Many years ago I used to work for a cable television company.
Those were the days before satellite television had appeared and the only way to receive anything more than the local offerings was to either have a massively tall aerial on the roof or to have the signals piped to your house via cable.
I wore two hats in the company. One job was to work in the drawing office, designing the layout of the cables, calculating where amplifiers should go and what box to stick on the front of each house. It was an interesting job but involved reams upon reams of calculations. I actually wrote a programme on my Spectrum to do all the calculations [my very first programme!] which meant I could skive off early each day but that’s another story.
The other hat I wore was to commission the systems once they were installed. The contractors would arrive in in the morning and collect the plans I had drawn up. They would then install the cables and all the equipment in the housing estates, and once they were finished, they would hand the estate back to me to commission it.
Commissioning was a pretty physical job. As all the equipment was at eaves level it meant lugging a ladder around the housing estates. This involved knocking on the door of virtually every house to ask permission to sling a ladder up against their wall. Up I would climb to the amplifier, power it up and adjust the various input and output levels which involved two hands [one for the adjusting and the other to hold the meter [about the size and weight of a nine-inch concrete block] and to twiddle its knobs. Seeing as both hands were occupied and seeing as I lacked a third hand to hold the ladder it meant a fair bit of a risky balancing act. This was compounded by the lack of consideration on the part of the householder who would usually park his car, or build a coal hole or shed just where I needed to stick the ladder. So most of the time the ladder was stuck at a crazy angle, either almost vertical or leaning precariously over at an angle. And don’t forget – I had to balance at the top of that without holding on.
Once I had done the amplifiers I then had to test the ends of each line to make sure the signals were all right. Invariably they weren’t so I would have to call to each house on the line to find the fault. In other words, a hell of a lot of ladder-lugging and an a lot of grand opportunities to fall off said ladder.
I only fell off a few times, and miraculously never broke a bone. I lost count of the near misses.
The one thing I hated about the job was the wind. When you are at the top of a ladder, which is leaning at a crazy angle with one hand gripping a heavy meter and the other up to the wrist in live electronics, a sudden gust of wind is not very welcome. My manager had little sympathy [why would he, stuck in a cosy office?] and would never take wind as an excuse for not climbing ladders. His smart-arsed answer was to tie off the top of the ladder. I would point out that a) surprisingly most suburban houses don’t have convenient cleats to tie ladders to and b) how the fuck was I supposed to tie off a ladder without climbing an unsecured ladder to do it? Yes – he was a bit of an ignorant cunt.
I did get my revenge one time though. I was sent out on a very stormy day despite my protestations. Shortly into the project I had climbed onto a flat roof in the estate, when a sharp gust of wind blew the ladder over. It nicely smashed down across the roof of a brand new car in the neighbour’s garden leaving a massive dent in it. Next Door Neighbour was not best pleased and after he had replaced the ladder so I could get down off the roof, I happily gave him my manager’s name and phone number so he could claim very large [I hope] damages against the company.
Anyways, dear folks, now you know why even to this day I hate wind. I can take cold, rain, snow, hail or anything nature can throw at me except wind.
And we seem to be getting a lot of it these days.