Uncle Mott

Mar 23, 2023 | Features, Uncle Mott

Mountain Musings with Uncle Mott

Wichita Lineman

I must warn you that I’m in a cranky mood today. Yes, cranky, and why you might ask am I cranky? I’ll tell you why, it’s because a dear, sweet 93-year-old neighbor of mine froze to death in her own home because the folks who provide electricity to our neighborhood, no matter how many times I’ve begged them in the past, refused to bury their powerlines underground like they are required to do in most other communities throughout Southern California.

You see, my neighbor, Dolly, lived in an all-electric-powered home and, when the two top-heavy power poles with all that fancy hardware on top of them got overloaded with snow and ice and snapped in half and the power went off for six straight days a few weeks ago, Dolly had no way to heat her home when the temperature outside was in the 20s and not much more than that inside her home. The Crestline Lineman shoulda’ been searchin’ for an overload.

I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main road, searchin’ in the sun for another overload. I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine, and the Wichita Lineman is still on the line. (“Wichita Lineman” – Glen Campbell – 1968)

And why, you ask, won’t the purveyors of power bury their powerlines? Oh, no we can’t do that, it would cost too much, they complained. OK, tell that to the folks in the Northern California town of Paradise, which burned to the ground in 2018 because one of their powerlines got smacked by a tree limb, snapped, hit the ground and ignited a blaze that destroyed 19,000 homes and killed 85 persons.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) ended up in bankruptcy after shelling out $25.5 billion for that little snafu. In retrospect, they would have been billions ahead had they buried their dang powerlines. By the way, the PG&E episode was the first time that a major utility company had been charged with homicide. No big deal, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just raised their rates to compensate for their loss.

Since there is now a precedent for charging a major utility with homicide, I would like to see our local authorities take on such a prosecution. No biggie, the power purveyors would likely appeal to the Public Utilities Commission and raise their rates, just like they are constantly doing. I think I need a vacation.

I know I need a small vacation, but it don’t look like rain and if it snows that stretch down south won’t ever stand the strain, and I need you more than want you and I want you for all time, and the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

Keep it flyin’,

Uncle Mott


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