To Co-op Currents:
As a 30 year industrial and commercial IBEW journeyman electrician, I recently became aware of a dangerous situation with trees that had fallen and brought powerlines into the street. Trees had been coming down in this specific spot on a semi regular basis, nearly hitting a moving vehicle and regularly bringing down powerlines into the street.
When my neighbors began climbing over the 70 foot tree wrapped with powerlines in the dark rain to get to their end of the cul de sac, I became concerned for everyone’s safety. A down power line can never be trusted to be safe.
When I called WEC, Larry [Gilbert, Right-of-way Manager] quickly came out to assess the situation. He is a respectful, kind and intelligent man who not only took my concerns seriously, but he pointed out some other trees that were dangerous. He sent out a professional, respectful, safety-conscious, and hard-working crew in the icy snow at dawn, and they removed the dangerous trees quite impressively. They far exceeded my expectations.
Working around electrical lines 24/7 in all weather conditions is hard enough, but add cutting down precarious huge trees to that equation, and you all have my undying respect.
I know that your jobs are physically demanding, keeping us warm, safe and comfortable with our electrical conveniences through all types of weather, and often in the dark rain while the rest of us are sleeping soundly. I want you to know that you are truly appreciated.
Dear Men and Women of Washington Electric Cooperative who go out in all weathers to repair our power lines:
I want to tell you how much I admire you personally and feel indebted to you for restoring our service twice already this month, in the foulest and most hurtful weather. And for our sake turning your backs on your own Christmases at home, when it came to that.
My wife and I live on Hollister Hill Road in Marshfield, and have, exceptionally, already twice this month, and in the foulest weather, experienced total power outages lasting for days, that you duly repaired.
We’re old people, my wife and I; she 82 and lame, and me 98. We’re able people and manage very well in normal circumstances, but we were hard pressed by those two awful, extended outages, and the extreme weather that landed them on us.
I grumbled to my wife about how long it was taking for our power to be restored and made one scene on the telephone — to an answering service hired by our power company that was located, bewilderingly, in Tennessee, I think. A second time, my wife’s turn, it was Texas who took our call.
But through it all I was aware of a body of men and, I think, some women, struggling in the woods that predominate around here, and exposed to the freak gale winds of the first outage, and the bitter cold of the second one, and the cold and dark … stuck to their jobs … which was to return light and heat and water circulation to all the households who get your services.
We shivered at home, my wife and I, and felt miserable as our little circle of civilization crumbled away. But that was in the security of four known walls, and without fear of electrocution from dangling wires out in the field, or being knocked hard by a falling tree limb.
I don’t know any of your faces, but I feel brightened by the knowledge that we share a common humanity that sometimes entails painful service (yours) to a total stranger (me).
That was me, twice, for extended days just this month.
I thank you very much now, from the comfort and security of my restored home.
Jules Rabin’s Members Write was first published as a commentary in VTDigger.org on Dec. 28, 2022.