It was only three guys. Three working stiffs that no one ever heard of, other than their family, friends, and co-workers. Just three guys.
But they went to work on Tuesday figuring, I'm sure, that they were heading into another day of same old/same old. Except, maybe for the new guy, the kid. Only 20 years old, Matthew Indeglia had been on the job only one full day. Tuesday was his second day at work.
Looking around at the fellows he was working with that day - Phillip Robinson and Mark Mansfield, Matthew might have been thinking that he had it made. Those guys had been working at the Salem (Massachusetts) Harbor Power Plant for twenty or so years. A lifetime. Matthew Indeglia's twenty year lifetime, in fact.
These were good job. Pay the mortgage, feed the kids, vacation at Hampton Beach, 'how about that kid Papelbon' kind of jobs. The blue collar, lunch bucket jobs that have gone so far away, most guys would count themselves lucky to have them.
Well, on Tuesday a boiler blew, and these three regular guys were killed in what can only be imagined as a hideous and painful death. And they didn't die instantly. No, they had to suffer for a while - the accident was in the morning and they all died overnight.
I have been by the Salem Harbor Power Plant many times. My sister lives in Salem, and the plant is on the way to The Willows, a throw-back little park with fried dough stands,; arcades with everything from skee-ball, to virtual car racing, to wack-a-mole, to the 10 cent monkey band; hot dogs, ice cream, and salt water taffy at Howe's; a few tawdry kiddie rides; and the world's most difficult to dismount merry-go-round. It's also go shaded picnic groves, a bandstand where they have corny concerts in the summer, and a scabby little beach.
In other words, The Willows is absolutely marvelous.
I can imagine that The Willows is the kind of place that the two older guys might have taken their kids. When they went by the power plant, the kids would have said "That's where Daddy works." And everyone in the car would have been proud.
I can imagine that The Willows is the kind of place that young Matthew Indeglia might have taken a date next summer. You see them there all the time. Young couples with cotton candy and the cheap junk you win with the tickets you accumulate in the arcades.
It's easy to take things like our power supply for granted, but keeping it going can be dangerous work.
One good thing about the switch to a more techno and services oriented economy is that a lot of the dangerous jobs go away.
Sure, white collar folks can get killed on the job - generally this happens when a colleague goes postal. But there's nothing inherently dangerous about most of the work we do.
Not so for those who work in plants. Who work on power lines. Who fish, who farm, who put out fires.There's a lot of risky business out there that doesn't involve hedge funds and subprime lending, carpal tunnel syndrome and screen fatigue.
Sad day for the folks at Salem Harbor Power Plant.
Three guys with pretty good jobs just got very, very unlucky.