It started as a casual conversation with a fellow who looked lost but wasn’t. Turned out the fellow was just waiting to meet a friend in the Central Maine Power parking lot in Skowhegan where Jim Wright worked as a lineman.

“We chatted for a little while (before the man asked), ‘How’d you like to be in a commercial?'” said Wright.

Why not?

After reading for the camera with 40 other people, CMP picked Wright for its company commercial in 1992.

His family coached him in advance: Drop the accent. So he tried. After several takes and advice to be himself, “No line is safe to touch, evah” was born.

Wright grew up all over New England and spends a lot of spare time in the woods as a master Maine guide and a maple sugar entrepreneur. He has 125 taps for his Apple Ridge Sugar Shack operation.

Within CMP, Wright’s been a meter reader, a line worker and now, transmission supervisor. He started with the company 30 years ago, in 1984, as a fresh-faced 21-year-old.

Somehow he’s still a fresh-faced 51. How’s he do it? Well, read on.

Name: Jim Wright

Age: 51

Lives: (hometown) Cornville, Maine

What’s an average day on the job like? We work a 10-hour day that starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. The daily work could take us anywhere from Kittery to Houlton to maintain approximately 3,000 miles of lines that make up our transmission system. When we are on the job, we travel the transmission rights-of-way on tracked off-road equipment, replacing pole structures and insulators to avoid interruptions to our customers. When a storm rolls in, a workday can extend to as much as 17 hours. When we have a problem on the transmission lines, we will patrol the line on foot or on ATVs. When weather allows, we can also fly a helicopter with an inspector over the line to find the problem to let ground crews know where to make repairs as quick as possible.

Flash back to the 1998 Ice Storm — what pops into your head? The strongest memory is the great Maine people and how they were looking out for their neighbors by moving generators from house to house without power. They would always stop at our work sites and offer the line crews hot coffee or home-baked cookies and muffins.

You’re home. Your power goes out. What do you do? (Head into work? Grab flashlights? Fire up your generator?) I find during bad weather that I am always working when the power is out at my house.

Does it happen often that people see you and say, “No line is safe to touch, evah”? All the time! Either I will get “you look familiar” or “your voice gives you away.”

Strangest place you’ve been recognized: The strangest place has to be when we were going on vacation to Jamaica and we made a transfer at Puerto Rico airport. I was at the counter talking to the person about the next flight when a couple behind us asked if we were from Maine? I replied “Yes” and the next question was “Are you the CMP guy?” I said yes again. Then they said “Oh my god, say that line you say all the time on TV!” So I responded, “No line is safe to touch, EVAH!”

Your best advice for electrical safety: Always treat downed wires as HOT and stay clear of them at all times for your safety. Only trained line personnel should be moving them or working on them.

Your best advice to a would-be maple sugarer: You may think that maple sugaring season comes around the same date as past years, but I have learned that in reality it’s Mother Nature that holds the answer to the schedule! So roll with the season and make the best of the warmer days.

Over 20 years in commercials and you still look the same. Your secret to aging so well? It has to be the great outdoor Maine living! It’s a beautiful state we live in, so I take every chance I can to go out and enjoy it! We have four great seasons in the state that have a lot to offer for recreation.

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