We’ve had a lot going on the past couple of months. We went through some really personal stuff that I’m not going to discuss publicly, we’ve been bouncing around with work, and it’s just been an emotional time overall. What I am going to talk about is how living on the road, being in the tall tower industry specifically, gives you a different perspective on family. I’m specifying tall towers as opposed to cell towers because the industry is so small in comparison, and it’s what we do. It’s how we live.
Being on the road for work, and especially in this line of work, we move a lot. We are in cities and small towns and sometimes in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We stay places for a day, a few days, weeks or sometimes months depending on the job. We are in really awesome places with great weather and our friends and family at “home” think we are living the dream. Then we are in North Dakota in November and Minnesota in January and we can’t wait to move on! Regardless of all that, these guys go to work every day and have each other’s backs. They work up to 2,000ft off the ground and they count on each other. They trust each other. I trust them to watch out for Allen and I know he does the same for them.
When we need something, anything, we turn to the guys Allen works with. His brothers. My brothers. Our family. We depend on each other. When we go out to watch the game on Sunday, we go with them. When we tie one on Saturday night, yeah, we are with the same group of guys. When I feel like trying to make a giant pot of seafood gumbo, we have them over to help eat it all! And if we are stuck on the road for holidays, everyone comes over and we celebrate together. Because we are family. This line of work isn’t easy. I don’t do it, but I live it. I’m lucky enough to live in Allen’s world and to get this extra family. My tower family.
On September 27, there was an accident in Miami, Florida and we lost 3 great tower hands. The industry is going to be hurting for a while. Even more, we lost 3 brothers. And our family will be hurting forever. BJ Anibal Rodriguez, Marcus Goffena, and Brach Barber. They were some of the best guys in the business.
I had the privilege to get to know BJ and Marcus personally over the years. Here’s a post I shared on Facebook last week…
“Family is family. On the road you get an extra family. You have a blast, you help each other, you do crazy things, you do boring things, you fight, you make up, you fight some more, you drink too much, you laugh. It’s family. These guys depend on each other every day. Every single day. I’ve gotten to be a part of this family thanks to Allen. The first time I made shrimp fried rice in Robertsdale, Alabama, Marcus said it was delicious. I shaved his back before we went to Panama City Beach and swore I’d never do it again! I got to witness the after wisdom teeth getting pulled, totally out of it, talking nonsense, like videos you see online, in Oklahoma City. I bought him soup and dropped him off at home to go to sleep. He was willing to fight for me when someone made fun of my karaoke singing at a tiny bar in an out of the way campground and he told the bartender at Outback that it was my birthday when Allen slacked on his boyfriend duties so I was surprised with some free ice cream. I watched him eat way too many medical pretzels in San Francisco and laughed when his sewer hose spewed shit all over the campground, because what can ya do?! I met a couple girlfriends who came to see him and witnessed him in action with pickup lines that I rolled my eyes at. I met his family and absolutely loved his mom Deborah Goffena. The first, and last time, we stayed on a cow farm in Oxford, North Carolina (the home of nothin’) BJ Anibal Rodríguez bought a ton of food from the store, along with some bud light platinum and huge bottle of wine for me, so I would make them lunch every day. I made my first bacon-wrapped pork loin and BJ and Allen cut it in half and finished the entire thing. BJ broke a camping chair one night, just totally fell through the seat and we laughed our asses off. He went running to his van (I called it the predator van) that night, I guess he was leaving and I didn’t want him to, so I ran after him. It was pitch black and the load line was running waist high from the hoist to the tower. We ran straight into it. He flipped over and I flew backward. Allen saw the whole thing! We had some snow days in Oklahoma City so of course we were drinking. I made two giant trays of nachos and we made BJ come help us eat them. He taught us, or tried, how to play dominos the right way. I went to pick him up from Home Depot in Palm Beach because his keys fell out of his basketball shorts and he couldn’t find them. I got some free Mexican from a food truck that day. We had AMFs all day at a Chili’s in Vacherie when it seemed like it would never stop raining and his camper turned into a house boat. These guys were family. I know these are just words, but for me I can remember all of these moments clear as day. My heart is breaking for everyone who got the joy of knowing these two men, and the realization that we will never be able to make more memories.”
We attended Marcus’s funeral this past week. It was hard. Really hard. It absolutely sucks to lose a friend and a brother. But then there’s this added layer… Like I said before, these guys were some of the best out there. I still have to kiss Allen goodbye in the morning so he can go to work and do the same thing they were doing. It’s scary. I have to trust that he is going to be as safe as he can possibly be. And I have to somehow put my faith in whatever there is out there that he’s going to come home to me that night.
We love hard, work hard, play hard, and grieve really hard. And we do it together.
If you would like to help the families of BJ, Marcus and Brach, donations can be made to The Hubble Foundation. They are an amazing organization and I highly suggest learning a bit about them.