Sunday, June 17, 2012

Love, Life & Death - At the Telephone Company

A number of (sensational-accidental-bizarre) deaths occurred in the early 1980's when I was working as a Summer Student at BCTel (now called TELUS), at the Head Office location (nicknamed the "boot" due to it being in the shape of a work-boot, personally I liked calling it a "stairway" as in a stairway to heaven) located at the corner of Boundary & Kingsway.
Three deaths in all, and one near death, a guard was shot during a bank robbery in the building but he survived to tell the tale. I remember being fascinated by seeing the dent left by one of the bullets in the lower parkade elevator door.
I was not a witness to any of these deaths (or the incident above) but was told about them by others. It is also interesting to note that all three deaths I am about to tell you about involved the use of - cable - (or wire of some kind).
My Courageous Cousin
Two deaths involved people working at the "boot" itself, the third death was that of my cousin Larry.  Larry was a bit younger than me, but like me working a summer job while out of school for the summer. I believe it was actually his first (real) summer job.
Larry was working on a job site for a crane company, he and another young fellow were asked to hold onto a long wire cable connected to the crane, unfortunately when the crane moved it touched some high-voltage power lines, Larry was in front and absorbed most of the electric current which was so intense it melted his new work-boots (that his Dad had bought him for the job) to the pavement and was dead before he hit the ground. The young co-worker, behind Larry survived, but was burnt so bad that it took many surgeries for him to eventually look normal again.
A long inquiry conducted after the incident found no wrongdoing on the part of Larry or his co-worker as they were just following direction. A sum of money was offered as compensation to Larry's Dad, Uncle Bob, but he refused to accept it calling it "blood money" and for them to keep it (or donate it to charity, instead).
The Blonde Bombshell
During the summer it was a good time to wash the many windows at the "boot". I was not involved with this myself as I had left a Manufacturing Job (making telecom cables and fixing telecom equipment, some of which was used by BCTel) in order to work at my first Office Job.
Due to the terraced design of the "boot" quite nice actually, now officially called The Brian Canfield Centre (named after the current Chair of TELUS who still works in the building (when he is not in California) but should probably be named after my old friend Gordon McFarlane (former CEO & Chair) of BCTel who actually built the "boot", located across the street from Burnaby Central Park which some think was in honour of the “boys from New York City” a company by the name of GTE which was a large shareholder of BCTel and donated a lot of used telecom equipment to BCTel over the years.
See Photo of the "Boot" -
The terraced nature of the "boot" enabled easy access to the lower east-side windows and patio area enabling a cleaner to wash the windows without using (dangling from) a harness. Like most buildings this work was conducted by contractors.
The interesting thing about these particular contractors on this particular occasion, was that one of the workers happened to be a female and a good looking blonde one at that, who stood out quite brightly in the sunshine (and yes I did see her myself and was concerned about all the attention she was getting from office workers in the building and how it might be distracting her from her work). Compared to now, it was quite uncommon to see a female doing that kind of work, in those days.
Latter (the next day I believe) I was told that the blonde girl had fallen down, due to a safety cable not being attached properly, etc.... and died.
The Horny Rascal
A young twenty something fellow like myself who was an acquaintance of mine who worked in a different department and different floor than me, but someone I knew from working there. A nice guy, but one who freaked me out a bit because of his interest in girls & sex. Not unusual for guys this age of course, but he seemed to take it to a whole new level.
Unlike me he was a good-looking guy who could have probably "had" any girl in the building (including possibly the twin girls I graduated with at Burnaby South, one of whom worked in his department), or even any girl in the company. Also unlike me he was probably related to someone important in the company, possibly even a big-wig executive type dude. Also, unlike me, he struck me as someone who was naturally good in school and did not need to work hard at obtaining the grades he got in school. Also, unlike me, it seemed like he was set for a lifetime career with the company... a prospect it seemed to me (& also unlike me) he seemed to be bored with...
One day after coming into work I was surprised to learn from one of the men in my department that my "friend" had died... something about "love gone wrong" during a love-making session... whereby my "friend" had been asphyxiated by the use of cable (around his neck) during the "act"...
One of the redeeming qualities I say to myself about not "getting-on" with the company is that at least I am not getting cabled (or roped) into anything... And from the company's point of view (for not hiring me) its not that they did not want to have me "kicking around" the "boot", maybe its just that they thought I was - bad luck...
I am not sure why I wrote about these long-ago incidents, but I feel better now that I have done so... as maybe it shows the fragility of life... and that maybe wellness can help improve things...
I also have an account on Twitter now - see -!/RickOrser/ - and considering I am an eternal optimist I would like to leave on a positive note by linking to the jingles below, and keeping in mind the immortal final words of my old idle former Capt James T.Kirk of the Starship Enterprise before dying, in describing his life (& travels) that - “it was - fun”.
The Manhattan Transfer - Boy from New York City

Led Zepplin-Stairway to Heaven (best quality)