Insomnia has a certain dreamlike quality to it. I woke up after midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I thought I’d catch up on the headlines. Wow, I thought. All those miners safe! And Alan and I were just saying how sure we were that they were dead. It’s a miracle.
Then I woke up, hours later, and they were dead, all but one.
Someone — a lot of someones — got some bad information.
For once, I’m not blaming reporters. The management of this mine sounds like a real piece of work.
I went to college in southeastern Ohio, which is coal country. One of my roommates dated a miner, a young guy drawn to the work for the usual reasons. No, reason: It paid handsomely. And that was about the last good thing you could say about it. Medieval working conditions, punishing hours, danger around every corner and lots and lots of money. And since that’s about the only job that pays well in Appalachia, there’s no shortage of people willing to do it.
This guy my roommate dated? He took a shower when he reached the surface after a shift. He took another when he got home. Sometimes he took a third at our place, if he was sleeping over. And he still left black streaks on her sheets.
Best book about coal mining (fiction division): Martin Cruz Smith’s “Rose.”
May they all rest in peace.
Why Midwesterners flock to Florida all winter — it gets dark here:
“I just got off the phone with the National Weather Service,” Hugh McDiarmid Jr. said. “Guess how much sunshine we’ve had since Dec. 19.”
“In hours?” I asked.
“Wrong unit of measure,” he said.
“Less than one hour?”
Hell, it’s character-building.
Who is Jack Abramoff? Don’t ask the WSJ.