A few months back, the heavens opened and Santa Clarita got a proper Old Testament drenching. I was driving West on Soledad Canyon Road. To my right, a parade of Southern California Edison trucks was parked. In the storm, repair crews were hustling, installing poles and reconnecting people’s electricity.
I have a pal whose son is a supervisor/aerialist for the power company. And, he’s married. That means there isn’t a point on a compass where grief does not visit. He gets helpful suggestions from management, labor, the public, his wife, kids and TV cable installers. With past winter’s flexing, my friend’s son and his crew worked 12-hour shifts, sometimes longer, day after day after day. Winds blew down lines and knocked over trees. Mudslides slimed homes. Businesses washed away. Exhaustion was a state of being.
Through Nature’s unplanned visits, people complained. Heck. My daughter complained. Years ago when she was 8, we returned to Scared o’ Bears Ranch to find a woman had swerved off the road near our dirt entrance and smashed into a power pole. It was the strangest sight. She had sheared the wooden pole off about 6 inches from the ground and another 7 feet was missing — from the middle. The rest just dangled from the wires down. My girl was looking forward to one show before bed and a card game. We had to skip TV and play cards by candlelight. She wouldn’t let it go.
“Couldn’t they DO something to this person?” she asked. “Like — put her in prison!?”
I sighed with pride. Ahhhh. That’s my girl. She’s going to grow up to be a vigilante…
Maybe I’m getting soft, but I love running water and toilets that flush. And cell phones. And natural gas and, if we ran out of that, unnatural gas. Electricity zaps microwaves so I can reheat a burrito. Cools down my hacienda during asphalt-melting heat waves. Recharges my iPhone. Electricity makes the filter work at my gym club swimming pool. It powers all those electric cars for the insufferable Democrat/Socialists, along with energizing their curling irons so male millennials with the pursed lips can get their man-buns to flip just so. Heavens. I’d burn a Democrat to keep the air conditioning at 62.
Those darn SCE guys in that Soledad rainstorm? It’s near impossible to sneak a sip of warm coffee in conditions like that. How many of us — ever — have to work in such unforgiving climates?
And people will carp about them.
An electric pal told me an unforgettable story. He was turning back on the juice in Beverly Hills during an epic storm. A world-famous celebrity — let’s just call her Barbara Streisand to protect her identity — sprinted from her mansion, screaming threats and profanities — at the very people working in foul conditions to help her.
So Cal Edison?
You’re a better man/woman/hockey puck than both I and Gunga Din combined.
I would’ve connected 50,000 volts to Babs’ bidet and secretly videoed the star’s next constitutional. Add music. Dance to it with primitive abandon at the Edison Christmas Ball. When it came to the part where the pop singer grabs the flush handle and her fingers arch heavenward, Babs lights up like Mrs. Frankenstein and hits the hard-to-reach R-ruptured-flat eight octaves above dog hearing, me and everyone on the Edison dance floor freezes, then shakes and utters, “DDDDDDDDDzzzzzzzzzzztttttttttt…!!!”
It’s a job where, if you make a mistake, you fry like bacon left in a skillet 42 hours too long.
Other professions have a wider margin of error. You’re working at Yum Yum Donuts. Usually, no one dies when you accidentally give someone a triple-bran muffin instead of a maple bar.
A l t h o u g h …
Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chew. Chew. Wide-eyed stare. Cough. The customer blurts out his final words of “…allergic to triple bran mu…” followed by a prolonged, 18-minute raspberry sound. Paramedics arrive. One is holding a 220-volt cord and politely asks: “Hey pal! Where can I plug in our Muffin Victim Corpse Removal Electric Spatula?”
And, with a smile and a nod, as we always like to say in the newspaper and doughnut business: “Over yonder…”
There are so few truly essential jobs in life. Trillions are spent on everything from video games to fake eyelashes, growing Brussels sprouts to Russian collusion investigations. Fortunes can be made on the frivolous.
But here in Santa Clarita, around the country, around the world, there are SoCal Edison workers, cops, firefighters, guys and gals who work for the gas company, water, communication, sewage and other must-have necessities who show up, suit up and keep civilization perfectly humming.
Appreciate the absolute heck out of them.
Some perfect spring day, that’s not going to stop me from pulling up next to a SoCal Edison work crew, rolling down my window and yelling: “I know a Spectrum cable guy in a wheelchair and a tight jock strap who can climb a pole faster than that . . . !!!”
John Boston is a local writer with 119 major awards, all of which were made with electricity.