Seattle City (spot)Light: Webbie Jackson, Tool Room Custodian

The Basics
Years of Service: 33
Division: Transmission & Distribution Operations
Role: I purchase, repair, and order tools for the South Service Center tool room, where I’m based. I meet with crew chiefs and managers from transmission and distribution operations and throughout our utility to identify tool and equipment needs. I also procure vendors to conduct repairs and maintenance for our high and low voltage work and other test equipment, collaborating with the North Service Center tool room to provide consistency and maximize our inventory.

Background
Hometown:
Hermanville, Miss.
Alma Mater: Port Gibson High School. I studied at several technical colleges, Bates Technical, Renton Technical and South Seattle Community College, but am proud to boast that I graduated from one of the best auto mechanic schools in the south, “The Shade Tree Auto Mechanic School,” taught by my father.
Discipline/Trade of Study: Automobile mechanics
Tell us about your family: I am the sixth of eight children born in Hermanville, Miss. My father, the son of a poor sharecropper/farmer, received a third-grade education because he and his family had to dedicate their lives to working for their plantation owner. In addition to being a World War II veteran, a farmer, and a sawmill worker, he was one of the best self-trained electricians and shade tree automobile mechanics in our area. My brothers and I were right there, following in his footsteps, and learned responsibility, work ethic, and automobile service and repair at a young age. I drove cars and tractors at the age of 12. When I was 15, I worked a summer job cleaning bushes from the roadside and hauling hay, earning $300. I used that money to purchase a car’s shell and a rebuilt engine that my dad and I put together. It was a blue 1965 Chevy Impala that I drove in high school.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors and being able to work in different parts of the city. It is very exciting and rewarding to be an employee of Seattle City Light because it has provided all of that and more.”

Just for Fun
What brought you to Washington?
When I was in high school, I visited Tacoma to see my sister one summer and was amazed at the Evergreen State’s beauty. I was in awe of its giant Douglas fir trees, blue skies (when we see it), and the majestic snow-capped mountain peaks. (I had never seen trees line up the mountainside and down the other side like hair on a dog’s back). I couldn’t wait to visit Mount Rainier and have a snowball fight and ride an inner tube. We rarely had enough snow in Mississippi to make a snowball!

What are some of your favorite family memories and activities/hobbies? While flying home to visit my parents one Christmas holiday, I met the love of my life, my wife Barbara, at an altitude of 30,000+ feet on United Airlines. We celebrated our 40th anniversary on March 2 and are the proud parents of Ryan, Dana, Anthony, and Gregory. We’re also proud grandparents of five grandchildren—three adults, a preschooler, and a toddler who keeps us on our toes. We also have one great-grandson. I enjoy gardening, fishing, cooking, watching sports, and auto mechanics in my spare time.

If you could have any other job, what would it be and why? I would be a flight attendant. After high school, I completed training and got the job, but when they called me for a training flight, I became nervous and dropped out. There were a couple of flight crashes during that time, and I realized I would be in the air every day. I missed the travel opportunities that I had dreamed about.

What brought/attracted you to City Light? After graduation, I moved to Tacoma to go to auto mechanic school, but the waitlist had more than 500 people. Meanwhile, I worked at Nalley’s Fine Foods Cannery and then at a sandblasting company in Tacoma’s tide flats. It was a dirty job, so I returned to Nalley’s and got my license to become a long-haul driver. After I completed the course, Nalley’s sold their trucks and hired independent truckers. I started job hunting and applied at Seattle City Light, Metro, and the Seattle Water Department. Ironically, all three companies offered me a job within the same week. I chose City Light’s machine shop because I could use my mechanical hands-on skills and work in the outdoors. After 15 years in the machine shop, I became an electrical helper and moved to a material supplier with the line crews.