Life’s Ups And Downs

The alarm clock rings and I reach over to shut it off. Grabbing the remote on the bedside table I flick on the tv to the weather channel, to see what kind of day it’s going to be. I don’t know why I bother,… I know what kind of day it’s going to be. Dark.

Twenty minutes or so of infomercials, semi naked women, and twenty year old sit-come reruns, and I get dressed for work.

It’s cold and dark outside as I free the wipers, open the door, and start-up the jeep so it can warm up, while I brush the snow off that fell last night. It’s damp,…I shiver in the cold.

A couple of minutes later I jump into the cold seat, throw it into four-wheel drive, and head on down the road to Tim’s, for my early morning coffee/read/meditation.

People trickle in and out of the store. It’s amazing to me how many people are up at 5:00 am in the morning.

Time to go. I get a coffee for the road, point the jeep in the right direction, and suck on my coffee, in quiet contemplation on my way in to work.

Something unusual this morning. It seems the smelter has dumped a big load of molten slag out on the slag pile, and in the dark, it’s running down hill, flowing like a red river of liquid fire, just like lava from a volcano. Too cool!

It’s quiet and peaceful this morning. Semi dry roads, very little slush, guess it’s too cold to thaw.

I get to my first turn off and there’s a pickup truck on its side way down deep in the ditch. Black ice I guess. “Should have gotten four-wheel drive buddy!”

Driving through town I turn on to the private company road leading to work. Beautiful up here, with the river flowing beside the road, frost on the trees, and a fresh blanket of snow all around.

Another ten minutes and I pull into the parking lot. Snow all over the vehicles belonging to the night shift. I grab my lunch pail and head into the dry. I change out of my street clothes, stuff them into my locker and walk naked to the washroom to relieve myself of those two coffees.

It’s nice and warm in here, as it always is. I reach up and grab the chain for my basket and lower it, and my clothes down.

Long underwear, two pairs of socks, fire-retardant coveralls, muckers, safety vest, safety belt, tool pouches, safety glasses, hard hat, leather gloves.

Jesus,…can I carry any more crap?

Down the hall I grab my lantern and two-way radio out of the charger cradle, sign in on the contractor sheet, and make my way over to the shifters wicket to see whats up.

It’s the usual stuff, the communication and blast lines need to be extended closer to the face, and they want Dan and I to go to the 5000 level to disconnect power cables out of an old power rack in preparation for something.

Dan and I shoot the breeze while we are waiting for the cage, and he tells me he scored big in online poker last night. A couple of hundred dollars he says, and I’m thinking maybe I should be looking at a new career. The cage comes up and it’s show time.

Packed in like sardines. With my lunch pail between my legs and someone’s pail digging into my ass. The guys are happy though. Most guys are pretty good-natured first thing in the morning. Hell, what can go wrong this early?

The cage tender closes the door, gives the signal for the first level, and down we go. Levels, lights, rock, timbers and water fly by as we plummet into the depths. Goodbye world, see you again in ten hours,…I hope!

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