Over the years while Cutting and Climbing Tree's in Tucson, Arizona a leading Tree Service can expect a few injuries. We have seen a few but thankfully nothing too major and most important we have never had a Workmans Comp or General Liability Accident. That is saying alot since we have out performed many others with our scheduling having cranked out one job after another tallying 10's of Thousands.
Here at Chris and Amanda's Tree Service we have built a reputation of being the hardest working group of local Tucsonans around. I know everyone works hard, but if you've had us out you know first hand that we are quick, efficient and often function like trained athletes on a team competing for a gold metal. On a hotter than hot day many years ago while climbing a tree I suffered one of the common setbacks that we often face in such a physical and hard line of work, and here is the story below.
Manuel was one of the greatest leads and climbers that we had for years here at Chris and Amanda's Tree Service, many of you may remember him. Often he and I would climb tree's at the same time and it wasn't uncommon for a fellow Tucson Tree Service competitor to call us and say how impressed they were with our work after driving by and watching a job of ours. In addition customers often called Manuel Spider Man with his ability to maneuver inside of a tree. (he was alot lighter than me but lanky and strong, being a big guy like me is not good for climbing)
So, our relationship grew and most times climbing and cutting was a competition and I would often hear "I got done before you". Usually that was true but I was often able to send a jab back his way on occasion. On this day in question I was the only climber and the tree was by live conductors which adds to the stress. Tree Removal in Tucson is difficult enough without an added risk of dying. Up in the tree, cutting, the pressure was on me to perform and when that is the case I usually crank up the already high pressure on our crew. On this particular tree I was rope and pulleying everything to the ground which requires multiple attach points which we often rig with a long red pruning pole that has a metal hook on it. It allows us to reach our rope out and pull it back after wrapping around a branch. This method is almost exclusively used for difficult Tree Removal in Tucson as Tree Trimming limits how much climbing that can be done due to gaffs not being used because they puncture the cambium layer.
Anyhow, tired and alone in a tree, about 50 feet in the air, my pole slipped from my belt and down to the ground it went. Its hard to understand unless your a tree climber but it is exhausting. The last thing i wanted to do is climb down lower to reach the pole or re rig my ropes to use them as a pulley. "Manuel! Throw me my pole!" I hollered. Manuel threw it straight up in the air in my direction coming up short and the pole went back down to the ground. Each time I twisted my body in pain trying to grab the pole just out of my reach. After about 3 tries, and increasing frustration, It was time to give him a competitive jab "Come on what are you a weakling?" I hollered.
What a mistake that was.
All the competition came out in Manuel and his next throw was his best. Looking down at him from high in the tree I expected it to come up short again. Leaning over in anticipation the pole was launched like a missile and as I looked down and readied myself to grab it, it flew harder than I could even imagine. By the time my hands grabbed the pole it had already smashed directly into my nose. Blood instantly came out and "ouch!, that hurt!" was my only response. I sat up there in pain and Manuel grew strangely quite wondering how mad I was at him. Fortunately for him I had to climb and cut my way back down the tree and by the time I reached the bottom I was no longer mad and could see how I provoked him to try a little too hard.
Tree Service in Tucson is an adventure and while many Tree Cutting Arborist's take it easy on your dime we have a different motto. Honest Work for Honest Pay. Manuel later passed away from an unrelated accident (not at work) and lately I have been thinking back on him, missing the competition we once shared. Nowadays I remember well to watch out for the red pole when it comes flying because it could break your nose.
This is a real picture of Manuel, not photo shopped. He was one of those guys that took pride in being the strongest. Always willing to take on any challenge he was a special person that Chris and Amanda's Tree Service feels blessed to have had the pleasure of working with.