Lori Gamber's Perspective:
I MARRIED A LINEMAN
It’s the middle of the night, pouring down rain, thunder roaring, lightning strikes and power goes out. While most families are safe inside, away from the outside elements, with loved ones near awaiting the storm to pass and the electricity to come back on, a lineman’s family is not as fortunate.
“My husband’s cell phone rings. As I listen to the conversation, I know it’s the Cooperative’s after-hour service dispatching Stuart to the location of a power outage,” Lori explained. Lori is the proud wife of Stuart Gamber, lineman of 28 years.
“When we first got married and Stuart would get called out at night, I would panic,” Lori said. “Although I don’t panic like I used to, I still feel my stomach tighten when he gets that outage call. “You always worry. It will never go away. A lineman’s work is dangerous and one mistake can be deadly. That’s scary.”
Safety is front and center in a lineman’s world. “I not only have to trust that my husband will work safely, I have to trust every single lineman he works with,” explained Lori. “That’s why it’s so important to Stuart to train the new lineman the right way or as Stuart puts it “The Smart Way”.”
“Before my husband leaves on an outage we always tell each other ‘I love you.’ On major storm damage repairs, you never know when you will have the opportunity to see or talk to each other. What’s most important is that every lineman works safe and comes home safely to their families,” Lori stressed.
Although linemen have one of the most dangerous jobs Lori would not want her husband to do any other job. “Being married to a lineman is an honor and I am so proud of my husband,” explained Lori. He loves being a lineman and is devoted to his career, providing electricity to member-owners and their families.”
“Of course, there are challenges like planning events around Stuart’s on-call schedule. And, yes, he has missed a few birthdays and Christmas gatherings throughout his career. However, you learn to celebrate when you can and sometimes that means changing dates,” Lori said. “At first, it used to bother me when he would get called out on Christmas. Early on, I made myself look at it from a different perspective – there’s a family out there that will have a brighter Christmas because my husband restored their power. That’s a good feeling.”
“Stuart’s lineman career has impacted our family positively,” explained Lori. “Our son, Travis, went to lineman school and had the opportunity to intern with Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative after college. He is now working full-time for MidAmerican Energy. We are extremely proud of him.”
”I would tell any new lineman’s spouse the same thing I tell my daughter-in-law, Sam – you must learn to give and take. You never know when the phone is going to ring. Travis missed his daughter’s 2nd birthday due to an outage after-hours and Sam was upset. I am able to relate to the challenges and remind her they both knew what they signed up for when Travis made the decision to be a lineman. You gotta learn to roll with it,” is Lori’s advice.
“Although Stuart is a few years from retirement, I’m already looking forward to less laundry. I will not miss the mud, grease and gravel. For me, that has been one of the biggest challenges,” Lori said with a smile.
As Lori reflects on their marriage, she feels truly blessed for having a dedicated, compassionate husband that has provided for their family. “Working for Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative has given us opportunities financially to live a fulfilled life doing what we want to do and helping out our kids. For that we are forever grateful.”