Thursday, October 23, 2008

Workin' in a Coal Mine

Here is another story from the request line....Laura, this is for you.

People are always surprised to hear that I worked in a coal mine one summer. I'm surprised that they are surprised the same way I was when I realized that a camel was a weird high school mascot. I honestly never thought about it until I got to college and people started laughing when they found out. I grew up in a mining community in Wyoming, where the high school mascot was a camel. Seemed normal to me.

Anyway, everyone and their dog worked for the mines in one way or another. My dad was not a miner. We had no direct connection with the mines. This wasn't an issue until it came time to find summer employment. My friends whose parents worked at the mine had the necessary connection to work at the mine. The job certainly wasn't glamorous, in fact and think freakin' scary and dangerous would best describe it. The drove trucks literally the size of my house, around filled with coal or dirt. Yikes. Oh, did I mention they got paid at least double what anyone else was making. Yeah, that's what made that job worth it, I remember now.

Anyway, I digress. The summer after my freshman year of college I was out looking for work. I was late coming home because I had stayed for first summer term at school. I had missed out on most of the summer work. I would have loved to drive truck for the mine, but my dad worked for the city and didn't believe in helping his children find work. Don't even get me started on that one.

I finally got a mine related job. I worked for an independent lab that contracted with the mine. My job was to analyze the coals content so it could be regulated. Translation: I had a job that was mindless and boring, I worked at the mine, but not for the mine so I made $4.00 less an hour than my friends driving the trucks. The work was dirty, dirty, dirty, and I had to wear a respirator so I didn't get the black lung. *cough*

One day I came home at end of a 12 hours shift, plus commute, and I was tired. I mean dog tired. I made my way down to my bathroom and prepared to embark on the de-coaling process. I swear that coal dust chemically fuses to the human skin. I think any of my coal mine workin' buddies could back my up on this one. You have to use a washcloth in order to make sure you get the dust off of your body. When the cloth was black, your face was not. You get the idea.

So this particular night, I was moving at a snail's pace and I got into the shower and started the cleaning process. I quickly realized that I had forgotten my wash cloth. I stood there for a minute debating whether to get out of the warm shower to get it or not. Being as worn out as I was, I decided to go manual. BIG MISHTAKE! (name that movie). So I started the vigorous scrubbing process. Things went fine on the body area because that was mostly covered with clothes during the day. The neck and face are another story. I loaded up my hands with face wash and just went to town. I mean, I was scrubbing hard. When all of a left pinky got shoved so far up my left nostril I thought I might have brain damage. I mean I was scrubbing furiously and all that force went straight up my poor nose. I screamed out in pain and dislodged the foreign object. My nose immediately started bleeding profusely, so much that I had to finish my shower with one hand plugging my nose.

I was more annoyed than anything, but after a little thought decided it was a pretty dang funny story. I mean really, who does these kind of things? So I write up the story and e-mail it to my friend Brad who gets an enormous kick out of anyone injuring themselves. As I'm writing the e-mail I am just laughing hysterically, and the more I think about it, the harder I laugh.

The next day at work I decide to tell my trainer about my experience. I figure she has probably had similar experiences, having worked at the mine a while and all. So I relate the whole hilarious tell, laughing myself silly in the process, and she never even cracks a smile. All she said at the end was," oh." as she looked at me questioning my mental competence. I guess I wasn't surprised, I mean she had the personality of a fence post, but come on. This is top quality stuff.

For whatever reason, her indifference to the story made it that much funnier to me. I laughed myself silly again recounting the story to Brad, whom I knew would appreciate the social blunder associated with sharing it. Picture in your mind telling someone a story that you KNEW was funny and them just looking at you like a moron. Classic, I tell you. Classic.

I learned a few things at the coal mine. 1) finish college 2) don't waste your best stories on the unappreciative.

Any dear readers...hold onto your knickers, soon to come

My mom is the devil
Shamu the 20 year old girl
And countless other stories of humilation

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Ketchup Family

Well, loyal followers, yes all four of you, I'm here with another classic story to brighten your day.

I was about 8 months pregnant with Mia and had just finished teaching summer school. They had given us some coupons for free chicken nuggets. We passed them out to the kids and kept a few for ourselves. This was fortunate because chicken nuggets were a staple in Brandon's diet at the time. Did I mention the coupons were for McDonalds chicken nuggets? For some inexplicable reason I LOVED McDonalds during my pregnancy. It was one of those love/hate things. One bite would make me gag and the next would be heaven. Weird.

Anyway, Dave, Brandon, and I go for a little family outing to McDonalds for a little free dinner. We order our nuggets and find a table. Our table placement is crucial to the story so let me describe. We chose one of the tables along the big long bench that lines an entire wall. They have several tables with chairs on the other side. Well I sat on the bench and Dave took the chair, Brandon was in the highchair in between us.

We start to eat our nuggets which Dave and Brandon are dipping in ketchup...gross. Dave drops a ketchup covered nugget mid bite. It rolls down his freshly cleaned white t-shirt, and I start to laugh. It is really funny how uptight he gets about these kind of things. Spills infuriate him for some reason, and it is so ridiculous that it cracks me up. This was one of those times. I am totally laughing and he looks up at me with his laser eyes and says, "Why would you laugh at that?" I didn't think he would appreciate "because it's funny," so I said, "I'm sorry honey *giggle* are you okay *giggle*giggle*?" He sits there doing his, I-think-I'm-acting-like-I'm-not-mad-at-you-but-I-am-mad-at-you-and-you-totally-know-because-you're-not-a-moron-and-can-read-body-language silent treatment. I continue to try and get a hold of myself.

Not two minutes later, Brandon drops an entire cup of ketchup down the front of him and onto the floor. Dave at least cracks a smile at this point. This is where the story gets interesting. I clean Brandon off, and then think, "I can't leave a whole cup of ketchup on the floor." Now keep in mind I am eight months pregnant. I go to bend over to pick up the ketchup cup off of the floor, and as I lean forward gravity takes over and I realize my bum is leaving my seat and not in a good way. I start to fall off the bench which is bolted to the wall into the table that is not bolted to the floor. The table groans loudly as it crashes into Dave under my pregnant weight. As I fall forward I also scream at the top of my lungs. I hit the floor with my left hand square in the ketchup cup. The interesting thing is I ended up with ketchup on my knee as well, when there was no ketchup even in the knee region of the floor. To make matters worse, I end up wedged under the table and in my huge pregnant awkwardness, I can't get myself up.

With no shortage of commotion, I finally un-wedge myself from under the table. By the time I return to my seat, face blazing, there are about 600 people staring at me. I was pregnant and unstable and practically in tears at this point. Keep in mind not two minutes ago Dave was livid with me for laughing when he dropped a nugget on himself. What does my loving husband say to the woman who is carrying his child? No, not "oh honey, are you alright?" He said, laughing, and I quote, "WHAT THE CRAP ARE YOU DOING?!?!?" What does he mean, what the crap am I doing? I falling on the ground and humiliating myself, what does it look like I'm doing?

I tell him I am going to wash my hands in the bathroom, and huff off. When I had cleaned and composed myself I returned to the table. I calmly asked him, "Honey, why would you ask me what I was doing when it was obvious that I was falling on my face in a crowded room full of people?" He proceeded to explain that he didn't know why I was cleaning up the ketchup when they pay people to do that. He couldn't understand why I was bending over. I said, "In all the time you've known me, have I ever screamed at the top of my lungs as I have bent over to clean something up?" He didn't have much to say about that.