The line life is a roller coaster. For thrill seekers like me, that roller coaster has made for one helluva life, for some, it was to much and they decided to take another route.
Either way, here’s a list of things some wished they’d known about before jumping in…
1. It’s unpredictable.
It’s not uncommon for linemen to miss holidays, anniversaries or birthdays. It should also come as no surprise when they’re called out in the middle of family activities. If a storm is brewing in the Pacific, a tornado hits in the midwest, a mysterious wind storm takes out 5 million in 24 hours or a fire burns a quarter million acres, a lineman will be heading out the door.
2. It’s Family.
The men and women in this trade depend on one another to get through the danger and unpredictability. The first linewife support group popped up in 2008, and many have formed since, as a result of the need to surround yourself with like-minded people who understand what this life is like. You’ll find that people outside of this trade just don’t understand.
3. They’re Unsung First Responders.
Not a single person in the United States can survive without power, or so we are led to believe by the instant complaints on social media the second their power goes out. Despite the fact that linemen keep the juice flowing, they have yet to receive the respect or security granted to declared first responders.
4. People are Assholes.
Those people that we mentioned above also hit every news and company page to complain about guys sleeping, eating and just about any other action that takes them off the pole or out of the bucket. Doesn’t matter if they’ve just worked 36 straight and need to get some grub. If they’re seen at the pancake house, they’re going to get crap from the public, pictures taken and posted… etc.
Any firemen or policemen doing the same get patted on the back and told how much they’re appreciated.
5. No One Will Understand.
Your family and friends aren’t going to get it. They won’t understand when you show up at events solo. They won’t understand why you take four kids to a movie by yourself, eat dinner before he gets home and get mad when they complain about being out of power for 3 hours.
6. You’ll Have to Learn to Do It Alone.
Speaking about doing it alone. You’ll have to figure it out. There are few linemen out there who can make it to every event, family function and play date. Those first few times out will feel a little rough, but you’ll get the hang of it.
7. There’s no Such Thing As Routine.
And the minute you think you’ve gotten the hang of it, there will be a change up come out of left field. We’ve had Christmas on the 23rd because a storm was coming, birthdays alone and anniversary flowers that were ordered by a sleepy lineman five states away.
8. Feast, Famine, Feast, Feast, Famine.
We’ve watched many line families get use to a 60+ hour a week pay check struggle when they go back down to a normal 40. Storms tend to come in cycles and pay checks aren’t always the same. Learn to live on the 40 so you can maintain some level of normalcy if there’s a famine like in 2005 when many linemen were laid off.
9. The U’s and the I’s.
There’s always chatter about union and non-union. Ask your lineman if you don’t understand why there’s so much back and forth on this topic.
10. People Die.
The hardest part, in my opinion, is losing people you know. Even if you don’t lose them to the trade, these guys become family because of the unique working relationship they build and losing any of them is harder than you can ever imagine.
Knowing these things will help you be better prepared. There are people right there with you, no matter the storm, the fb thread of haters, the family members who don’t understand, the kiddos that cry because daddy hasn’t been home in a week – you’ll make it.