Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Can I Trade "Worst Days Of My Life" With That Guy?

I was born in West Virginia. Never really lived there (the first six months of your life aren’t really living—they’re nearly 100% dependent on others to move you along), but I have tons of family that do. And yes, I’ve got family that work in coal mines, and I’ve had family die in coal mines and because of coal mines.

So, obviously, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the families and friends of those 12 miners that lost their lives in that mine explosion in West Virginia. I also share their rage at the numbskulls in charge of the Sago Mine, those imbeciles who leaked that crushing false hope, so excited that their corporate asses might actually be covered and eager to trumpet their one good deed, drowning out the cries of ‘unsafe workplace’.

Again, I haven’t lived in West Virginia enough speak to exactly how potent the fear of losing a loved one in a coal mine is. I’ve got to think it’s like living with a policeman or firefighter, or a soldier—you know there may be one day that your loved one doesn’t come home from work. You acknowledge it, you live with it, you brace yourself a little each day so that if something bad happens, you won’t just disintegrate from the news.

So what happens when your fear is realized? That, my friends, is the worst day of your life. What happens when your fear is realized, then you get whiplashed by a freaking miracle, and your fear is erased for another day (or a few hours in this case)? It’s still probably the worst day of your life, if only because it contained the worst minutes of your life, and isn’t totally erased by the good news. What happens when your fear is realized, then you’re whiplashed by a freaking miracle, and then you get everything taken away from you again times a thousand, and your time to grieve instead is taken up by rage? Well, apparently, then it just becomes the worst day in someone else’s life, in this case Ben Hatfield, chief executive officer of Sago Mine owner International Coal Group. He actually said, “Welcome to the worst day of my life.”

Please spare me, Impending Civil Lawsuit Defendant Hatfield. Any day that you get to keep living alongside your family and friends, any day that you don’t have the rug pulled out from under your whole universe not once but twice can’t possibly be the worst day of your life. In fact, I’d wager a day like that would be the best day of a lot of people’s lives in Tallmansville , West Virginia.


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