Holes, I dug them all as a lineman for the Illinois Bell Telephone Company.
I dug big ones – twice or even three times the size of a grave – so that two men could sit comfortably on stools on either side of the ends of two cables coming together to be spliced. The splicer and his helper would carefully peel back the outer shell of the cables and begin the process of pairing up wire to wire based on an elaborate color-coding scheme. A cable could be as small as 200 pair servicing one block of a development or it could be 2,000 pair or more of the hair thin copper wires.
I am not color blind; I can distinguish five separate and distinct colors thank you very much. There’s Pabst Blue, Green Stripe, Black Label and two shades of ketchup red: in the bottle and on my shirt. After that it’s all nuance in my opinion. Nevertheless, I was color-challenged enough not to be eligible for the splicing job. Not that it mattered. A splicer got paid a little more and didn’t have to work out in the elements, but their job was often confined to tiny areas like the bottom of a hole I’d just dug.
Splicers also tended to be a little milktoasty for my liking. They showed up for work in button-down shirts, low-cut polished shoes and 20-year-old lunch boxes with nary a dent.
They rarely swore.
The guys on the line crews were a different breed.
Some reported for work with the same t-shirt and jeans they wore the day or even week before, sometimes looking as if they’d slept in them as well. They wore mud-caked, shin high boots and swore liberally.
Hillbilly was my favorite. He came from some place “a fer piece up a holler” in rural Tennessee, and between curses he could be elegant with odd expressions usually containing a reference to an animal. “That mud is slicker than owl . . .\ he’d say