Carys Weldon Blog

Friday, July 14, 2006

Scary Phone Call

So, don't you hate scary phone calls?

I do.

My husband called me last night. Now, remember he's a gold miner--which is one of the most dangerous professions in the world.

My husband is a mountain among men. Big, strong Italian. Strong, silent type. Very self-assured about what he does. He's won three world records in his field.

So, when I answer and his voice is shaking, I know something bad happened.

The phone lines on the remote job he's on are crappy. The connection goes in and out sometimes, and crackles...and he's hard of hearing anyway. But, it isn't the connection that's the problem. It's him.

He sounds like he's just happy to hear my voice, and he tries to be normal. (okay, are any of us normal?) He asks what I've been up to. I tell him I went to a free tarot class my friend Linda offers. (Maiden of Mysteries, She amazes me, I'm tellin' ya.

He says, "Oh. Was that good?"

But, I'm thinking...his voice sounds way, way shaky...I say, "Yeah. How was your day?"

"Well, I--uh...about bit the dust."

"Excuse me?"

This is my greatest fear...that he'll be maimed or killed. Slabs of rock fall from the sky all the time underground.

"I'm all right."

The man doesn't sound all right. I'd swear he was almost ready to cry. And that ain't his usual deal. Ya know?

"You don't sound all right. What happened? Are you hurt?"

He's the kind've guy that would tell them to put the phone to his face so he could talk to me, while they were carrying him out with a stretcher, so I'd hear it from him before someone else gave me the worst news. I'm shaking now.

I could go on with this, because he dragged it out. Didn't want to tell me the particulars while I was driving. But...a 200 TON slab of rock came down on him while he was "mucking." Which is scooping up ore/rock after they've dynamited it out of the solid rock--you know, to make more tunnel. Before they put the bolts and mesh in that hold the rest of it up.

A mucker is what they call the (front end) loader--that is used to scoop up and haul the ore out, or to ore cars on a loki (mini train.) You can see some pretty good pictures of mining/muckers at: Although this is not my husband's jobsite, the pictures are good. The place looks cleaner than any mine site I've ever been on. And the mucker my husband runs, I think, was a 20,000 ton vehicle--bigger than the ones in the pictures. (Maybe I'm wrong. Could have to edit/correct that when he reads this.)

You can see from the pictures, there's no room to run if the "rib" (top) or face (back end) of the tunnel falls in. I guess the 200 ton slab landed square on his mucker--which, fortunately had an enclosed cab on it. Lots of them don't. Miners cut them off sometimes, so they can see what's above them, so they can get the heck out if it starts to move.

He said he thought he was dead. You can hear it about ten seconds before it falls. Just enough time to know it's gonna come down. Not usually enough time to get out of the way. He says you have enough time to say, "Oh, God!" and that's about it.

Anyhow, he swears he's gonna be all right and is all right, and isn't hurt too bad. Says the mucker was at just the right angle/far enough in and out from the rock--to protect him. Another foot or so either way, and it would have crushed him. But it landed in a way that the roll cage held firm...enough for him to walk away. He had to crawl out.

And walk up the drift (tunnel) to find someone...said he was pretty shaky...I asked, "What did you say to the first person you found?"

(His sense of humor) "Hey, you better come look. I got a little problem...There's a rock on my mucker. "

He says the guys on the job are avoiding him like he's got the plague. He's real tense, so tight his muscles hurt. Swears that it's from tension, not being hit by rock.

I say...those guys are probably all facing their makers. The thing is...Tony has lived a charmed life when it comes to the job. He's been in a lot of bad situations, but he always walks away. (Cross your fingers, knock on wood, and pray to God--that he keeps the luck.)

But, I guess there's been a parade down there to look at what he walked away from. I guess most are lucky it was Tony, the man with the luck. Somebody else, (them), would have been killed, most like.

