Archive for October, 2010

Miners: A Rare Breed

October 17, 2010

The average person can’t imagine themselves going underground to earn a living. Underground is where we get to go when we die. For a rare group it is their daily routine, and though the recent Chilean disaster was another reminder about the one thing in life most of us are fearful of, it also showed that 33 miners are truly a rare breed. They survived. Their instincts were right on, their special-nish showed up.

It also showed that mines are not tiny tunnels and they don’t burrow in the ground like ground hogs. I think the old movies of coal mines gave us the wrong idea.

Not to say for a minute that the Chilean mine was being run properly. Maybe now they’ll work to code.

The mining industry is important to our economy here in Canada. It provides many families with an excellent living and life style.

Found mostly in the Northern reaches of Canada, people don’t usually get a glimpse of what it’s really like.

I grew up in mining towns. My Dad sank many new shafts and was fortunate to survive a few accidents, where some others didn’t. He always operated from a position of safety first, but working underground with explosives, water, the unforeseen, a moment of inattention, was always a challenge and of course when an accident happened there were often fatalities. No different than bridge building or tunneling of any kind.

Elmer (my Dad) always used the term “my men”. It was familiar to me and I never thought of it as patronizing. I never thought of it at all, until recently.Now I understand the teamwork and the responsibility he felt to keep “his men” safe.

Taxi drivers probably live more dangerously and are at a greater risk than miners.

My Mother was always aware of the possibilities. She was a city girl, so she probably started out fairly optimistic (ignorance is bliss), and as time went on and she counted off the fatalities and the times Dad had a narrow miss…she said that she never let him go off to work, angry words said. I think that’s a lesson to all of us in relationships. Mend fences.

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