Thursday, September 01, 2005

Can't You Smell That Smell?

Desk jobs are overrated. You sit at a computer screen all day, your eyesight goes bad staring at the monitor, your back feels stiff because you aren’t moving. Sometimes I watch people who do physical labor and think that it’s a better way to go. At least you get some exercise and if you’re lucky you get to work outdoors. Of course, wimp that I am, I only want to work outdoors on “nice” days.

Verizon peaked my interest this week with a posting I found for a job opening called “Splicing Technician.” Part of the job description reads as follows:

“Performing light digging. Using test equipment to check for gas in manholes. Locating buried underground cables and wire may be required. Reading and interpreting engineering plans and interacting with the Engineering Group. Wiping and unwiping solder joints.”

Now I have never done “splicing” but how tough can it be? And from what I read in the papers I don’t have to do it perfectly because nobody else at Verizon is doing that great of a job.

One Ronald Ledford of Columbia Maryland refused to let Verizon tear up his front yard. He’d probably heard about the residents in Leesburg who were “irked” by Verizon’s digging of trenches in their front yards. The Leesburg folks said it “looked like a bomb had hit” after Verizon was done and they were mighty concerned about the damage to trees from all the digging. Seems crews were operating off of “faulty maps” so they didn’t stay within the easements. Yep, Ledford of Columbia wasn’t going to let that happen under his watch.

So Verizon had to dig a trench through the public right of way adjoining Ledford’s property. It was after they moved on that Ledford smelled something funny and heard a “hissing sound.” A couple fire trucks and repair crews later the gas leak was stopped.

“Oh my God,” said Ledford “I could have had my own eternal flame out there.”

And that was not all; looks like the Verizon crews also cut electrical and cable lines in front of his house.

If I had been on the job I would have made sure I had plenty of black electrical tape on me to wrap those gas, electrical and cable lines, just like the Verizon guys did down in Fairfax City and Herndon Virginia. There’s nothing that you can’t fix with black electrical tape, it’s one of the great inventions of the last century!

I wonder what a gross of black electrical tape cost these days? You’d have to have a case or two handy when you are trenching, splicing, wiping and unwiping solder joints. According to Linda Foy of Baltimore Gas and Electric “There is an increase in the number of strikes (to gas lines) but the volume of work that Verizon is doing is unprecedented.”

Leford certainly knows that, he and his neighbors have been smelling gas up and down the street because at Verizon “We Never Stop Working for You.”

And it seems they just can’t work fast enough. Not only is there huge pressure to splice and dice, they have all those local franchises they have got to somehow figure out how to get around. A recent Precursor Bulletin seems to throw a wet-blanket on the idea that Section 621 (a)(1) of the Communications Act could provide relief to Verizon and its buddies for the “material acceleration of the Bells’ (VZ, SBC) timetable for getting franchises and entering the video market.” Precursor suggests that their only relief might be through the courts and even then that’s doubtful given “there is very little evidence of widespread intent among localities to impede Bell video entry, but rather efforts to streamline the process.”

Precursor says that 621 (a)(1) will have to be a “remedial measure for individual local abuses.”

Too bad 621 (a)(1) is silent on the issue of killing trees and endangering whole neighborhoods by puncturing gas lines.

I am much encouraged about my chances to get an outdoorsy job like that “Splicing Technician,” position. The part about detecting gas in manholes is a little scary and I certainly have no clue as to how you read and interpret engineering plans, but that “wiping and unwiping” solder joints is something I think I could do. Besides, I’ve always found black electrical tape to be mysterious and somewhat exciting.


Columbia Flyer August 25, 2005.
Washington Post June 30, 2005.
Loudoun Times Mirror February 15, 2005
Precursor Bulletin August 24, 2005.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: