New Job

My general foreman and superintendent amazed me by honoring my request to rotate out of “the big job”. They could have easily laid me off or sent me to a different big job. I am now working for the Service Department of the same electrical shop. My job sites are more varied and at times, I feel like I’m in over my head. I miss my old crew fiercely. Read the rest of this entry »


That’s MAN’S Work!

He said it. He said it this morning and my crew immediately went quiet and looked at me with mouths and eyes wide open. “It’s man’s work that we are doing.” We might as well have ripped a vinyl record out from under its needle. In a split second, I had to decide how (or whether) to respond to my foreman’s comment. Read the rest of this entry »

In Case of Emergency, Please Contact…

Last month, my partner of 4 1/2 years let me know he was ready for us to break up. He told me while I was still half-asleep and in bed. It was a rare day off, and I’d been expecting a different trajectory to the day: one that might have brought rejuvenation and joy. We lived together for 2 1/2 years, and I was head-over-heels for him. He was ready, he said, to go find a partner with whom he could have children. This is the same man who thought taking care of a foster dog was too stressful; the same man who works a split shift from 10:30am until 11:30pm at a restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »

“The Talk”

Just because it’s the law doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Boys will be boys, right? (Wink, wink! Guffaw, guffaw!) In this male dominated world of skilled trades, I have mixed feelings about the sexual harassment training the IBEW foists upon its apprentices. As soon as the topic came up in our formal training, a tangible discomfort smothered the room. My class has four women and 22 men and all of a sudden, nobody was looking up or offering personal stories from the field. After some awkward silence, one guy shared experience from his military time: “Yeah, we had the one girl who was all loud. She was like one of the guys, ya know? And then she got a bad review, so right after that she made harassment charges and some of the guys got disciplined!”

Great. Thanks. What we’ve just learned through this guy’s tale (which was probably missing some facts) is that girls can twist the statute around into punitive measures, and that most allegations of sexual harassment are probably bogus or coming from somebody who is just “over-sensitive.” Read the rest of this entry »

Alpha Dog: The Power of Direct Communication

Today was a stellar day at the job site. I wired fluorescent lamps, then flicked the switch and saw light emanate from the new fixtures. This is the magical part of being an electrician! A glamorous achievement? Probably not; but magical, in my opinion: yes yes yes! It was a reminder of why I was drawn to this trade. For a first-term apprentice, this moment of satisfaction is a rare one.

My journeywoman was looking out for me. Despite her blustery, gruff exterior, she has always been gracious (in her own way) in looking out for me; and I wish I could figure out how to express my appreciation to her. Today, she pointed out the semi-protected panels I should avoid, then she barked me into a “non-live” work area away from the panels. Read the rest of this entry »