour down the road, I noticed that my arms were five feet long and my head was floating off my body. The lights on the side of the road seemed like long blurs as I went by. The poor old van was like a rocket ship hurtling through space. I drove all night into the next morning. When Mary woke up, she couldn’t believe how far we had come. It occurred to me that if I had filled my thermos, we’d have been home in no time.

One last point of business. I took $500.00 dollars out of the bank to get there and got back home with $550.00.

So, if you don’t count the damage to my van, I worked for four months for $50.00.

About the only thing I can say is, if I could, I would do it again tomorrow.

Who knows, maybe, with enough BC.

Joe Rosenfeld - Lineman


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