Tam and I did not see an IPL lineman maintaining streetlights last night; we won't say where it was and we haven't any photographs of it -- and here's why:
Hypothetically-- The streetlight out front of Roseholme Cottage -- actually, in front of a neighbor's place -- had been ailing: it wouldn't stay lit cycling through start-up only to flicker out and begin again, over and over. I'd meant to call Power & Light but someone must have beat me to it.
Tam, reading on the porch, tapped on the window last evening while I was finishing up my radish sandwich. When I looked out, she pointed to a big P&L boom truck parked next to the streetlight, jacks down. "He's going to fix the light."
I came outside to watch.
"It's just the one guy," Tam said.
"Yup. Power linemen are like Texas Rangers: one problem, one lineman. One night at work, I watched a guy swap out insulators on a 14.7 kV line on very tall poles, working from the ground with a 'hot stick.'"
"What if the boom falls over?" (Jokingly.)
"It won't. And nowadays, they're insulated; all the controls are hydraulic."
While we spoke, he'd ridden up, popped the photocell off the top of the light, lowered the bucket to open the diffuser, remove the old lamp, install a new one and raised the bucket slightly to plug in a new photocell (they have a twist-lock connection and a nice thick gasket to keep the weather out), holding his hand over the top until the new lamp came on, all with never a wasted motion. Tam was holding up her iPad, framing possible photos and the lineman watched her as he rode back towards the ground.
I gave him a smile and walked out to thank him. He'd parked the boom and raised the street side jack by the time I was at the sidewalk. As he came around the truck, he asked, "Are you trying to get me in trouble, taking my picture?"
"What? Oh, goodness no! Thanks for fixing the light. ...Why would you get in trouble?"
He grinned, "You'd be surprised. One of the guys took a dead animal off the line in a customer's back yard, a neighbor put a picture of it on Facebook and he got suspended for three days when the Company saw it."
"Well, we won't do that. --Hey, the light out back by the garage hasn't been going out during the day. It's just on all the time. Do I need to call that in?"
"Is that a light you pay for?"
"Yes, it is." (Seven bucks a month. "Private" streetlights are a heck of a deal and most Power & Light companies are happy to put them in, even along the street. If they don't have to set a pole, installation's cheap.) "Um, if it's not a problem to look at it....?"
"Naw, I'll just run back there next. There's an alley, right?"
"Yes. Thank you!"
"Just don't get me in trouble."
Again, hypothetically; I'm not saying he was ever there, we haven't any pictures and nobody can prove anything from what I've written.
But it's a heck of a thing when a guy can get in trouble for doing his job well.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago