Sacrifice and Selflessness on the Line - Carolina Country

Sacrifice and Selflessness on the Line

By Farris Leonard

farris leonardAs we approach Lineman Appreciation Day on April 10, the day we recognize lineworkers across this country, I can’t help but ask: Who are they? Most people know them only on the surface — what they see on the television, or when they pass by a crew on the side of the road. I know them in a different way, a personal way. For more than 20 years, I have been able to see them for who they are at a personal level — who they are on the inside.

Linemen are well-trained and highly skilled. It takes years to become a journeyman linemen. Those years are filled with classroom work, on-the-job training and self-guided education. A laptop is now a standard tool, and they are proficient with it. 

But work as a lineman also requires certain traits and a common temperament. First and foremost, they are unselfish. For most, a storm front blowing in after regular work hours means it’s time to head in. For a lineman, it means it’s time to go home, grab a quick bite to eat, and wait for the call. They watch their own lights flicker, they text other linemen across the system for a report. There have been many personal and family plans spoiled by weather or other untimely events that cause an outage, but our linemen are dedicated and always ready to go. I have seen linemen leave families on Christmas Eve because lights were out. I have seen a crew of linemen in the summer heat give a family in need all of the ice and cold water they had. I have seen a lineman’s bruised and bleeding feet, when all he wanted were some clean socks and foot pads for his boots. I have seen a lineman want to restore power to just one more house before going in after an 18-hour day. That house may have been yours.

Halifax Carl Greene 2016 26

Carl Greene, senior lineman with Halifax EMC

All linemen are dedicated. Being a lineman is not a Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 job. There are no routine days. Being out in the field presents opportunities for extra acts of kindness, and linemen oblige with helping hands. Like helping a member catch a horse on the loose. Or discovering and putting out a small fire in a garage. Or the time a lineman rescued an injured hunter from a tree stand. They will say it’s all in a day’s work.

So you see, a lineworker is more than a person who keeps your lights on. He or she is your neighbor, a volunteer at the local fire department. He coaches youth sports and buys the equipment that is needed when the league has budget shortfalls. She is there at a local fundraiser for an individual in need. They juggle their time and make the best of every moment because at any moment, the phone will ring, the pager will alert or they will just get that feeling that “lights are out” and members are in need. A lineman is more than who they are at work, and more than just the person who keeps the lights on. 

On Lineman Appreciation Day, remember our lineworkers, remember what you see them do. But also remember what you don’t see: The sacrifice, the selfless dedication, their concern for their fellow linemen, and most of all their hearts… they have big hearts.

About the Author

Farris Leonard is manager of Job Training & Safety Field Services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.

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