Let me introduce you to my Dad, the Smooth Substation Operator. He worked for a municipal electric utility for many years. I loved hanging out with him at work as a teenager, riding out with him in the van as he did his rounds at various stations, taking readings, tagging devices, doing some switching every once in a while. Of course, we also got to jump car wrecks and house fires any time power lines might be involved.
Part of the tour of a shift always involved some time at the Control Center, with old-school grizzly dispatchers so grumpy that I'm Mary Poppins. I learned how to behave around them, and knew I found success when they started to let me have a donut once in a while. I thought, dang, these guys have a cool job. I'd like to try that one day. I wanted to be a firefighter as my first aspiration, but power dispatching also looked like awesome stuff for a control freak like me. Lucky me, I get to do both!
Despite his employer constantly leaning on him to give up his senior spot as a station operator and become a dispatcher, Dad was never dumb enough to take them up on it. Yeah, here's your raise, now you have to sit in the control center and deal with bosses wearing ties all day. No more time outside, on your own, watching baseball on your portable black and white TV at lonely remote substations. Smart man, my Dad.
ANYway.... this is one of my favorite stories he's shared with me. Wish I had been there. I don't remember the specifics, but the essence is accurate.
So Dad is working a stint on a project at the control center instead of out in the field. There is a routine feeder outage that a dispatcher is handling, and Dad is working near the consoles. Dad's company was much, much smaller than the behemoth I work for, so the dispatchers did in fact have to handle some of the overflow calls from customers. The phones keep ringing, and Dad decides to take a call to help the guys out.
Smooth Substation Operator: City Light, how can I help you?
Little Old Lady: Yes, I live at 486 Rose Lane. My lights have been out for a while now, do you know when they will come back?
Dad has a remarkable ability to listen to about four things at once, so in the din he overhears the dispatcher giving orders to a station operator. The feeder has been repaired and they are about to re-energize. He realizes that Little Old Lady is on the feeder.
SSO: Your lights are out? Well, I think I can probably fix that for you, ma'am.LOL: Really? Oh, thank you!Dispatcher in Background: 309, close power circuit breaker 14 at Garden Court Sub.Truck 309: Copy, close power circuit breaker 14 at Garden Court Sub.DIB: That is correct.
SSO: Aha, there's the red button I was looking for, let me press this for you!
Within the next few seconds, the Truck 309 crew closed the breaker and picked up the feeder.
LOL: (sweetly) Oh, thank you, so much, they're on now! Thank you so very much! That did the trick!SSO: Of course, ma'am, thanks for calling to let us know. Call back anytime!
I can only imagine the conversation that ensued the next time Little Old Lady's lights went out.
LOL: Well, last time I called, you guys just pressed that red button on the desk. Why can't you do that again? Honestly! I want to talk to the man who helped me last time!