By: Rebecca Mazzarella – Lead Writer, PSE&G
Living in Mount Vernon, New York, Jean Mereau knew getting to and from work in PSE&G’s Clifton, New Jersey, operations center might be a challenge. Yet, he took the challenge head on because he knew PSE&G was a great place to work and worth the extra time in traffic, often away from his family.
“I started working here in April 2009 as a lineman,” said Mereau, who was born in Haiti. “I had worked for another utility and my friends recruited me to join the team. I started in overhead working on major projects and never regretted making the move.”
His fellow linemen would often tease him for taking extraordinary measures to ensure he made it to work on time.
“With the traffic being so unpredictable, I had to do something to make sure I made it to my next shift, and if that meant sleeping in my car, then that’s what I would do,” said Mereau. “They used to say they were going to charge me rent because I would sleep there so often!”
Being on time and meeting commitments is something his father instilled in him at a young age.
“My father always told me to ‘invest in your job and never be late; you have to have a good work ethic to make it. Don’t give them an opportunity to judge your character by being late to work,’” said Mereau.
If you think driving from Mount Vernon, New York, to Clifton, New Jersey, and sleeping in his car showed commitment, Mereau took it to the next level during Superstorm Sandy. His sister was giving him a ride into work just as traveling started to get dangerous – so dangerous that police were considering closing the George Washington Bridge. Knowing his sister needed to get back into the city, Mereau didn’t want to risk her getting stuck on the New Jersey side. He had his sister drop him off at the bridge, and he walked the rest of the way – not just across the bridge, but all 13-miles to Clifton. A trip that normally takes about 30 minutes to drive took about four hours on foot.
“I was soaking wet when I got there, but never once thought of calling someone at the division to pick me up; I knew they were short on guys, and I didn’t want to bother them. I looked at it as a challenge that I knew I could endure.”
When asked why he would go to such extreme measures and chose to be a lineman, Mereau said it’s because he likes helping people.
“I think being a lineman is just as important as being a doctor and is one way I can help others,” said Mereau. “I’ve always liked playing with gadgets, and in high school I found out basic electricity was my strength. I learned to respect electricity and how to work with it safely.”
Now, as a troubleshooter, Mereau works 12-hour shifts responding to reports of outages and making repairs so that power can be restored. “In addition, my schedule allows me to volunteer as an Auxiliary Police Officer in Mount Vernon,” he said. “It’s just another way I can help people and try to make a difference.”