One of my favorite things that marks the seasons in this part of the world is the transfer of boats to and from the harbor. My office is right on the main street of our little town, which happens to also be the only street leading down to the Harbor. In spring the boats are heading north toward the lake in anticipation of a summer’s worth of memories. In the fall, boats make their journey south against a backdrop of brilliantly colored leaves and clear-blue sky that belies the icy cold and mounding snow to come. It’s all very picturesque except for one thing: the guy who holds up the power lines with a stick.
You heard me. He holds up the power lines. With. a. STICK.
A year or two ago there was a big to-do when one of the larger boats nicked the overhead power lines that cross Whittaker Street. The lines were pulled down, a power pole went tilty and power was out for an afternoon to a handful of houses immediately surrounding the scene of the incident. Since then the bigger boats travel with a guy riding in the top-most level carrying a device that does not conduct electrical current and using it to lift up the power lines as they pass underneath. I’ve seen a push broom, a broom that’s used for scrubbing boats and, today, a very large stick with a fork on the end. An actual stick, like from a tree. Although in some respects maybe that’s the safest option because I’ve never seen a broom that doesn’t have at least a little metal on it. At least with a stick there’s no chance the stick will slip and that metal will accidentally touch the power line.
Still. This has to be one of the worst jobs in town. On the one hand, it seems kind of fun to ride through downtown on top of a boat. But on the other hand, one slip and you could die. I’m pretty sure these guys are not being paid for this level of risk.
For my money, I’d rather be the guy who sits on the back of the truck that goes around sucking up leaves.