Hey Wichita, send some linemen

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

walked down to Highway 97 just to see what the utility workers were doing. As I watched the man in the bucket working with the tools of his trade, a song of long ago kept running through my mind.

The great American songwriter, Jimmy Webb, had written Glen Campbell’s first hit, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Campbell asked for a follow-up with another geographical aspect. Webb, then, wrote “Wichita Lineman.”

The song begins with “I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road, searching in the sun for another overload.” It’s a beautiful song and was a number one hit for the late Mr. Campbell. I thought, as the music carried my spirit along, that Wichita lineman wouldn’t have to search too long to find a job in Bainbridge!

People from all over the eastern seaboard of the nation have converged upon our area. An Asplundh tree service truck was in front of my house a few days after Hurricane Michael. The man in the cab was just getting started in his day’s work

“Where you from?” I asked.

“Ohio,” he replied. He continued to say that disaster work was all he did. “I just go from place to place. This is pretty bad.” You can say that again.

I preached an anniversary service for my home church over in Mitchell County this past Sunday. Many of the survivors of Michael were singing the praises of the Bluegrass state of Kentucky.

“They were the nicest people,” everyone said. I expect when one goes without electricity for a week, the team that restores the power would be considered very positively.

As I viewed the man in the bucket, I was impressed at just how difficult his job was. The old infrastructure had been completely demolished and he was taking great care in his restoration. I later spoke to him and told him how much strength was needed to lift those downed lines. And how painstakingly slow the work was.

“It’s like a cat licking a grindstone,” he said. I smiled. I had never heard that before.

A crew from Tampa came by and noticed my yard. A big oak had hit the house; just snapped off about twenty feet up. The rest of the tree would have to be taken down. He said he and his crew could do it and he gave me a price.

Insurance helps with getting trees off the structures, but doesn’t allow anything for yard clean-up. I balked at the price the man quoted. He came down some and I understood that the work was not going to be accomplished by me. As the old country song goes, “I’m too old to cut the mustard,” or in this case, too old to wield a chainsaw.

We agreed and his crew of five hit the ground running. Quite frankly, I have been amazed at how adept some of these men are with chainsaws. Big trees take a lot of chainsaw and manpower. I guess it was worth getting the work done.

My mother asked, “Have you got your yard cleaned up yet?”

“Almost, but you can’t see it,” I told her. She didn’t understand that the yards all over Bainbridge are hidden behind ten feet tall, temporary walls of limbs next to the street. You have to see it to believe it.

We still haven’t been connected to the outside world. In other words, there is still no cable television or internet service. But I’m not complaining. At least not too much. I’m still singing “I am a lineman for the county.” Wichita, send some more linemen!