I'd seen him hanging around my school's office, a PTA volunteer selling school uniforms and such. Dozens of mothers do this but a dad is unusual. When I introduced myself he told me he was not just a volunteer but the group's president. "Wow", I said adding, "How do you find the time to help so much?" He told me quietly, "I have my own business, I am a flagpole specialist".
I have dozens of questions for people like Scott. I learned that the Peterson family, "Peterson & Son", has been in business for 89 years. His wife, Arelys, (also a school volunteer) takes the calls and he climbs the poles. With over 400 Miami-Dade schools as clients alone, he stays busy.
Most poles have problems with the pulleys at the top. If it breaks or the rope gets a kink, your flag isn't going anywhere. In bad neighborhoods vandals steal the rope. There's only one way to get the new one back on top.
Fifty years a school principal might send a kid like me, rope in teeth, climbing to the top. Heck, we used to do that in Boy Scouts as a part of a fitness test. It was exhilarating up there plus you had the thrill of sliding down.
That isn't allowed anymore. School rules and lawyers looking for business stopped that. Scott is the only licensed contractor in the county that maintains flag poles.
Want one of your own? He can install them too. His clients are schools, government buildings, and residents who prefer to fly Old Glory properly.
I asked him why he doesn't use a hydraulic "cherry-picker" to hoist himself up. Peterson pointed out that they're expensive and not always easy to maintain adding, "Taking my time I can climb a 30-footer in five minutes. I have cherry-picker competition but those people take twice as long to show up and charge twice as much".
"Can you do this forever?", I asked. He told me his dad climbed flagstaffs until he was 82. "He only stopped because I made him", Scott added.
Our school's pole is having pulley problems. If Tuesday's weather is good my students will be cheering as Mr. Peterson heads up. Who knows, it may inspire one of us to take up a new profession.