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Print | A Hero for Today in Tulare County
Off the Grid - Mar 08 2009
by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster : t.melinda@portervillepost.com

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster The knight in shining amour came into my life on a wintry road as the blades of snow descended on my four wheel drive Chevy truck. The truck had groaned coming up the hill from our snow bound cabin to Highway 190. The snow had been pristine, no plow had touched it, something I had grown used to.

Our satellite had been out for nearly two weeks due to vandalism. Often times we associate vandalism with kids. No kids here. I was very sure about the guilty party. When it is a matter of ripping out the coaxial cables from an instillation located on a two story house that was unoccupied for only a few days during a snow storm it has to be someone local. People from 'down in the flats,' do not come up when it is storming because they get stuck in the snow up Highway 190.

The only other human being we saw that day, besides Jakob, was The Suspect, tootling along in the truck he occasionally managed to drive straight. It is likely he prefers using a quad with a blade that removes not much snow, piling it up so it can turn into black ice. The beer cans are easier to throw out that way.

You have to have evidence, the Deputy told me. Finger prints, regrettably, wash off when left in the snow. That is equally true, evidently, for your cut brake lines as for your satellite. Over time even the mentally impaired notice the chain of events.

Those who are feloniously inclined do not climb onto a steep roof. They break in. This kind of vandalism, aimed at my livelihood, since the suspect knows I earn my living working online, was the only one with a motivation who was known to be in the area.

My knight in shining amour, Jakob, added, examining the evidence, that the guy had probably nearly fallen off the roof since the vertical structures were bent as well. He showed me the lines, cut out neatly so I would be able to photograph them for the sheriff.

It had looked like no one would come when I got up that morning. Snow scares most men, evidently. The day before, when it was bright, clear and the snow was entirely gone, two repairmen turned off their cell phones, afraid to venture up into Snow Country. But not Jakob. He got out of his SUV at what we used to call the Store, strapped on his equipment, and got into my truck for the trip down. He was clanking slightly. Later said he tried to bring extras of everything, and we headed down the hill, recrossing my tread marks.

What kind of a guy braves the storm to get someone back on line? A hero, the same kind of guy who dropped everything to respond to 9/11. Jakob Phillips is a high tech guy who can nudge the satellite to work when it is groaning from the abuse it has suffered, who cheerfully climbed the ladder as the wind and snow sliced off pieces of his anatomy to repair the damage done by The Suspect. Jakob occasionally came in to warm himself, sitting close to the fire. Once he nearly burned his boot as he told us about his experiences in fire fighting and other exciting and dangerous professions he has tried.

While he defrosted feet and hands Jakob also talked about his family, eyes lighting up. His wife, Kelley, he said, is the greatest Mom in the world to their three beautiful kids. We compared notes. I had five and hearing about other kids never loses its charms. Jakob's are obviously delightful, intelligent and gonna be just like their parents. Talking about them brought a glow to his face that warmed more than just hands and feet. .

Today America needs just this kind of involvement. Getting back up on line means everything to me. Tammy, the dispatcher knew that. So did Jakob. What kind of guy comes up the 190 to make sure that happens? The kind of guy who understands that America is about helping each other.

Thanks, Jakob. And give the kids a hug from me.

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