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Mark Twain once said that the two most important days in a man’s life are the day he’s born and the day he finds out why. For Apprentice Lineman Dusty Harris, the latter came less than a year ago when a chance encounter moved him into a conversation that reshaped his career path. “I was working on a crew digging wells, and we struck one of Duke Energy’s lines,” he explains. “Their linemen were called, and I got to talking with them about their job. When I went home that day, I decided it was worth pursuing.”
Inspired, Dusty enrolled in the Electrical Lineman Institute at Caldwell Community College, a four-month program that equips graduates for entry-level positions as power line technicians. “Caldwell was a great first step,” he says. “I learned the basics of climbing, tools, line identification—and finished second in my class.” As soon as he was certified, Dusty set out on a mission to find full-time work, “Because I knew on-the-job experience would be even more valuable,” he continues.
A few temp jobs later, including one that brought him to an epic ice storm in Baltimore, Dusty landed a contract position with EnergyUnited near Hickory. “For the first time, I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing,” he says. “It’s a career. And one that’s not for everyone. I loved it. Still do.”
From where Dusty was sitting, life couldn’t get any better, that is, until a lineman position opened in his hometown of Statesville. “I was a few months in. One guy left the co-op in Statesville, and I got the call. It was just perfect timing,” he reflects. “And to man the lines in a community I know like the back of my hand? Of course I jumped on it.”
Today, Dusty enjoys a seven-minute commute to his dream job as he approaches a year with the largest electric cooperative in North Carolina. “There’s not a day I’m not early for work,” he says. “I love working outside, being up in the air, riding in a UTV, helping people. I’m livin’ the dream.”
Even so, the demands of the job are undeniable, especially when you’re on call during the frigid months of winter. When asked about the most challenging aspect of being a lineman, Dusty hesitates for a second, then answers assuredly. “Getting the call late at night to come in, and being away from the people you care about,” he explains. “But the thrill of every day, the comradery at EU and the pride in helping people make it all worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
With an around-the-clock schedule, it’s fair to wonder how Dusty stays engaged on the job. “Let’s just say if the McDonald’s by my house wasn’t open 24/7, I might be in trouble,” he quips. “Black coffee. No cream or sugar. Thank you.”
Off the clock, Dusty loves hiking, hunting, spending time with his girlfriend and working out. “There’s nothing like getting in the gym, lifting weights and breaking a sweat after a long day, especially when you add music,” he explains. “I love every genre, from rap and hip hop to country and rock.” The artists in his playlist might surprise you. “Yeah, I like Metallica, Taylor Swift, George Strait,” he reveals. “Although… it’s a little hard to bench press to George Strait.”
The future of EnergyUnited has never been brighter with passionate linemen like Dusty Harris firming the ranks. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for timely news and insights, straight from the source.
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