Have you seen this show? It's called "30 Days" and it's on the FX channel. I caught it lastnight just as I was crawling into bed, and I couldn't take my eyes off of it. In a nutshell, it's a show that documents some of the worlds most dangerous jobs and lastnight, they documented coal mining. I am a miner's daughter, did you know that? This is where my Daddy works:
That is his office. My Dad has been an underground miner for roughly 35 years now, maybe even a little longer. He has worked in several different mines throughout his life, including mines in Washington, Nevada, and Michigan. He's not a coal miner though, as many get confused, and yes- there is a difference. My Dad mines for mainly silver and zinc. Oh, and of course gold if you can find it, and oil if you shall strike it! But that rarely happens.
He now works at the Lucky Friday Mine (pictured above) and he will probably remain there until he retires in 5 years. The depth of this mine reaches 6200 feet, and you can bet, most miners have touched the bottom at one point or another. There is literally an elevator shaft (not what you're imagining) that takes them up and down, and there are hundreds of tunnels that they work in. Hundreds. It boggles my mind that my Dad goes into the ground, every day, in extreme weather conditions where anything can happen, anything, and he has never even flinched. He wears what they call "diggers." His fancy work outfit consists of grimy old t-shirts, long johns, overalls, wool socks, boots, goggles, and of course, a hard hat. He gets so filthy that Dawn dishsoap is his shampoo of choice. He rubs vaseline over his eyes to get the gunk out, and then scrubs his nails with a brillow pad if he's taking my stepmom out to dinner. He eats his lunch and even drinks coffee down there. (I used to pack his lunches for him and would put notes in his lunch box with knock knock jokes, figured he needed some sort of entertainment!) But beyond all that, he works his behind off and always has. I didn't grow up in a huge house and he may not have sent me to college, but I'll tell you something, I never went without a good meal, the best healthcare, or a cozy home. He made damn sure of that. That's my Dad.
I am truly ashamed to admit this, but sometimes it's difficult to tell people what he does for a living...what he has done all his life to take care of his family. I mean, it's not the most glamorous job to say the very least. But then, I catch myself feeling guilty for the tiny twinge of shame I might experience, because I shouldn't ever feel that way about what he does. It's by far the most dangerous job on earth in my opinion, and my Dad does it without worry, without complaint, and most of all, without shame. I don't think he's ever felt ashamed. How many people can say that?
30 Days highlighted some coal miners in West Virginia. Some of them were fresh out of high school, some were middle aged with young children, and some were in their own words,"I'll probably die right here in this mine." These were honest, hard working, dedicated men who never miss a shift, never call in sick, don't expect vacation days, and certainly don't talk back to the boss. They take pride in their work and are true providers for their families. I know that some people heckle them for the way the look, covered in black dust from head to toe. People call them "stupid" and think that coal mining should be "done away with" and "who needs it?" It's those people who are stupid. It's those people who simply don't realize that without coal, and without the minerals that my Dad busts his ass for, we wouldn't have the technology and other luxuries that we have and take for granted. Imagine leaving your spouse a "just incase note" every morning before walking out the door. "Just incase, you know....I love you. Always have." If any kind of mining was so unnecessary, do you really think these men would risk their lives doing it? Would my own Dad after 35 years continue to put his health and life at risk, just to plunge a mile or deeper underground, anxious to spend the day surrounded by walls that with one wrong move could collapse at any second, because he's got nothing better to do?
I have always been proud of my Dad, always. It just made me that much prouder to see that documentary. I am a miner's daughter. Thanks Dad.
PS- Major props to my father-in-law who went down into the mine with my Dad to get the experience. Not too many people have the b*lls! Especially if they're not even getting paid!