Kelly -- a man of integrity, vinyl and steel -- gets hauled to safety by hundreds of utility workers from 236 power companies this weekend during the International Lineman's Rodeo. In spite of having been through more than his share of near-death electrocutions, Kelly's hair is always impeccable -- one of the many joys of having locks made of plastic. But when Kelly falls, he is vulnerable in a way that his hair is not -- his wire cables and springs make his movements lifelike, and his dead weight is just as unwieldy as a limp human being's.
Scott Meharg of MPL Professional Health Educators -- the company that distributes Tuff Kelly -- describes the Hurt Man Rescue as follows: "When one lineman gets injured while he's up on the pole, another lineman has to go up and bring him down. The key to it, obviously, is speed and safety. In other words, you don't want the mannequin to hit the pole on the way down."
The Hurt Man Rescue drives home the danger of being a lineman. For that rubberneckin' feeling, go to powerlineman.com and click on the accident archive. The vast majority of stories there, recounted as cautionary tales, end in death -- making for a decent argument that, in this technological age, being a lineman is more badass than being a cowboy.
Another thing: Linemen and utility enthusiasts laugh at your ignorance of their trade. "Most people do not realize the risk of working with high-voltage electricity at those heights," Meharg says. Posted on powerlineman.com's message board is a photo for a Best Buy ad in which products for home repair dangle from a power line like so many socks hung to dry. A plaid shirt-wearing dude without a helmet rests his butt against the pole, reaching precariously forward to grab the items. The lineman who posted the photo finds the image comical. "These guys that make up the ads obviously have no clue what they are looking at when they look up," he writes.