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Life on the Line - Tonga Edition

 

While the money is good for a lineman, the work is hard, they miss out on family functions and holidays, and their families sacrifice right along with them. We at J.L. Matthews want to honor the entire home-based crew behind the lineman - wives, girlfriends, parents, children... anyone who loves a lineman. 

 

Tell us your story and we may contact you to feature it on our website and social media channels!

 

Lineman's Name:

Katieli Manatu Kihe Moui Mahe

A Little About Katieli~

We recently received an email from his wife, Akanesi Mahe, gushing about her husband and how thankful she is of him for the daily fight of being a Lineman. You see, they are from a town called Houmakelikao Nuku'alofa, which is the capital of a small island called Tonga. Tonga is a remote island in between Australia and New Zealand in Oceania! Now you can imagine our surprise when getting this email! Thank you Akanesi for opening our eyes to the world around us.

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Tell us about your lineman. How did you meet?

I met him at church. One of my cousins had a crush on him and at the time, I hadn't met him. One day after school, I went to church and attended the Youth Practice. After the program, I went to the bathroom and on my way there, I had a sense that someone was watching me. I turned around to see who it was and that is when I saw him, his brother and his ex girlfriend. I was 16 and he was 20- he was already a Lineman when I met him.
Has anyone else in the family been a lineman or was he first generation?

He was the first generation!

What are you most proud of about your lineman?

I am so proud of him because he is the most humbling person ever. He makes time for me and the kids. He doesn't go out drinking or smoking- he comes straight home after work because him is the number 1 place he wants to be. It always makes me cry just thinking about it. I am a proud wife for having him, I am proud for who he is and the job that he has. 
Are there things you wish you could change about the job?

No, because I know he loves what he does. To change any aspect of it, changes what he loves and I support him. 

How have your lives changed to accommodate the job? Do you have unique holiday traditions? Do you do anything special on the days that your Lineman is home?

Well, when he is home, we usually just spend the day together and catch up on everything that was missed. We plan holidays if he feels like it. Usually, we do have holidays for him and the kids but I want him to rest in bed all day because work can be tiring. 
How do you manage the crazy schedule and calls that make your lineman drop everything? 

Oh boy! The crazy schedule and calls sometimes get annoying and I want to scream to be honest. I ask him, "Do you know how to say No?" Yup, I'm that wife lol But he can't stay and ultimately I know that. We remain on good terms and I support him. I have learned to respect and deal with it because it's a part of the job. I know I am his world and our kids are too. That's all that matters. 
Does loving your lineman make YOUR life harder?

No, I don't think so. To me, loving a lineman was the best thing I ever did and choose to do. 
If you have children, do they look up to their lineman? Do they have hopes to follow in his footsteps? 
We have 2 daughters- 12 and 11- and 2 boys- 2 and 1. My eldest is on my husbands tail all day and my 2 year old is always so excited to wear his boots and belts. He also wears his helmet and wants to ride in the van whenever he can. My boys are a little young but I can imagine they have hopes to be like Daddy one day. 
Are there any special ways you stay connected to your lineman while he working for long periods of time? 
I used to bother him a lot with text messages and phone calls when he is gone for long hours or for weeks. But now, I have learned to deal with it and accept the fact he is gone. Now I just call him occasionally to remind him that I love him and send a text or two to remind him to be safe. 
What are some things customers or employers have done to show their appreciation? 
They mainly just give him food and something to drink. I can think back to a couple of times where he got money- which is always nice. 
Tell your lineman's craziest storm/ outage story!
One time, they were having a power shutdown and he was told he is the one to work the pole- which is basically on the side the wire is on. So basically he was working on a live wire at 11000v but he was only 600mm away. 
What was the longest storm duty streak that your lineman worked? 
It was 3 weeks long! The only time he was able to stop working was when his clothes were wet and he had to change. 
What crazy experiences have you had on the home front while your lineman was on duty (house flooded, car broke down, etc.)?
Well one time, it was the night of the storm and he was out unexpectedly because of those calls. I thought it was going to be a quick trip but it wasn't. While he was gone, we had to prep the house for the storm. I kept calling him and waiting for him to return but he was busy working. The storm broke a window and the rain and wind was coming into the home. I changed my clothes and went outside to hammer some plywood and other things to fix it. I remember climbing to reach the windows and I fell on my back in the mud. It was funny because it was just me at home and our two daughters were watching. I had to find another way to get to our roof and the windows because obviously that other way didn't work out. By the time I was done, the rain had stopped! My husband came home the next morning and laughed when I told him the story. 
What advice would you give someone who's thinking of loving a lineman? 
Well, if you're thinking about loving a lineman- remember that it takes a lot of patience, love and requires you to be flexible. Be there when he needs you and be strong when thinks get out of hand. 

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Thank you again for participating in our Life on the Line feature. For all those reading, if you or someone you know is a lineman/ woman and you want to tell us a little bit about what your life is like working in the industry- click the link below!

Tell us your story and we may contact you to feature it on our website and social media channels!


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