Top Five Tough Jobs Made Doubly Sucky In This Storm

The wind is howling (tornado warnings in San Jose) and we’re getting 1-2 inches of rain each day and it’s *cold*.

In other words, it’s winter in the Bay Area.

During a brief break in the storm, I headed out today to run a couple errands.

While out and about I saw a CalTrans guy (called the highway department to the rest of the world) in full head to toe bright yellow heavy weather gear.

He was out there yanking leaves and branches out of the storm drains.

See, here in the Bay Area, we feature a lot of eucalyptus trees. They have these tree trunks that peel off long strips. We also have plenty of palm trees that will drop a huge frond at the slightest breeze.

Add some pine needles from all the redwoods, a heap of your garden variety debris, and you got yourself clogged storm drains that then back water up onto the streets. Hello flooding!

As I watched the guy wade into rushing water and pull out another tree branch, I thought…now that’s a sucky gig!

Further down the road I saw the trash guy doing his job, also wearing full bright yellow storm gear against the rain.

And I thought, wow, also sucky.

So I mentally put together my list…top five jobs that are already very tough to do, but are made, like, eleventy billion times worse in this crazy storm.

Here we go:

1. As mentioned…CalTrans employee. Especially the people who work out on the major highways unclogging drains, placing pylons around huge potholes, trying to drain flooded low spots on the highway, etc. You get the idea. Ugh.

2. Trash collector. Look, on a good day this is a rough gig. Now put stinky trash in the rain and with flooded roads and people not driving safely and hoo boy, isn’t THAT a nice day at work?

3. PG&E field response. Yeah, when the power goes out due to high winds, these are the people that strap on, once again, the bright yellow high weather gear. Then they get to climb a frapping ladder and hope that one, they don’t fall off, and two, that all the water doesn’t conduct a little extra electricity their way. And the yo-yo’s in all the warm houses get all pissed off when they have no power, so there’s some abuse in this job too. Truly, a thankless gig.

4. Bridge toll taker. Ok, so there you are in the storm of the year, inside a box roughly as big as an old fashioned phone booth attached to a suspension bridge that is engineered to sway. Riiight. The bridge is swaying there over the frosty waters of this inlet from the Pacific with no wind break. And oh by the way, you have to leave that big window open on the tool booth and reach your hand out there once every half minute to take money out of people’s hands. No freaking thank you.

Finally, bar none…

5. Tow truck driver. Sure, this weather makes them a lot of money, but they also have to deal with all manner of idiots. Ever hear of a “solo spin out”? I hadn’t until I moved here. This means one person losing control of their car and whipping around, usually ending up off the pavement (and hopefully not down an embankment).

When it goes right, it’s a “solo” problem. When it doesn’t go right, it’s a horrible, traffic clogging accident. And the tow truck guy has gotta strap on the bright yellow gear and then yank all those cars out of the way while the stopped traffic curses at him, the car owners harass him and the dispatch is calling him begging for his help at another spot.


Just, really. Gah.

I can say I’m not man enough for that job. Oh but I love to hear stories from tow truck drivers. Those people have seen some stuff…whoooieee.

Anyhow, as I bunker down with the heat running and a warm cup of tea in hand, here’s a huge thanks to the CalTrans employees, trash collectors, PG&E technicians, toll collectors and tow truck drivers on this crazy blustery day.

Oh, and also the police and fire rescue who are working non-stop in this mess. And the EMT’s in all the emergency rooms, too.

Thank you for doing a mostly thankless job.

(clearly this guy only has to model and never has to use this gear because he is WAY too chipper in that outfit. I’ve never seen a grin like that on someone who really had to use that gear)

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