News: Telephone buddies: An ever-growing friendship
YUMA, Ariz. - Some people notice boot prints on the linoleum of station workplaces. At the telephone office, there are track marks.
James Verness, a station telecommunications assistant, must use a wheelchair to get around.
Verness, a Yuma native, lost the use of his legs following a diving accident in 1979.
Two factors helped Verness in adjusting to the event that changed his life.
"In high school, I worked for teams reaching out to help out in town," he said. "We worked with physically and mentally disabled kids and young adults. And I had a good family, they gave me a lot of support," he said.
Verness also has something of tremendous importance in his life.
"We're best friends. Have been since I've been here," said Michael Harrison, a telecommunications specialist and a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who came aboard the station after Verness. "That was the first time I ever saw anybody in a wheelchair."
"He doesn't let anyone ride it," Harrison added with a straight face.
"I'm very selfish," said Verness in confirmation.
Both men are prior service and both men share the same wicked sense of humor, the latter which both say solidified their friendship.
"I think it's more to do because we have that good sense of humor," said Harrison.
"When I'm out sick he works at my desk because it's easier for him to do [my job] than the Marines," said Verness.
"And I get accused of messing everything up when he returns," added Harrison. "I think we work as a team in this building."
Like the telephone office as a whole, both men are responsible for ultimately ensuring a constant means of communication among the station and the more distant Canon Air Defense Complex.
"Nobody would place any phone calls with the exception of [the Air Traffic Control tower]," said Harrison when asked what would happen if anything went wrong.
Sometimes, to relieve stress, the pair will kid with each other because comedy comes to the pair as naturally as breathing.
"I'll be on the phone," said Harrison. "I'd ask him to stand by and he'd say, 'you know I can't stand.'"
"I won't take a walk with you, I'll roll," said Verness.
For the two, their relationship has become as thick as blood.
"My family has more or less adopted him as a brother," said Verness.
The laughter, the ribbing, the closeness, all help the two go about their business.
"If I didn't laugh about it, I'd be depressed," said Verness, as he gloved up and rolled out the door.
Date Posted:04.10.2012 12:41
Location:YUMA, AZ, US
Hometown:CLEVELAND, OH, US
Hometown:YUMA, AZ, US
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