Dr. Steven Thomas knows all too well the struggles linemen go through while trying to restore power to thousands of residents without electricity.

Thomas worked as a lineman for Erath County Electric (now United Cooperative Services) for three years before becoming a chiropractor in Stephenville. He joined the company in 1980, just six months after graduating from high school. 

“I know exactly what these guys have gone through and how much sleep they’ve lost,” Thomas said. “Good grief, weather makes no difference to these guys. They work through it all to get the job done.” 

Thomas contacted the E-T on Monday to share a poem he wrote in 2010 about his experience as a lineman. 

“It’s hard work and I have been thinking of them,” he said. 

 Why I became a doctor

 The call came at two in the morning

With Albert Pack on the end of the line

He said “I hope you aren’t sleeping

With this storm we’re already behind.”

 

Albert and I were on call for the week

And we hadn’t yet slept a full night.

When this bad thunderstorm rolled in from the West

It darkened many a light.

 

With lightning flashes and thunderous roars

We headed southwest out of town

With much ground to cover in this kind of storm

We must find a line that was down.

 

We’d disconnect taps and punch in the breaker

Then wait to see what it did.

If the breaker held tight we’d get all excited

We both would just grin like a kid.

 

But too many times a breaker would kick

We’d get back in the truck with the map.

We’d study the line then drive thru the storm

Trying to find the next tap.

 

We performed this procedure over and over

’Til the breaker would finally hold tight

With the trouble located we’d now get prepared

For the real work to start for the night.

 

We found a pole with the top of it gone

Lightning had blown it away.

The primary line hung down like a swing

The powerful wind made it sway.

 

The lightning was flashing the thunder was crashing

When Albert told me to tool up.

He said “while you’re climbing with it raining so hard

Don’t even try to look up.”

 

With the hand line attached and my hooks firmly strapped

With caution I start my ascent.

I thought to myself while climbing this pole

A lineman just can’t have much sense.

 

I’m at what’s left of the top of this pole

with the primary laid in my lap.

I’m boring a hole with an old brace and bit

And I jump with each loud thunder clap.

 

The ground chain’s attached to the neutral

The wind makes the primary flutter.

If lightening strikes anywhere on this line

I will melt like a hot stick of butter.

 

I’m breaking all rules I’ve learned since a child

About what is safe and what’s not.

I’m holding a line in a lightning storm

And I’m forty feet high at this spot.

 

I’m a lineman in training I’m learning the trade

While the journeyman works as a grunt.

Albert explains “it’s the way lineman learn”

I can’t believe that I fell for this stunt.

 

I know that I should have known better

‘Cause of something I heard PD say

After working long hours on an outage

He said something to Joe Smith this way.

 

“I got twenty-five hours in one day

and I know that sounds like a bunch

But Joe if you think back to Tuesday

You’ll remember I worked straight thru lunch.”

 

First class linemen know lots of tricks

And they think they’re really swell

Like tacking a trainees safety belt

To a pole with a handful of nails.

 

First class linemen are a prideful bunch

They bask in their own glory

Albert Pack was just like the rest

So I’ll get back telling my story

  

Albert sits in the truck with the window rolled up

Then he cracks it when I make a motion

When I ask him to send a tool up the pole

He complains and makes a commotion

 

He’s unsuccessfully tried to bring the hand line inside

And control it from within the truck

I laugh to myself looking down from my perch

When I see he’s not having much luck

 

I’m wet and I’m cold and I’m praying to God

That the lightning keeps missing me

I think of Julie asleep in our bed

‘Cause she’s got a nursing degree

 

She’s a graduate nurse not yet an RN

But earning much more than I do

So when I come down the pole I tell Albert Pack

I’m thinking of going to school

 

I continue to climb for the summer

That fall my hooks go the locker

Several kids later and years of hard study

I finally graduate as a doctor.

 

I still miss line work in good weather

Overall I’m still very glad

That I chose the profession I’ve chosen

When the weather is nasty and bad.