When the storms blow in and the power goes out, Tabetha Jackson is the woman you want to see rolling into your neighborhood. As a SWEPCO troubleshooter, Jackson climbs up the pole, finds the problem and gets the power back on in no time.
In 2000, Jackson was a college student just looking to make some extra money over the summer. Jackson’s two uncles, dad and brother were all on a SWEPCO crew and loved to work outside. They suggested she join them for the summer while school was out. Jackson agreed and 18 years later, she’s still loving the work.
When she first entered the field, Jackson was on a line crew and she worked her way up over the years through the company’s apprenticeship program. Today Jackson is a troubleshooting journeyman lineman.
“I definitely get weird looks sometimes when I’m the one to show up to get the power back on,” Jackson said. “Some people are really surprised that a woman is the one to show up and get to work.”
Jackson says that having thick skin is a must when you’re working outside with guys all day.
“What I lack in strength I make up for in knowledge. I know how to do my job well, and I’m always doing everything in my power to get the lights back on,” Jackson said.
For two years, from 2005-2007, Jackson lived in Colorado and worked lines there. Ultimately, she returned to Shreveport for family. Whether working in Colorado or Louisiana, Jackson says she has recieved nothing but support from the company and her male colleagues along the way.
Jackson has done her job so long now she said it feels natural. While working in a business where she is dealing with people who are frustrated that their lights are out, she said most customers are extremely appreciative when she arrives on the scene.
“I have kids run out with their smiles on to greet me when I get to a job and I’ve even had some people make me coffee while I’ve been on the job,” Jackson said.
While climbing up poles in the wind and rain presents a unique challenge, she said dealing with dogs is the most hazardous part of her job.
One day, while responding to a call, Jackson checked the backyard of the customer for any signs of dogs. Seeing none, she strolled, whistling, through the back gate. In a matter of seconds two German shep-herds raced around the corner chasing her. Jackson jumped the fence, only to realize she had left the gate open upon entry. She jumped back over to close the gate and the owner of the dogs came outside and got them under control.
“The dogs didn’t escape the yard, but they sure scared the mess out of me,” Jackson said, laughing.
In recent years, Jackson has been encouraged by the increase in numbers of women joining the lineman community.
“The future looks bright for women in this field,” Jackson said. “Anyone can do this type of work as long as they have the determination and right mindset.”