Seasonal tree-trimming of rights of way helps prevent power outages, and crews can be ruthless about staying on schedule. But an Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. team recently took a little time for extra care and kindness to protect an unusual pet.
Senior foreman Chastin McLain and mechanized trimmer operator Rodney Etheridge were working a job for Intercounty Electric Cooperative not far from the distribution co-op’s Licking, Missouri, headquarters.
At 44 feet long and nearly 11 feet high locked down, their 12-ton aerial trimmer and transport trailer can’t just park anywhere. So, Maj. Josh Campbell, a ranking officer with the Missouri State Park Rangers, gave them full access to his property to get their work done.
During the visit, Campbell’s hand-raised duck took an interest in McLain and Etheridge, following them around the property and quacking loudly at their heels as they worked. When the men finished up, the duck stayed close by as they loaded the rig on its trailer and prepared to drive off in their crew truck.
“Instead of kicking at the duck or just leaving the duck to fend for itself, they did something above and beyond,” said Campbell, who witnessed the incident on video from one of his security cameras. “The passenger picked the duck up and relocated it to the yard before they pulled away.”
Campbell, impressed with the kindness, wrote a letter to AECI heaping praise on the pair.
“To find an employee who will go above and beyond when no one is looking is almost unheard of,” wrote Campbell, who says the Missouri mallard is more than just a family pet. “For one, no one was looking and, for two, most don’t take the time to recognize great effort if they do see it.”
Taking a little extra time was not a problem for the crew, and the payoff was pulling back onto the road knowing that the duck was safe at home.
“We were trying be mindful of their pet,” said foreman McLain. “We were trying to be extra safe.”
“My neighbors have had ducks that wander onto our property, so I have had quite a bit of practice at handling them,” said Etheridge. “When we were leaving the jobsite, I held the duck until Chastin backed up and we left.”
Details of the tree crew’s actions spread to AECI’s senior management and were shared in the employee newsletter.
“We always appreciate it when our crews go above and beyond and do the small extra things that illustrate the values of all of our employees,” said Joe Richie, AECI’s director of utility services.
Derrill Holly is a staff writer at NRECA.