20 Suggestions for Apprentices

Sometimes it can be confusing as an apprentice or groundman. You may ask yourself “what am I supposed to be doing, what does my lineman/crew suggest/recommend for me to be doing?” You don’t want to necessarily be that guy that always asks the lineman “what can I be doing right now?” or “what do you recommend?”. Those are stupid questions to ask a lineman, as an ape or grunt, YOU should have those answers already. That is your job to know. Instead of asking your lineman what you should be doing; i’ve compiled a list to help you if you’re questioning yourself. These are KEY recommendations and a list to follow if you’re a grunt/ape. If you decide to follow this list, this will help you become a better grunt/ape.

  1. Be on time. If you’re not 15 min early, you’re 15 min late. Your lineman should not be at the yard/showup before you. 
  2. First one out of the truck. Anytime at work, whether you’re driving the digger or bucket, as soon as you show up anywhere you’re the first one out of that truck doing what needs to be done. Getting material ready, fueling trucks, whatever it may be. Don’t let your lineman beat you to it. 
  3. Last one in. Complete the day of work, you should be the last one in the yard. And the last to leave that yard at the end of the day. 
  4. Know the last bolt on your truck. Keeping material stocked up on your truck, knowing EXACTLY what’s on your truck, to the last nut and bolt. 
  5. They are all your trucks. Like I said above, the bucket, digger and forman truck are your responsibility. Keeping them stocked up, organized and clean. 
  6. No phone. From start time to clock out time (whatever that time may be). Now obviously if you have to be on your phone for a call or something important you do it. Don’t get in the habit of snapchatting, sitting on instagram during any “down time” or having your phone out during the day; period. If a lineman sees you on your phone, he’s going to chew your rear out, because there is something more important you can be doing. Trust me. 
  7. Say YES or OKAY. It’s not that hard. Just agree, do your part. Instead of disagreeing or saying NO, just say yes, or okay. 
  8. If you take it out, put it back. Self explanatory. If you take a chain hoist and grip out, you put that back when you’re done. If you/crew borrow something from another crew YOU make sure that “thing” gets back to that crew. If you’re not sure where something goes, YOU ask where it goes. 
  9. Cones and wheel chocks. If you’re required to put out cones and use wheel chocks, you as an ape or grunt should be the first one doing that. 
  10. Climb with all tools. Regardless of task or job to be done, you should have all your tools. 
  11. Time to lean, time to clean. Simple; if you have time to lean on a truck and talk/hangout, you have time to clean. Clean/organize trucks and material. Especially at the end of day or in the morning, cleaning the trash off the truck is a big deal. Don’t let it overflow and create a mess. 
  12. Don’t assume anything. In this trade, and in life. Assuming kills. If you don’t know, ask. 
  13. Open ears, not mouth. There’s a reason you were given one mouth and 2 ears. Listen and learn instead of talking. Pickup as much information as possible. Listen.
  14. Lock bins/doors. Anytime you’re going to leave your truck in one place, unattended for longer than a few minutes; lock the bins and doors so know one can steal stuff. Getting tools stolen is the worst thing, especially if they’re personal tools. 
  15. Help fellow apes/grunts/crews. If you have all your responsibilities dialed in, clean, organized, stocked up; help your fellow brothers.
  16. Tapes, Kleins, read minds. It’s a saying I heard when I was an ape, but to an extent it’s true. Always have tape, a pair of kliens, and be able to read your JLs minds. Meaning; you should know your JLs next step and know what is going on at work. 
  17. Water. Make sure the guys on the crew have water and drinking it. Especially the ones in the air and the ones working. Staying hydrated is important, and the last thing you want is a guy on the crew to get dehydrated and ill. Make sure there is water on all trucks.
  18. Know the plan and execute. Preparing for, and out on the job, make sure to be part of the tailboard, and know what the plan is for the job/day. Switching orders, getting material ready, and properly preparing for the job so it can get done. If you don’t know, ask questions so you can get familiar. 
  19. Learn framing/spec. Each spot you go and work, especially different utility properties, learn the spec for the utility. It’s different everywhere you go. The sooner you can learn the spec for that property you’re working on, the more of a helping hand you’ll be. Each forman should have a spec book for that property, learn and get familiar with it. Trust me, it’ll be helpful!
  20. Learn how each lineman likes things done. Linemen can be picky and like things done their way. If you get on a new crew, or get a new lineman, learn how he likes things done. They have been used to doing something for many years, and that’s what they’re used to. Learn those things. 

As a lineman myself, I try to lead by example, but that’s not always the case. If you see your lineman doing something that YOU could be doing instead of him, I would do it…so he doesn’t have to. A lot of lineman are just going to expect (the things listed) to be done by an ape/grunt. Or they’ll just yell at you and call you some awesome names. So learning your place and responsibility is important.

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