Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I’ve been reading about the 33 trapped Chilean miners with great interest.

This story has so many threads to follow: the terribly hazardous work that miners do, made all the worse by the often lax safety standards; the technology that’s used to keep the life-line going; the contacts with family members, the videos; what the miners are eating, drinking, and asking for (toothbrushes!); and the attention and care going into the mental health of men who may be months from rescue.

May their physical and mental strength last, and may a bore hole wide enough to hoist them all through get drilled sooner than Christmas.

Buena suerte, a todos.

Personally, I’m someone who doesn’t mind confined spaces.

Every time I pass Brownie’s Cabins, a retro vacation spot in Wellfleet near my sister Kath’s summer home in Wellfleet, I make an as yet unkept vow to stay there some day.

My sister’s home is beautiful, comfortable and spacious, and Kath and her husband Rick are hosts par excellence (made all the better by Kath’s cooking, Rick’s wine cellar, and all those stacks of books for the taking).

Still, I long to spend at least one or two nights before I die in the confines of one of Brownie’s Cabins.

So it isn’t the confinement of the mine that would bother me.

It’s the lack of privacy, the idea of no shower for a few months, my panic at the thought of being without enough books to last.

And the concept of being marooned with 32 colleagues for months on end.

I used to think that the 5 day sales conference at a nice resort hotel was hell on earth. And at those you could always close the door to your room, put in ear plugs (the better to avoid the clamor of the sales force toga-party attendees marauding through the halls), and get into bed with a book.

Months sharing 530 square feet, plus a few blind alleys, with 32 fellow workers? Shudder, shudder.

Maybe if I could pick the best-of-the-best – four folks from this company, three from another. (You know who your are!  Maybe it would be fun for a while.)

But even then…

And what if you didn’t get to pick and choose?

What if I got trapped with the Material Girl, who would no doubt be having a nervous breakdown by Day Two at the idea of having to wear the same outfit so many times, let alone in a row? What if she wouldn’t shut up about having spent her $$$ bonus on a diamond and sapphire ring, when she should have spent it on a platinum oxygen tank?

What if B was one of the stuckees? He was one of those senior managers who managed to turn every company meeting into a finger-pointing exercise in which he blamed someone on his team for not delivering, whenever an even vaguely pointed question came his way. Would we have to listen to him, in his snide and passive aggressive manner, pin the blame on one of us for our fate – even when the blame should be pinned squarely on senior management?

And N? Who’d want forty days and forty nights of putting up with him buttering you up, just to learn that, minutes later, he was bad-mouthing you to the next guy?  And P, who was mean and had no sense of humor? J, who was always on the verge of stroking out at the thought that Hillary Clinton might be president – and who couldn’t shut up about it? Would being trapped in a mine somehow end up being Obama’s fault?

What would happen to  T if she figured out that, for the duration, we didn’t have to put up with her petty, fire-drill requests (I need to use your lap as a pillow)  – let alone her demand that managers get preferred space.

I liked D well enough, but he’d be putting such a smiley face on the situation that someone would no doubt smother him during our third night in captivity.

How about E, or M? Bet they’d figure out a way to save themselves!

Oh, those poor miners.  Hope they all like each other. Hope they can manage to hang out and on without going berserk.

Bad enough all those times when I felt metaphorically trapped at work.  Can you imagine being physically trapped?


katrog said...

Bet he's all over today's tabloid tidbit about the doctor who got stuck in the chimney of her on again-off again boyfriend's house as she was trying to break in--and died! (Just go google woman in chimney or check out the article on the Daily Beast.)

The possibilities are endless--Former patient: Yes, I could tell by the way her stethoscope looked like a noose that she would end up in some unsavory stalking incident that went bad.

Chimney sweep: I told that guy that someone could get stuck in there if they tried to go down feet first, but, no, would he spring for the squirrel screen? He would not.

And so on.

Maureen Rogers said...

Note: This comment should have been posted after the blog on Larry Garrison.