Cell site work

My cell site work in 2000

by Duane Ausherman

 Tek Systems, now defunct, was contracted by Nortel, a Canadian firm, to install telecom equipment.  This pay stub is from Tek Systems and was for cell site work as auditor and trainer of contractors.

This was for my biggest week ever, as I worked 108 hours.  I had to do it because of upper-level mismanagement.  I kept telling the project manager that we violated the contract, but he wouldn’t listen.  The contract required us to do some night testing.  I was the only technician qualified to do that work.

The gross of $5056 didn’t include the 10% completion bonus, which I got at the end of the contract.  That comes to $5561 plus mileage.  The year was 2000, and with inflation, it would equal about $8,300 in 2019.  Not bad for one week.

I drove 656 miles that week at the Federally allowed rate of $.55 a mile.  Over those years, my Camry cost me only $.25 a mile, leaving me 30 cents a mile profit.  That came to almost $200 of profit, but that is expense money and isn’t taxed.  I love that expense money profit.  AT&T paid for that car three times.

Notice that the withholding was $2283.  That was more than the average income for a month for a family of 4.  I would never have worked that many hours if I had had a choice.

Each day was a grouping of two stints of work.  I was managing my day crew, then catching a few hours of sleep, and going out to do the alarm wiring work that can only be done at night.  Taking a cell site off of the air can only be done at night when customers should be sleeping.  Since I could easily be 150 miles away from home, I didn’t have time to also drive home for only a few hours of sleep.  I slept in my Camry.  Working that many hours made me a bit sick from exhaustion and lack of sleep.

My usual week was about 1/2 that much pay, as you will see from the Tek Systems letter to immigration.  It documents my pay for 11 months.  I had to prove that we could afford to feed our exchange students.  We managed.

Over the years, I have put in some time with nearly all of the major wireless phone providers.  I preferred AT&T because they had the worst management, and that meant great overtime pay.

I really liked cell site work, as it used some of my radio experience learned from my hobby of Ham Radio.

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Updated 30 March 2023