“The Shawshank Redemption” is one of my favorite movies. In one scene, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, played by Morgan Freeman, is sitting in front of the parole board. He is pouring his heart out to the members of the board when they ask him, “Do you feel rehabilitated?” Red tells them, “I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid … I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are.” I, too, wish I could go back and talk to my younger self about one thing in particular – it sure would be saving me some heartache today.
I started working for an electric utility, SCE&G, in 1979, and I have pretty much been outside in the sun every day since. When I started at SCE&G, I worked on the coast near Charleston, South Carolina, where summers are hot and humid, and the sun is direct. Many days after work, my clothes were soaked with sweat, all the way down to my underwear and socks. I even had to dry my boots out every now and then.
When I made lineman in the 1980s, many lineworkers wore long-sleeved shirts and extra-wide shades on their hard hats. They also used company-provided sunscreen. I thought the long sleeves were for protection from creosote on the poles, and the hard hat shades were to shade workers’ eyes. I even asked my foreman, an old-timer named Ronald, “Why do you wear long sleeves? Is it to keep the creosote off your arms?”