So, I like open my eyes and someone has got Monday all over everything. Ew.
Worked in the wee small hours either last night or this morning, depending on which key you play it in.
Just as an exercise and bearing in mind that I was Miss Safety Officer and not of one the people doin' the scary stuff, imagine ("if you will," as Rod Serling said) that you have to work about nine hundred feet above ground, on a steel truss structure almost ten feet by ten feet. Imagine you can ride a tiny elevator to that height, at which point you must climb onto a narrow balcony-type platform and climb a conventional ladder up the outside of the truss for twenty feet and then the real fun begins: There is a platform atop the truss, which supports a pole about a foot in diameter and one hundred feet tall. You have to climb to the top of it. There are climbing pegs, but they seem to have been spaced for someone just under seven feet tall. To make matters worse, there is a gossamer-fine triple spiral of metal wire around the pole, through which you must reach to grab the pegs. The spiral of wire won't support your weight and must not be touched. Oh, yes, at two points, 33 and 66 feet up, there is a wide spot about four feet across; the pegs are a little longer there but you're climbing around an overhang.
All of this, mind you, lit only by the stars and the distant red lamps below.
Nowhere in this climb is there a place to rest and at no time do you have more than two points of contact. Once you arrive at the top, you are faced with an overhanging red light two feet across and nearly six feet tall, hinged in the center like a Ronson lighter, a huge light bulb in each half. It takes both hands to open it and replace the bulbs -- replacements you have carried all that way, dangling from your belt in a canvas bucket.
And on the distant horizon, lightning is flashing. Is it getting closer to you or farther away? You don't have time to watch.
Men head up to do that job standing tall and joking; they come back down a little quieter, with a tendency to smoke, sip coffee, stare off into the distance and sigh, "Damn, I'm glad we don't do that very often."
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
8 months ago