Once upon a time...
When I got out of the Navy in 1978, I went to work at a machine shop like any good kid from Detroit - the same one my dad worked at for most of his life. There, I was introduced to the wonderful, greasy, oily world of an apprentice learning how to make nuts and bolts on screw machines. Oh, the times I had with a micrometer and caliper, learning how to sharpen drill bits, and sweeping floors in the middle of the night!
Well, it just wasn't for me, and I quit after a year, which really ticked my dad off. "What are you gonna do now?!!" he practically screamed. "I don't know yet dad - but not that." I'd seen what it did to the old men in the place, and I knew for sure that I didn't want to wake up someday and find that I was just like them.
I needed money though, so I was looking for anything other than a machine shop to fill in the blank space in my wallet until I could find something I really liked. And that's when it happened...
I started as a minimum wage warehouseman off the streets of River Rouge, Michigan (where I'm from) and was promptly dubbed "the house-mouse." Then one day one of the linemen didn't show up for work (probably got too drunk the night before) and I was sent out into the field to work with a trunk crew. I didn't have enough "ass" to pull the rope effectively, so they told me I had 1 last chance and threw a belt and hooks at me. For some reason, I was a natural-born wood-walker and went from apprentice lineman to "top hook" pretty fast.
I'd finally found what I was looking for. I was working out in the sunshine, climbing poles and hanging wire with a bunch of swell guys who were basically a bunch of long-haired modern cowboy outlaw renegades who seemed to border on insanity, especially on payday. I fit right in. I was making more money than any of the old guys back at the machine shop, and dad said it was good temporarily - till the construction ends, like all construction projects do (he built highways in the 50's) - then what? "I don't know dad - I'll figure that out when the time comes."
For the next few years, I hung strand, feeder and trunk, and eventually became the top hook on a 1" winch crew for AM Communications. That was back in their hey-day as a construction outfit, and man what a time we had in those pretty new blue flatbeds! When the job with AM was over, I bopped around Southeast Michigan from Toledo to Port Huron as a lineman wherever there was work going on.
This is me working on an art installation for friend David Burns in the mid 80's.
Electronics was always an interest and hobby of mine, so eventually I was naturally pulled towards splicing and activation of the Cable TV systems I'd been constructing, which I really loved to do. As much as I loved what I was doing as a lineman, I liked splicing even better.
Eventually, of course, the construction projects close to home in the Detroit area all got built, and dad said "now what?" So I took my construction, splicing and activation skills to Boston and learned to engineer, design and build high-rise MDU's and got my 1st taste of working in manholes and buildings. With that, I was officially "on the road", and from then on Detroit has been 'home-base' instead of 'home'.
My Life on the Road (so
It's a good thing I love to see new places, huh? I know you other cable dogs out there can relate to my gypsy-like travels!
I did some wreckout in Michigan and then Vermont for a few months, then around 1984 I went out to Oklahoma & worked my first upgrade splice job, which opened up a whole new kind of thinking about how to design on the fly to make the system work during the stage between what it was and what it will be. I compare it to turning a AM transistor radio into a CD player while keeping the music playing.
In 1986 I went to work for Wade Cablevision in Philly as a splicing inspector. Wade was a partnership of Cablevision Industries (out of Liberty, NY) and Jim Wade (political figure) of Philadelphia. They teamed up to build a large section of Philly's cable TV system, and hired Larry, Izzy, Wayne, Lenny and me to ensure that the contractor, CCG, gave them their money's worth. I found CCG to be a very reputable company, and the workmanship was excellent or immediately fixed.
That's how I got into the management side of things, and I've spent most of the years between then and now running construction projects or being part of the support team involved in running them.
In 1994, I crossed paths with CCG again, and this time I went to work for them. They treated me really great and I enjoyed working with them very much for several years. Eventually they were bought up by Dycom Industries along with several other construction firms, began the slide down corporate hill, then went off the cliff into oblivion when they finally sold off and/or destroyed all the construction assets they had and let go of all the employees, which was a pretty sad thing to see happen to a company I really liked so much.
In 2001 I went to work for Mastec, who'd also bought up a bunch of construction outfits. I took a year and a half off to fight cancer, then went back to work with them again as a regional manager upgrading the San Francisco Bay area in California over a few years' time.
After that, I worked with GTS for about a year in Phoenix where I designed, built and implemented a really impressive (if I do say so myself!) database to manage everything from material tracking to dailies to inoicing, then put in some time with Black & Veatch in Dallas, Lafayette, Iowa and Minnesota doing various engineering work with power stations.
Next, I worked as a field engineer/project manager/database guru for Atlantic Engineering Group, and really enjoyed my work with them.
I'm now retired from the business after 33 years, since my cancer returned with a vengence for the 3rd time and put me on permanent disability. That medical part of my life is detailed on my MediBuck Blog, in case you want to know more about that.
Okay... Let's have some fun! In my spare time, one of the things I like to do is make cartoons. Lots of times they're related to cable work, and are usually based on actual events. Just click the thumbnails below to see my Cable toons full-size. Feel free to print them out and share them if you like! Just give me credit as the artist and let others know where you got them, K ?
A couple of them fall under, "You had to be there..."