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Our Thoughts: Linemen never more appreciated, but they’re always needed
Our Thoughts - OPINON

Whether it’s a football game or a power company, the lineman is someone whose job you might not appreciate unless it’s a time of crisis.

In the ballgame, offensive linemen keep the defense at bay, allowing the quarterback time to get the ball to a receiver, or clearing a path for the running back to gain yardage. The “skill players” eat up yardage and, hopefully, score, getting their names in the paper. Linemen just work and most fans don’t pay attention unless something goes wrong.

When it comes to your power, the lineman toils almost in obscurity. Unless you see a bucket truck in front of your house with someone making repairs, you probably don’t think about this important job until the lights go out, as they did for many of us a couple of weeks ago.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sept. 10 — twice, actually — then roared north into Georgia. For the first time, metro Atlanta including Newton County was under a tropical storm warning.

Soaking rainfall coupled with sustained winds of around 30 mph — peaking at 46 mph in Conyers — made for widespread problems in the area. Numerous trees fell, leading to widespread power outages as early as the morning of Sept. 11.

A few people were fortunate enough never to lose power, and some of those who did got it back quickly. Those stories seemed not to be the rule.

Some people were out of power for days, and while most people seemed to accept their fate and make do, there was at least one notable exception.

In Covington on the night of Sept. 13, a lineman dared take a break — the horrors! — to get a fast-food meal. One resident took offense in maybe the most insidious way possible.

Well, the most insidious way imaginable would have been a homicide. This wasn’t murder, but it almost assuredly meets the legal definition of assault.

The lineman took his food back to the truck — you read that right; he wasn’t even eating in the Taco Bell, but grabbing a to-go meal — when a woman approached him and allegedly threw a soft drink in his face.

She supposedly told him “he shouldn’t be eating because her power was still out,” Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight told The News.

Knight correctly pronounced the incident as a symptom of a “self-centered and demanding” society.

But, thankfully, this act was isolated. Linemen in the cities of Covington and Oxford, Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corp., Walton EMC and Georgia Power Co. did their dead-level best to get the lights on quickly.

It took 655 hours of overtime for Covington city Electric Department employees to meet the challenge. For Walton EMC, workers had to encounter the most poles lost in the nearly 100-year history of the co-op.

This was an unprecedented challenge, and our linemen and others in the utilities that serve us met the task at hand. They deserve our thanks, not a drink to the face. We salute them, in Irma and every day.

Our Thoughts is the view of The Covington News’ editorial board, which includes Editor and Publisher David Clemons and News Editor Jackie Gutknecht.