Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

By Jim Pilgrim

Back in the early 1990s, I was a CO Supervisor at US West. I had a crew of 12 Technicians, 10 on the day shift, 1 on evenings and 1 on nights. Together we covered the Minneapolis Downtown Central Office which is one of the largest in the country. We worked on equipment ranging from OC-48 fiber transport, Digital Cross Connects to SLC and Channel Banks even a UNIX based system that allowed our customers to remotely configure their own T1s. We had over 30 different technologies to provision and maintain. This one CO had tens of thousands of T1s and thousands of T3s. Oh yes – I had hair back then and very little when I left.

When you have a crew of 12, you will inevitably have people with a variety of capabilities and talent. In my crew of 12 we had 2 “Superstars” who thought they were irreplaceable. They thought knowledge was power and they held tight to that with both hands. They refused to help cross-train on the complex systems and scared others into being intimidated by them. What they didn’t realize was true success is achieved by trust and working together. Their unwillingness to share only revealed their own insecurities. Hubris and ego was their Achilles heel.

When I took over the crew after the previous supervisor left for retirement, a battle was inevitable. When I started a cross-training program they dug in their heels and told me they were going to transfer to one of the other 50 or so COs in the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area and I “helped” make that happen. I don’t take kindly to threats and I don’t intimidate easily. I’m sure they thought the second they walked out the door, the place would go up in smoke. It didn’t.

3 years later I had an opportunity for a promotion. At my going-away party my crew presented me with a group photo they had taken of themselves and it was signed “Jim’s Crew”. We had become a family. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and worked together and helped each other every day.

Individually, the Superstars may have been smarter and more technical, but collectively we were.