Adventures in Bucket-Truckery

November-December 2018

Margot Oxendine

This is the time of year when columnists wax rhapsodic about the joys of giving, and giving thanks. The holidays are upon us. There’s much I’m thankful for, and, I look forward to giving (and receiving) holiday gifts. But, this is not one of those holiday columns.

Most months, I sit here hoping for the column muse to hit me, so to speak. This column, however, is a result of me hitting my own self upside the head.

It seemed to me, just as fall had begun, that a “fun” idea would be to take a ride in the BARC Electric Cooperative bucket. You know — that bucket attached to a big crane, that rises waaaaaay up high, so linemen can get our power back on, or make sure it doesn’t go off.

From time to time, the BARC folks will bring a truck or two to a public event, and offer bucket rides. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Haven’t you always sorta wanted to do it?

So, during the happy little one-day Bath County Fair on Sept. 29, I decided, since I had to cover the fair anyway (well, there was also a doggie show, which will always get me out of the house), that taking a bucket ride might make a good column idea.

And so, it did.

I stood in line amidst an anticipatory crowd of children. Was I the only adult going up in the bucket? Yep, I was.

The line was long. Children got hooked into camouflage safety vests, complete with hook that clasped into a ring in the bucket, and up they went. They were gleefully waving, calling to parents, laughing out loud.

“This will be fun!” I said to myself.

I had an awful worry, but it was put to rest when I noticed the sign on the side of the bucket: Weight limit 400 pounds.

Whew. Good to go.

Burly BARC linemen were waiting to help us. There were four of them: Mark, Jody, Johnny and Nick. They’re used to being high in the bucket in the dark, with storms raging around them. They’re apparently fearless.

I discovered many things about a bucket ride. First, just clambering onto the truck was a trial: The steps were slim, and spaced far apart, for my short legs. I was determined, though, to appear as agile as possible. I did, however, mention my new, not-quite-so bendy knees to the fellow who helped haul me aboard the truck.

Once up there, I examined the bucket. It would require a high knee-clearance to get my legs over the lip, and then, quite a long drop to the bucket floor.

“Don’t worry; we’ve got you,” the BARC guys encouraged. Someone found a metal box I could step on. That made the drop to the floor that much further, but I didn’t want to complain. Finally, the two guys on the truck called over two other guys to help, and they all hefted me inside the bucket.

That’s when I discovered the bucket swings and sways, like a Ferris wheel car. I’d worry about that later.

A lineman was also in the bucket. I quickly added our weights together in my head, and hoped for the best. He needed to be in front of, rather than behind me. So, he squeezed around me in the tight space. “Hey!” I shouted in my fun voice. “I need to know your name, since we’ve already been intimate!”

It was Johnny. Suddenly, we were off! We rose up and up and the bucket swung and swayed, and I wondered why I’d thought this would be fun.

“We can go down anytime you like,” Johnny offered. I was determined, though, to get some overall fair-view photos. And not to show fear. I closed my eyes, but then realized that negated the idea of a bucket ride. Higher and higher we rose. I held out the camera and just kept hitting the shutter. Meanwhile, I just kept shuddering.

When we finally came down, it again took all four linemen to wrestle me out of the bucket. Poor Johnny had to wedge in behind me and push me up by my, uh, backside. Everyone was laughing, including the crowd on the ground. Perhaps I should have been billed as fair entertainment?

There’s a popular book by David Foster Wallace. It’s called A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I think I’ll buy it today.

Happy holidays to all!

To order Margo’s book, “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Monday-Thursday 9-5, or email: [email protected]