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: Phil L.
What's your relationship with your lineman? He's my Husband and my best friend.
Tell us about your lineman. How did you meet? Was he a lineman when you
met him? How did he get into the industry? What makes him tick?
Phil and I met when he worked for my friend's Dad, building custom homes. He was 19 and I was 17, but we didn't get together until many years later. He joined the SWLCAT apprenticeship program, through IBEW Local 66, after someone at the local lumber yard told him he should be a Lineman. What makes him tick? If you had asked me that years ago, my answer would have been adventure and adrenaline. But he's experienced a lot in his almost 20-year career and everything he does is for his Brothers. He even recently turned down a great job offer mostly because of his guys. Brotherhood means everything to him.
Did anyone in your or his family serve as a lineman (Is he a first generation lineman or were others in his family a lineman?)
He's a first generation, Journeyman Lineman. His Dad is an electrical engineer.
What are you most proud of about your guy working the way he does?
Safety and Brotherhood are his top priorities. He spent many years working all over the country and left behind a reputation that I'm proud of. If you've heard anything good or bad about Phil, it's because he's never been afraid to speak up when someone is doing something wrong or unsafe. As you can imagine, some people aren't fond of that kind of honesty. But that's what it takes to be your Brother's Keeper and I couldn't be more proud of him for that.
Are there things you wish you could change about the job?
His current job? No, not really. The job in general as a Lineman? I pray for the day that they aren't on the list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the country.
How have your lives changed to accommodate the job? Do you have unique
holiday traditions? Do you do anything special on the days your lineman is
Our lives have changed drastically to accommodate the job, over the years. We have lived in a fifth-wheel house, a thousand miles away from family. He's lived a thousand miles away from us and we only saw him every 6 weeks. He's taken a huge pay-cut to be able to settle down at home. We have canceled birthday parties and anniversaries for storm work. We even postponed Christmas a time or two. When the kids are really sad about missing Daddy, I'll have them draw pictures or Welcome Home signs for him. We set them out and leave them for the day he comes home. It's always a surprise.
How do you manage the crazy schedule and calls that make your lineman
I've learned to be flexible and patient (lots and lots of patience, lol) because every time plans are made, he'll probably get a phone call that changes them.
Does loving a lineman make YOUR life harder?
No. Adventurous, unique, and at times stressful, but not hard. Loving him has changed my life for the better in so many ways. For example, I wouldn't have founded the 501(c)3 National Sisterhood United for Journeymen Linemen if it weren't for him.
If you have children, do they look up to their lineman? Do they have hopes to
follow in his footsteps?
We have 2 boys and a girl. Our youngest, Brennen, wants to be either a Lineman or a Fireman. I see a lot of grey hair and sleepless nights in my future!
Are there any special ways you stay connected to your lineman while he is
working for long periods of time?
We do our bedtime prayers with him on the phone, as often as he can. FaceTime is the best invention! It makes a huge difference in our day if we can see his face, even if it's just for 2 minutes.
What are some things customers or employers have done to show their
Employers usually do something around the holidays, like a Christmas party. He's been shown great appreciation by customers during storm restoration. There's been anything from pizza delivered and hand-written thank you notes from kids, to restaurant owners opening their doors after hours and cooking just for them.
Tell your lineman's craziest storm/outage story
He once had to be pulled in a flat bottom boat, by a 4-wheeler, through a swamp, to get to the pole he had to climb. It was in the middle of the night and when they shined the spotlight down on the water, there were more snakes than you could count.
What was the longest storm duty streak that your lineman worked?
If memory serves, he was gone for around 6 weeks to work a hurricane that had hit Louisiana.
What crazy experiences have you had on the home front while your lineman was on duty (house flooded, car broke down, etc.)?
It never fails, something is going to break or go wrong every time he's out of town. While he worked Harvey and Irma, back-to-back, I had a list of 5 or 6 things that broke around the house. Last year, he was out of town when we had to evacuate and our house
What advice would you give someone who's thinking of loving a lineman?
Be understanding, but make sure he is too because you both will have struggles. Be flexible, truly without hard feelings, and communicate with friends and family that this is how it has to be. Be okay with lonely nights, but don't call yourself a single mother; it belittles what he does for you. Be prepared to be the strong one; he will need you to be strong on the days when you miss him the most. Most of all, be proud of and extremely grateful for this amazing life that only he can provide.