Okay, now back to the story. It’s the story of my first job after college, remember? When I left college to work for the Bureau, I was a 2-week field camp class away from earning a B.S. degree in geological engineering. After being there for just over a year, my boss at the Bureau made the arrangements so that I could complete that class at New Mexico Tech (he was also a Tech graduate, but long before me). A co-worker also helped me with this. The class that I needed was a geological engineering field camp class, but we didn’t actually camp. I stayed in the home of two really good friends, who were on summer break, and not taking any classes. My bed was their living room couch. I’m pretty sure that they had a party each and every night that I was there. There were many nights that I had to kick their guests off of the couch so that I could lie down and go to sleep, and the party would continue. Good thing I was young! I never complained. It was really nice of those two guys to put up with me. Speaking of couches, during the first few months of my employment at the Bureau, I slept on my parents couch in their living room (is there a pattern forming here?) They lived in Colorado Springs, and I had to get up at 3:30 every morning in order to get to work at 6:30. But bonus: I got off work at 3:00!
The field camp class was instructed by the late Dr. George Griswold, and it was by far the most enjoyable class I had ever completed. Dr. Griswold was such a character! He cursed freely, and he would wear bright Hawaiian shirts in the field, saying that if he keeled over in the desert, that he wanted to be easily spotted. Such a character. At one fancy dinner banquet, long before the field camp class, Dr. Griswold was the dinner speaker, and he told the audience that it was going to be a long speech, so if anyone had to pee, they better do it now. He paused, and repeated the words of advice somebody had given him previously. He said, in a mocking voice, “Dr. Griswold, you shouldn’t curse in public speeches”. To this, he responded, “I’m a mining engineer, what the fuck am I supposed to sound like?” One more story about Dr. Griswold. I was in my final year of studying, sitting in a class, and a professor (who I really didn’t care for) came into that classroom, and told me that I needed to follow him. I followed him to his office, and he told me that I wasn’t going to graduate, because I was going to fail his class. I told him to get out his grading book and show me. He told me the numerical values that I would have to earn on his next test and his final exam. It turned out that I would need to score an F and a D on those exams. An F and a D, and he didn’t think I could manage that!!! I was so angry with him that I made him go to Griswold’s office with me (Griswold was the department head). In part, due to that conversation, I passed that class, and graduated on schedule. Dr. Griswold was a gem of a man! Darn, I got distracted yet again. But it was worth it! Now, where was I?
I have so many memories of working at the Bureau. There was the time I inadvertently jackhammered my foot, when I was breaking apart a concrete block (that’s where those lyrics came from in The Bolt Boys). We’d installed resin-grouted bolts into the concrete block, and given them “pull tests” to evaluate their anchoring capacity (we’re the Bolt Boys from the DRC, we’ll pull bolts, wherever they be). I was not instructed on the safe operation of a jackhammer. My foot was fine after a few days. It could have been far, far worse. I’m glad to say that the safety culture in the mining industry has come a long way since those day. My feet are happier too!
When we went into the field, and spent time in the underground coal mines, my clothing always reeked. We were pretty weighted down with safety equipment too. We wore a safety belt, so that we could be hauled out of somewhere, if needed. We wore a self-rescuer, which would let us breath, in the event of a fire. We wore the large battery pack that provide power to our headlamps. And of course steel-toed boots, hardhats and safety glasses. And coveralls (that’s what really reeked). Our job was to work with a driller and his helper to install various types of instrumented roof bolts. Then we would take periodic readings of those instruments so we could gage the effectiveness of the roof support system.
Fun fact of the day: When underground coal miners ride in to the mine to begin their shift, they eat something during the drive in. They don’t want to die on an empty stomach.
Sorry to leave you on such a downer.
Try to remember the happy parts about Dr. Griswold!!!
END PART 2