Dumb and Dumber

by kfrego

We have all encountered examples of stupidity that were so outlandish they will forever be a part of our memories. One of my favorites happened while working graveyard shift underground at the Gold Run gold mine. My crew had ten men including the mechanic in the shop. We kept busy all night driving the tunnels and doing all the support work required to keep operations running smoothly. We often accomplished the odd jobs which were very impactive to do on day shift, but easy to schedule in on nights.

It was about three in the morning on a typical shift. Our night had been progressing well. My crew was split between drilling and blasting production tunnel rounds, removing the muck from previous blasted drill outs, and doing some safety rock bolting with wire mesh on a new cross cut tunnel. All of the activities were normal jobs the miners accomplished on a daily basis. The three man crew doing the rock bolting consisted of a miner, miners helper, and mucking machine operator. They were all lined out and should finish the job in about an hour. We had rock bolted the area where they were working as the tunnel was mined a few weeks before. They were installing wire mesh on the existing bolts and drilling and installing additional bolts to keep the mesh tight against the rock. The wire mesh would prevent the ground from dribbling small rocks and becoming troublesome in the future. They worked out of the eight yard mucker bucket to drill and install their bolts and mesh.

While inspecting one of the working tunnels, the mucker operator from the rock bolt crew came walking up. He explained the miner had sent him to tell me he needed a ladder. After a short conversation he assured me nothing had caved in, the mucker was running fine, and he had no idea why they needed a ladder. Something wasn’t right. We went back to the work area and the miner and his helper were drilling away. They were almost ready to tighten up the mesh and be finished. Everything looked normal. They finished the hole and I asked why they needed a ladder. The miner stated they had several bolts installed with the drill that needed plates and nuts on them to pull the mesh tight. They couldn’t reach the holes because they were in an area of the crown of the tunnel which was several feet higher. I had him explain it to me again because something was not right. He was serious. With no way to contain my anger, I exploded. Working in the bucket of a $300,000 hydraulic mucking machine and this idiot wants a $30 ladder to reach three feet higher. When I asked if he ever considered raising the mucker bucket his face went blank. I spun on my heel and headed down the tunnel shaking my head. How did this guy ever find his way back and forth from home to work?

My temper flared…….but the idiot didn’t get tramped until he finished the job.