He was pumping gas in our yard the first time we met. I was still relatively new to the division and had never seen him before.
The lineman that I was working with introduced us and told me that he was one of the linemen in the department and that he was on a light duty assignment. Afterwards, my coworker gave me a quick rundown on him which left the impression that there was more to know. He seemed decent enough and I left it at that.
Several months later, he returned to full duty. As with most situations, you learn more as you go along. He was friendly, sometimes boisterous, brash and a true reflection of that era in Brooklyn. He was also a storyteller, which was a defining characteristic of his and he had plenty to share. It was up to the individual listening to determine which and how much of these were based on fact.
One of the great aspects of this profession is the people that you encounter. His presence was the epitome of this. He wasn’t a bad coworker. He was a hard worker – unfortunately, a lot of his hard work was not always to the benefit of the organization that paid his salary. Being partnered up with him, you were never sure whether you were going to laugh, scratch your head in wonder, shake your head in disbelief or bite your tongue. It was never boring though.
He could spin a yarn; his tales were the source of many a laugh – based more on their fallacy than their humor - over the years. It wasn’t just his stories though; the accounts of his career exploits also kept many a discussion lively.
There were times when his actions caused a lot of dissent among some of the guys. And the question would be, “How does anyone work with this guy…and why hasn’t he been fired?” The answer, “If we didn’t have guys like him around, this place would be boring!” Eventually, things would pass, everyone would be friends and laughing together.
He passed away recently. I haven't seen him in years. But the memories of him will live on…as will all the stories.