Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Pole Dancing With the Stars"

By Jerry Zezima

I may be happily married to the most beautiful woman on Earth (she’d be No. 1 on other planets, too), but it has always been on my bucket list to meet a pole dancer.

My wish came true when I made the acquaintance of Brandyn Phillips, a fully dressed guy who got into a bucket so he could install a new utility pole in my backyard.

“Your idea of a pole dancer has a whole different meaning,” said Brandyn, who was assisted by Robert Frederick Higgins III, known on the crew as Rob 1, and Robert Baldeo, aka Rob 2.

The terrific trio came over to replace an old pole on which was attached lines that provide power to homes throughout the neighborhood. The mission was to remove the lines and put them on the new pole, which had to be sunk in the corner of the yard before the old pole was removed.

“Can you dance?” I asked Brandyn.

“Yes,” he replied. “But I’d never do it in the bucket. And I’d keep my clothes on.”

“Nobody would want to see you without them,” said Rob 1. “The neighbors would call the cops.”

“He’d have to use the tips for bail money,” Rob 2 chimed in.

Rob 1 ranks ahead of Rob 2 because he has been on the job longer.

“You’re just a heartbeat away from being Rob 1,” I told Rob 2.

“I don’t like the sound of that!” said Rob 1.

Neither one had to risk his life by going up in the bucket — that’s Brandyn’s job. He became a friend in high places when he told me that his tallest order was being 350 feet in the air while working on wind turbines in Iowa, his home state.

“The highest I’ve ever worked on power lines is 180 feet,” said Brandyn, adding that the lines on the pole in my yard are a mere 29 feet up.

“I’m afraid of being any higher off the ground than the top of my head,” I told him.

Perhaps because my noggin is filled with air, I asked if I could go up in the bucket. Brandyn politely said no because of safety rules.

“If I fell out and landed on my head,” I said, “I wouldn’t get hurt.”

“I don’t doubt that,” said Brandyn, who did let me climb into the bucket, which was plastered with “Danger” signs. I found out why when I slipped while trying to lift one leg over the edge and almost qualified to be the lead singer for the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

When I finally got in, I saw all the tools that Brandyn uses to switch lines, which he did after the bucket — without me in it — was lifted to the top of the old pole by a huge vehicle with tank wheels and a boom that was operated from the ground by Rob 1.

“Can I drive it?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t get very far,” Rob 1 replied.

“I’m fat,” said Rob 2, who weighs 300 pounds, “and I can walk faster.”

But first, the 35-foot-tall new pole had to be driven six feet into the ground.

“If it fell on me,” I said, “I’d be six feet under.”

After Brandyn switched the lines, which carry 7,620 volts, the old pole had to be removed.

“If you want to be useful,” Rob 1 said, “grab a shovel and start digging.”

“I work dirt cheap,” I said.

At that moment, my beautiful wife, Sue, came outside and said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m helping out,” I responded.

“You’re bothering these guys,” she said.

“And he’s doing a damn good job,” Rob 2 assured her.

At least I didn’t get electrocuted, which would have prompted my final words: “That’s all, volts!”

But I did assist three great guys in keeping the power on in my neighborhood.

As I told Sue after they left, “Now I can take pole dancing off my bucket list.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

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