Miguel Bautista calls his job the “backbone” of every city — and he’s not wrong.
The 29-year-old is a groundman, which means he’s responsible for electrical power line construction and maintenance. This includes knowing how to use hand and power tools, operating utility vehicles and even climbing up electrical poles to work on anything that needs fixing.
Bautista got into the business during his first semester of college. He had just transferred from community college and his tuition bills were adding up.
“If I go to this university for two years and get my bachelor’s degree, and then I have to go do another two years for a master’s degree where I’m still not guaranteed anything — I think I was just doing it to make my family proud,” he told In The Know.
In 2018, Bautista enlisted in the army reserves and worked with cars as a generator mechanic.
“Instantly I realized I liked working more with tools than I do having to work with people,” he said. “I started thinking, ‘Well, I already have some knowledge with tools, why not just keep going with that?'”
A year after enlisting, he started training to be a lineman at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and enrolled as an aspiring power line mechanic.
“It almost felt like second nature to me,” Bautista said.
His first job, based in San Diego, had him digging 6-foot by 11-foot holes for future power lines. To get to the mountains where he was supposed to dig, he had to be carried via a cable line from a helicopter.
“Even though it’s just digging a hole, there is a kind of art to it,” he added. “It gets even trickier when there are rocks and hard soil.”
Bautista work ranges from environments in the blistering southern California heat to even the snow. But that just adds to the fun of the job for him.
“It always feels like an adventure,” he said.
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