It was a Friday afternoon; our crews were working in an area of the division that was previously marsh land. We were installing poles for a feeder upgrade. The last
job of the day was to install a 45-foot L-junction pole in a location that was set back off the road in the remaining fringes of the sandy marsh.
The digging here was not going to be easy. For every foot that the auger went down, it seemed like three feet of sand and bog collapsed into the hole. At about three feet, the hole was a wet, slurry mix, followed shortly by moving water. In anticipation of the type of digging that we might encounter, we had brought along steel casings with us. The hole was now approximately ten feet across with an apparent underground stream running through it, so hand digging was no longer an option.
The day was growing short and the foreman, a friendly but very nervous veteran lineman, came over to see what was taking so long. He looked over at the pole, still on the dinky; then at the ever-expanding hole which was still not quite four feet deep and now had a swift current flowing through it.
You could see his level of anxiety rising. He looked around at all of us and told us to get one of the casings. When it was brought over, he grabbed it and trying to aim it, tossed into the slurry mess. Unfortunately, it landed, teetered and fell over. It lay there in the flowing stream for a moment and then, with a weird sucking type of sound… and the casing disappeared. Gone!
We all looked at one another in disbelief. The foreman grabbed a hand tamper and started poking around for the steel casing. Several of us grabbed digging sets to help. It wasn’t long before he gave up and said, “Screw it, set the damn pole!” We all looked at him, the hole and one another again. With a collective shrug, we did as he said.
There was a lot of wood sticking out that hole…and we never did find that casing.
Terry Bellew – Lineman, Instructor, Writer