Everyone has people that help them get through their apprenticeship.
Being an apprentice is like going on a long journey to reach a destination, which is the land of knowledge, the land of knowledge happens to be a Journeyman Lineman. On this journey, the apprentice will run into forks in the road. The Linemen on his crew are guides on how to reach that destination quickly and efficiently. Some apprentices take the Lineman’s advice and keep on the straight path which takes them directly to Journeyman Lineman. Some apprentices will not listen and venture onto the wrong path full of curves and hills. I had a hard head when I first started as an apprentice. I was cocky and thought I knew it all when first started. There were times when I got to the fork in the road and took the wrong path. But I had a Foreman never gave up on me. He always worked with me, but he wasn’t afraid to stick a boot up my ass when I needed it.
I just found out that this line foreman passed away. I was on his crew my whole apprenticeship. He taught me many lessons on the job. He also taught me lessons about life, he was Business agent for the union, large family and had 6 brothers. He loved people, he never met a stranger, and I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.
A couple of times a week the crew would go to this small bar after work. The bar was an old brick building, very small maybe 20 x 20. It’s was named after the man that owned it, Butler’s. They had the coldest beer anywhere in town. When you opened a beer it was so cold it had small ice chips in it. The only beer my foreman would drink was Old Milwaukee. He also would lite up a Pall Mall cigarette, the ones with no filter. My foreman knew everyone that walked in the door. We spent many hours in Butler’s not talking about linework but talking about life.
After many wrong turns I made the final destination, journeyman lineman. Ronald told me the day I made Journeyman, “Lineman are part of a brotherhood, from now until the day you die, every lineman is your brother”. So I guess I lost another brother, so long Ronald Koster and thanks for everything you taught me.
Everyone from that crew is now dead except for one person, Butler’s closed many years ago. The only thing that remains is the lines we built together, and the knowledge Ronald passed down to me. Riding around today and seeing some of the poles we set and the lines we built makes me smile and takes me back to the carefree days of my apprenticeship. Ronald, I wish I had seen you one more time before you passed so I could tell you thank you again. You took me from a young kid to a man and I will always be grateful for that.
“Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not express the views or opinions of my employer.”