Communicating has always been an important part of line work. There are a number of factors that affect this. Depending on where you were trained, who you
worked with, the personalities and egos involved, all contributed to the mix. Along with this, there is the road noise from trucks, cars and just everyday life. Maybe, this is one reason why linemen are so loud.
Another important element of communicating is knowing the audience…and to realize whether what you’re saying is… what they are hearing.
I can remember in the 70s it wasn't uncommon to see several linemen climbing during an open wire secondary transfer. At that time, we worked on three-man crews which usually consisted of a driver/ground-hand, linemen and a crew chief. On some occasions, the task of setting the pole and transferring the wire would involve two crews.
On one particular job, everything was being raised up for clearances on a junction pole. The crews, who were from different yards and included green ground-hands, were using two sets of three-sheave ½’rope blocks to dead-end the wire. The lineman would install the blocks and the ground-hands would operate them according to the orders given. Typical orders for this work were: take a break, meaning take up slack on the blocks; off and hold, meant to let off easy to check the sag on the line; all off, meant that tension was good and that phase was done.
The lineman calling the shots yelled down to the ground-hands, “take a break’. The guys on ground were confused and said, “What?” The lineman yelled down again, “take an F’ing break!” At that point, the guys on the ground, kind of looked at one another, dropped the fore lines, went to the truck and took a break.
Joe Spinetta – Journeyman Lineman - Retired