Not Your Average Coal Miner

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
Beep beep beep. The sound of the alarm filled the house with its constant noise. It was five in the morning and time for work. Awoken, I had gotten up to do my mourning routine. It consisted of waking up, drinking coffee, and going to the mines. That was my routine every day for the last 30 years except on Sundays. Sunday was the day of faith and rest. Each drive to the mines was always filled with the nervous jitters. I never knew if I would come back home to my family. Working in the mines is a very dangerous job. There are risks almost every step you take. You could trigger an explosion, fall, and even get trapped in the darkness. I had chosen to take these risks ever since I was a boy. I mean, what other option did I have. I grew up into a family of coal miners. In school, I was never a top student thinking I didn’t need to be. My mind was strictly focused on being a coal miner. When I was younger, I wanted to be an Astronaut and see space. That was my 10-year-old self foolishly thinking of the impossible (what I believed back then). As each year of school passed I had no incentive to try. I was always in trouble and never seeking the greater good. That is where faith came into my life. God helped me find a way to the light. He helped me see what the true meaning of life is. How we should give back and be thankful for every day we are alive. Every Sunday we have a family dinner. It brings a sense of togetherness in my life that has kept me going all these years. My family and god are frankly the only reasons that keep me going. Now let me tell you a story. This happened only a year ago. After you read it I want you to reflect back on your own life. See if what you need to do to help to contribute to society.

On Monday, it was my fathers last day on earth. Black lung had taken over and he passed softly in the night. It was aday in which pain had filled my chest. Pain that I had never experienced in my life. He was my role model, friend, and most of all dad. I spent the next night reflecting on my own life. Trying to imagine how many days I would have left in the tank. I decided to go to the doctor's office the next morning. I hadn’t been since I was a child. There was a problem. I was not sure how much money it cost to visit one. I had decided to pull some money out of our savings account without telling Carla (my wife). We didn’t have much money anyway so I thought she wouldn't mind. The Doctor had informed me devastating news. I had contracted a disease even worse the black lung. A disease that is so bad its not even a disease. Cancer had resided in my brain without my knowledge. Slowly growing to take over my entire self. I was at a loss of words. At this moment, I didn't know how much longer I would last. I went home to tell my family. I would say how the doctor said I would have to start chemo immediately. I would have to also say how affording chemo would put us in debt. I tried hiding the scary future in my head. When I got home, I was about to tell my family what happened but something occurred. I did not say a word the rest of the night when I got home. When I went to bed I did a lot of self-reflection. I was thinking about how I might pass away without having accomplished anything in life. I hadn’t won an award, help anyone in need, or just seen the world outside of Thurmond, West Virginia.

The next day I woke up early before dawn. I packed my bags and left the house. Last night while I was reflecting on my past, I realized that only we can determine the future. I didn't want to live my life without seeing the world and how it operates in the modern day before it was my time to go. We have a GPS in our car that had never been used until that day. I had decided to drive to the airport. When I was a kid, my dad told me about huge planes that flew through the sky and traveled around the world. I didn’t believe him until I saw pictures in an aviation book. Since then I had always dreamed of going on one but have never until now. When I reached in my raggedy clothes, people were staring at me. They looked at me with disgust, anxiousness, and worst of all fear. Even the security became curious about me. I quickly went inside the airport. I saw a sign the said UNITED. I was guessing that was the name of an airplane so I went to the lady behind the counter and asked her about it. I also asked her if there were any tickets left on flights. She said there was a ticket left for Switzerland and I immediately said yes. I had remembered my grandfather was Swedish and him always saying how beautiful the country was. She asked for my passport and I had given her a fake one. Lucky for me, I had kept my aviation book from childhood and it said you needed a passport to get in the terminal (I had gone to the library and printed it). When I reached the plane, I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it. I was accomplishing my dreams from last night. (sarcasm)

I had gone to 5 other countries (one in each moderately populated continent) since arriving in Switzerland. My fascination and curiosity kept me going through the entire journey. I learned so much on my trip. I learned how in Switzerland, the homeless that preside the streets are loving and need more attention from the government. They are truly suffering and need to have cared/loved for. Then I ended up in Tunisia. I had seen how women had actually been treated like ⅗ of a person. It was frustrating to see what they went through to merely survive. In China, people did not have freedom of speech, press, or in some parts religion. I visited the western side in which the Uyghur’s (Chinese Muslims) were treated like they were almost non-existent. In Australia, I heard the voices of the Aboriginals fighting for land that had been taken away from them (taken without their consent) centuries ago. I went to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was struck by how the violence between the red cartel gangs and police resulted in the losses of lives of innocent bystanders stuck in the middle of the conflict. Finally, I went to Mexico. I saw the look of hopelessness in the eyes of most people who I walked by.

The story of how I got to each country, my full experiences in each country, and the conclusion can be saved for another time. I just want to give you guys my three takeaways about the world around. 1: Why do people feel the need to shun the poor? They say they're doing their best to help the poor but in reality, almost nothing has been accomplished. They are left on the streets to feel miserable and its truly heartbreaking. 2: Why don’t countries get along? They seem to put personal conflictions in the way of greater goals to become better countries together. 3: Why is there so much hate in the world? In literally every country there was passionate anger brewing between the peoples of different “factions”. Passage 1 John 2:9 says “He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness until now”. With all the hate I tried to find things that brought people together. I found that God, Music, and Happiness bound wounds between people. Obviously, there's more but those are just the three I encountered the most. My life goal after this experience is to live my life without hate or prejudice (with happiness). Appreciate the life I am given no matter its length. Cancer has the power to take my life, but not my dignity. I will be courageous and not give up until God has decided it is time for me to go. Before this story ends, I would like to leave you with a saying from one of my favorite musical artists. “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.”-John Lennon.