Some mean storms started to roll in off the Pacific and the rain wouldn’t let up. We were getting called out on storm restoration work. Back then we would often work 48hrs straight, then 7.5hrs of rest, and then back to 24hr shifts for as long as we could hold it together. It made for some great times & interesting stories. I’ll tell you; we were a hardened bunch of hands.
One day, as I was loading material in the yard, I got a phone call on a telephone in the job shack. It was our secretary at Northbay GC. She told me, “Mark, your house was just condemned by the Sonoma County fire department because the hill you live on starting to slide, you need to go home and move out of your house now!”
I was like “what the hell” are you serious? Rafael and I commuted in together, so he said, “I’ll drive you home and help you”. In fact, my whole crew took the rest of the day off and started driving to my place. When we finally started up the hill to my house, the road was lined with trucks and horse trailers. I recognized the trucks. It was a good portion of Northbay GC linemen. The secretary had told all of the company foremen what had happened. They gathered whatever crews were available and sent them to my house. There were probably 20-30 linemen and apprentices.
Wow, I was extremely humbled that my GC buddies had showed up to help. They even beat me to my house!
I walked inside and there was my wife directing everyone on where to go and what to pack.
I found my old foreman, Sean, in my bedroom. As soon as he saw me, he started smelling the sheets, just to get my reaction. Seeing him do that was no surprise and, strangely, I completely expected to see him do that. I just walked out of the room and left him too it.
I went into the kitchen and there was Gentle Ben, a massive man 6’7” 285lbs packing some of our crystal wine glasses. My wife said,” Ben, kinda scares me, he’s like a giant.” I laughed and said, “Don’t worry, he’s only scary if you make him upset”. I talked with all my friends and told them, thank you. The linemen told me to go get lots of pizza and beer. So, as an apprentice, I did what they requested.
These folks had my wife and all our belongings completely moved out and in storage in under 3.5 hours. And we were invited to live in another lineman’s home!
The next day, back to work. It was just another event, like a long wire pull or an all-night hit pole. We all went back to work. No one made a big deal about it. We all continued to help each other after work, pouring concrete, roofing houses and anything else thar needed doing within our NorthBay GC family.
I couldn’t tell you of any better crews that I worked with. We would, all, answer the call for each other at the drop of a hat. The only thing special about this story is the character of the linemen in it, they helped shape my character as a young lineman apprentice.
As GC line foreman, Tim Erman, would say “They are the Salt of the Earth”. This is one of the reasons why I say that I bleed GC.
None of these guys were perfect, certainly not me. I’m well marbled with flaws, like a wagyu steak.
Well, except maybe Ralf, he was fairly flawless and unusually handsome for a GC hand.
You know, now, I can’t seem to remember any of their shortcomings. In my mind, it’s just like Line Poetry.
Mark Groves - still GC line.