What did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I could always picture myself as a teacher. My favourite subject at school was Home Economics – so I pictured myself as a Home Ec teacher. Given my hobbies – sewing, knitting, cross-stitch (very rarely these days!), baking, and gardening, that’s not too bad a fit. I even went so far as to study the right subjects at Uni. I lasted less than three weeks before realising it just was not me. I switched papers, got a BA in English and Art History, and went on to become a teacher anyway.
In between I did lots of other jobs: I sold stuff – electrical and plumbing goods mostly. I worked in an office. I was a telephonist. I cleaned houses. Mostly these were just jobs to get by on. To pay the bills. They were okay. Sometimes I worked funny hours – split shifts were always a challenge. Working until 3am on New Years’ Eve answering calls for a taxi company certainly was, erm, fun. I even managed to set a new record for the most number of calls taken in one hour that night.
But never has my job put me in danger.
On Friday afternoon, 31 men were down a mine at Pike River in Greymouth, when a massive explosion took place. Two escaped with their lives. The others? Until yesterday there was hope that some were trapped, and that a rescue may be effected. Yesterday afternoon a second massive explosion rocked the mine, ending any hope of a miraculous rescue.
These men were husbands, partners, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, and friends. Some had years of experience in mines. One was a 17 year old on his first day at work. All of them had chosen to work in the mine. Their loss to their families is utterly tragic. The loss to the communities on the West Coast is tragic too. Some were civic minded – a local councillor was lost that day. Some were talented sportsmen. One was an expectant father. One was engaged, to be married next month.
With each individual, is a terrible loss. My heart goes out to each family who is grieving.
With these losses, the country is in mourning. 29 men, gone. Flags flew at half mast today, to recognise the spirit of mourning in the community. I hope, along with the rest of the country, that their bodies can soon be recovered so that their families can bury them and mourn their loss with some sense of finality. Until then, this tragedy will weigh heavily on the minds and hearts of all New Zealanders.
It really does make you think about the choices that you make in life though.
One day, they got up and went to work. They had chosen their employment, a job which, from the accounts, many loved. Felt called to. Satisfied in. Other miners who were not in the mine that day still love and are committed to mining. For some, it was what they wanted to do when they grew up.