Earning a Living

@UncleJoe (9461)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
January 23, 2018 10:49am CST
Although I have posted stories about when I drove over-the-road for a living, that was only a small part of how I used to make a living. There were a few other vocations “under my belt” that I relied on. These were chosen professions for an uneducated man that paid more than minimum wage. It took a lot more than that to support a family. One such occupation was as a heavy equipment operator. Bulldozers, excavators, motor-graders, etc. However, this is not a skill that is developed overnight. It actually took years to become proficient enough to become a 1st Class Operator. My first time at running a dozer was at age 15. That only lasted for about 3 hours. That was because I got the 20 ton machine stuck in a marsh that I was told not to go out onto. It wasn’t until I was about 26 that the opportunity rose again. I applied for and got a job that I was nowhere near qualified for. Grading a new golf course. The truth was that was that even though I could start the machine, move it all around and make the blade go up and down, I still didn’t know how to actually grade with it. Nor did I have any idea how to push down trees. Trying to was my undoing. The D-5 Caterpillar I was running happened to be almost new. Yet it lacked one safety feature that all earth-moving machines are required by law to have today. A cab shield, which is not a cab, but a steel roof with 4 steel supports for roll-over protection. There was nothing between me and the sky. One of the tasks my foreman instructed me to perform was to take down a large Pine tree that was dying at the edge of the fairway. That sounded like fun to me. I had never pushed a tree down before. Nosing the blade up against the trunk, I expected that tree to just fall right over. It was until years later that I was shown the correct technique in removing trees. This time taught me a more valuable lesson. That I had no business doing what I was. Loggers call them “widow-makers“. Something that will kill a man not paying attention. I wasn’t married at that time but could just as easily been killed. Although most of the tree top appeared to be green and alive, there were a couple of large dead limbs up there about 70-80 feet, waiting to drop. All it took was a little shaking. “KA-BAM!” A dead, but still solid huge limb fell right down on the dozer’s right track, a smaller branch slapping my right hand on the blade control. I froze. A foot or so to the left and I would not be posting this. MORE STORIES COMING
7 people like this
7 responses
@Platespinner (16533)
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Jan
I'm glad that the limb missed! My husband's adventures in logging as a young man ended rather abruptly when he flipped a skidder. Like you, he went where he was told not to go (it must be a guy thing ).
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9461)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 Jan
@Platespinner Years of experience in that line of work has taught me that it is easier to get hurt than not. Usually because of avoidable mistakes.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
23 Jan
@UncleJoe That's actually a very apt description of life "it is easier to get hurt than not. Usually because of avoidable mistakes."
1 person likes this
@FourWalls (12903)
• United States
23 Jan
That's why we need people who know how to operate them. I wouldn't get near a bulldozer. I like to doze, and that's no bull...but that's the beginning and end of my relationship with those big monsters.
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9461)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 Jan
Easier said than done @FourWalls It took almost 15 years to learn everything you're NOT supposed to do with equipment. It takes years of practice to become smooth and efficient.
1 person likes this
@JolietJake (49856)
• United States
23 Jan
Marshy ground is sneaky. I've 'buried' a tractor plowing a field in the river bottoms before. Never operated a 'dozer, I've got experience with a backhoe, and in my younger days I sometimes kept a backup ho around
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9461)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 Jan
I like backhoes @JolietJake but I prefer excavators. Especially mini's. I used to own 3 of them
1 person likes this
@RasmaSandra (16566)
• Riga, Latvia
23 Jan
You had a lucky angel riding on your shoulder.
1 person likes this
@UncleJoe (9461)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 Jan
You are right there @RasmaSandra But he dove out of the way when he saw that big limb coming down!
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (99705)
• United States
23 Jan
I suppose it would take a lot of practice to avoid being killed by a fallen tree or limb. Glad that limb did not kill you!
1 person likes this
@UncleJoe (9461)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
23 Jan
Most machines I have used for clearing timber since then @Corbin5 have steel cages built around the cab.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (118543)
• Bunbury, Australia
24 Jan
We had a tree limb come down near us just a few days ago - and we weren't even shaking the tree!
1 person likes this
@Spontaneo (1107)
• United States
23 Jan
You sure did have an guardian angel!
1 person likes this