I say, "Come home. Don't work there. The only thing important to me is YOU. (him) Get on a plane. No one will blame you if you retire (again). Tell them it shook you up and you need laid off (collect unemployment)."

But...he said he's gonna stay to the end of rotation anyway. Maybe look for another job between here and there. Alot of mining jobs are found, and hire arranged via emails, phone calls, and word of mouth.

Anyhow, I didn't sleep all night--for worrying about him, wishing I could put my arms around him and hold him. Here's the sweet of it...before we hung up from our phone call, I said that I wanted to do that. And his voice, still a little shaky, but calmer from talking to me for a bit, said, "Me, too, hon. That's all I want right now. For you to put your arms around me."

I wanted to cry. Tears came to my eyes. My voice caught. "Me, too." (I know, I repeated myself.)

"I just want to curl up next to you," he said. "But...(regret crackled)...I'm real tired and I gotta go lay down." They have phone limits up there. Fifteen minute conversations. Our time was up. Normally, the miners are lined up, chomping at the bit to get to the phone. But last night, no one was around him.

That bothered him, I think--that no one talked to him. Miners are usually a rowdy (sorta ornery/mean) crowd. If it hadn't been a "by the grace of God you're alive" thing, and a mucker had gotten torn up, they'd have laughed it off and ribbed with stuff like, "Ah, tearing up company equipment again, eh?"

Response would be "It was my turn!"

Miners are always tearing something up. Or taking something home. If it ain't nailed down...Not that my husband's a thief...anymore. ;) I'm pretty adamant about...a wrench is not worth bucking a felony for, buddy--take that back. Got that straightened out about twenty years ago. But, really, the whole lot of miners are hard on equipment, and quick to take what appears free for the hauling.

Anyhow, this morning, I'm feeling very lucky to still have my husband, and more antsy than usual, even, to see him again and put my arms around him. I literally spent the whole night praying in thanks and in protection prayers for my whole family. When I drifted off, I'd wake up, hearing a voice--in my head--me--praying again. So, my whole spirit was in tune with the need to be assured by a higher power that my family was safe and intact and would remain so.
So, let me urge you to look around. Remember that there is nothing in this life more important than the people you care about. Take time to tell them you love them. Touch them--hug them--and be grateful they're within arms' reach. I swear, life is about loving, and getting your priorities straight. Are you giving the most to those who matter the least? Are you saying the words to those who are important to you, so they know how you feel about them? Or have you taken them for granted?

I kissed my baby girl on the head last night--the one that was almost killed last fall--and hugged her tight and said, "I love you. Thanks for being here." She hugged me back, and hung on for a second longer than required. "I love you, too, Mom."

Is there anything sweeter?

EDIT TO THIS POST, 3 hrs after initial posting...this is weird:
So, in my inability to focus on a ms/writing phase this morning, I spent three hours in my inbox and surfing around. I decided to take my own advice about remembering what is important (Who is important) and so I went to my yahoo to see what movies were playing in our area and I came across today's horoscope for me. (Taurus) It said:

If you feel like you've been working too hard just to keep things going well in both your personal and professional life, stop and consider something important: Do you need to give them equal attention in your life? You mean well with this quest for perfect balance, but it may be futile. You have to put your life in order of your priorities. Separate your personal life from your career, and spend more time with the people you love. If you create an imbalance, it's for all the right reasons.

That said, I'm going to the movies. And I'm gonna get really crazy and let my daughter have the joy of driving. Yeah.

Posted by CarysWeldonblog :: 5:50 AM :: 1 Comments:

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I'm so glad he's okay. This would scare me to death.

Your husband always sounds like a wonderful person, btw. I have one of those myself and count myself lucky daily.

BTW, not many people are commenting out there lately, so don't take it personally. I don't know what's up. I thought for sure I'd get ragged about yesterday's post since it's so tragically romantic and it's vewwwwwy quiet...

By Blogger Rinda Elliott, at 7:56 AM  

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