Today is the day we set aside to celebrate workers, those dudes and dudettes who are out there working the hard hours at grinding jobs every single day. They’re not behind a computer or in a comfy office. They are laboring.
On this Labor Day, though, I think we should give a bit of extra thought to some of the toughest laborers around: miners. I’m talking specifically about 33 Chilean miners, trapped more than a half mile under the earth, in darkness, trying to hold it together as they wait for and work for rescue.
After the cave-in on Aug. 5, the 33 men were thought to be lost, until Chilean engineers found them 17 days later — all miraculously alive and unharmed.
As hope waned, a drill operator felt some vibrations. When a 150-pound drilling hammer was raised, it had red paint on it. Later, it came back with a bag tied to the drilling tube, said Laurence Golborne, the country’s mining minister. Inside were two letters: a three-page note from Mr. Gómez to his wife and a small note in red lettering.
“We are fine in the refuge, the 33,” it read.
Workers on the surface are working on a rescue plan and implementing it even as we speak. They’re drilling a rescue hold to get to the miners. It could take three to four months.
Think about that for a while. Those 33 miners could be stuck, trapped, down in the dark, with little contact with the outside world, for almost six months. Not just trapped, but living with the constant threat of immanent, horrible, crushing death, for half a year. Right now, all that’s connecting them to the greater world is a half-mile-long, four-inch-wide tunnel to the surface. But they’re not letting that stop them.
The miners will play a critical role in their own escape, making their organization and leadership essential, officials said. The men will need to clear 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is cleared, officials said. The work will require the men to work in shifts 24 hours a day.
So, as you go about your Labor Day, eating hot dogs and hamburgers and going to parades, spare a little time for these Chilean laborers, these miners, these contenders for toughest dudes in the world. A little prayer wouldn’t hurt either.
Be strong, dude!s.