Safety guy learns humility

It’s Raining Oil Mr. Safety!

      I have been asked numerous times by many people through the years, “How is it that even when you get upset it’s not for long?” The short answer to this question is humor and a lot of mistakes. Now I’m going to try and explain the long version. Even though I believe that I possess a certain ability to see humor in almost everything I see or do, there’s more to it. First off it is true that you need to have the ability to laugh at yourself. Believe me when I say, I give myself a lot of material to work with. If something crazy is going to happen, I’m probably the one it’s happening to. The following true story will help you get the idea of what I’m talking about.

     I was working for an open pit copper mine in Arizona and at the time I was the union safety representative for my crew. I was driving a 320 ton haul truck, The truck I was driving broke down so a supervisor picked me up in his pickup  and took me to another truck to finish my shift. Upon pulling up to this other truck, I noticed there was a 55 gallon steel barrel of used oil about ten feet away from the left front tire. This was left by the mechanics who were working on this haul truck.When you are in one of these trucks the number one hazard is blind spots. It takes about twenty-five feet away from the driver’s seat to see the ground. You think that’s a lot? Well, it takes about a hundred and fifty feet away from the truck to see the ground out of the passenger side window while sitting in the driver’s seat. This is due to the cab being positioned on the left side of the truck. It’s approximately twenty feet to the far right of the truck. When you are in the cab it’s like sitting on the roof of a one story house with a peaked roof. ( I wanted to put that out there to give you a sense of size ).

     When we pull up to this truck and I see this barrel of oil, my safety instincts kicked in and I knew I would have to tell the supervisor about it. Before I continue, did I mention I am the acting safety representative at this time? Yes, I know I did already. Being the good safety guy I am, I pointed this out to the supervisor and said that because this truck is parked in a parking area that we use all the time, this barrel needs to be moved as soon as possible. I went on to say that if someone were to run over it it would be a big deal due to a hazmat spill. I knew he knew this but I felt important informing him anyway. ( I got what I like to refer to as the big head, also known as self importance ). He agreed and told me he would have the mechanics come get it after I left.

     I was sooo proud of myself! I put my big lunchbox on the steps of the truck and walked around and did my safety inspection of the truck. After I felt that the truck was okay, I grabbed my big lunchbox and went up the ladder to the deck where the cab is. I did my inspection of the top, put my big lunchbox in the passenger side of the cab, went around to the driver’s side and started the truck up. Once again, did I mention I’m the safety guy? I got my assignment from dispatch and did one more walk across the deck to make sure everything and everyone was clear of the truck before I left. Remember how close the barrel was and how far away from the truck it takes to see the ground? I sat myself down, buckled my seat belt and away I went.

I moved about 15 feet away from my parking spot and slammed on the brakes because all of the sudden there’s this black rain pouring down the windshield and my drivers side door. My first thought was, did the engine just blow up? That didn’t seem right, I mean I didn’t hear a loud bang or anything. What’s going on? By now there is oil all over the cab and across most of the 20 feet of deck. Strangely enough though, with engine compartment located on my right side and yet the passenger window is clean? If the engine blew it’s top, shouldn’t that window be covered in oil instead of the driver’s door? Out of the blue, it hit me like a ton of bricks, OH No!!! This great safety guy that just got done telling the supervisor how that barrel of oil had to be moved before the next truck parked there has, ( in all his stick up the butt greatness ), just ran over that same barrel of oil!!

After shaking my head and feeling completely stupid, I had to take a minute to laugh at myself. After this short laughing episode and calling myself a few choice words, it was time to get serious again. I have to call that same supervisor back on the radio and prepare for the butt chewing I was about to receive. “Hello? Umm yes sir, I need you to come back here please”, I said. Why? came the reply. “Umm, well sir I would rather talk to you when you get here”, I answered back. I was surprised what his next question was. “Oh Billy, you didn’t?”, he exclaimed. “Umm, can you just come here please sir?”. My reply was weak because of the embarrassment I felt. The same supervisor that dropped me off was back within ten minutes. I got an unexpected surprise, when he drove up, I’m standing out on the deck (oil dripping all around me) and he didn’t get out of his pickup shaking his head and yelling at me. Instead, he got out of his pickup shaking his head and laughing so hard he could barely stand up! I didn’t think it was that funny. Well, it didn’t feel like it then but thinking about how I must have looked with the oil dripping all aroundme, it probably was that funny.

After he regained control,  he told me that because the truck was loaded, I would have to take it to the dump and empty it out. After I did that, he would have dispatch send me to the washbay by the truck shop so they could wash the truck off. I didn’t want too do this because I didn’t want anyone seeing me driving a truck covered in oil and asking what happened. He gave me a huge roll of paper towels so I could clean the widows enough to see and then I was heading to the dump.

Black and white picture of two 400 ton mine haulage trucks taken from deck of a mine haulage truck

After dumping the truck, I got another surprise. Dispatch told me the washbay already had a truck in it and I had to go get reloaded and run one more load before getting this nasty thing cleaned up. If that wasn’t bad enough, they were sending me to get loaded all the way on the other side of the mine! Well, I did it and they made sure everybody seen me. Finally, I get to the washbay and the guys there told me they haven’t had a truck there all day. This fine supervisor wanted to make sure I learned my lesson and let everybody know about it too. Chalk one up for him! He also taught me some humility. I learned this lesson like most lessons I have learned, the hard way. I wasn’t near the cocky safety representative that I had been before this incident.

I still tell this story when I can. Even though it was humiliating at the time, it was also one more thing showing me that you have to be able to laugh at yourself. I gained respect from the people I worked with. This was because when they asked what happened, I was honest and told them the truth. This is just one instance through my life that has humbled me and taught me to learn to laugh at myself when I mess up. Holding anger or embarrassment does nothing but cause pain to your body. Laughter will lift your spirits and help you get through any dumb thing you may do. If you have any stories that have taught you humility, I would love to hear them. Don’t be afraid to share your story because the ones you are talking to, have stories of their own. Take care. God bless and Remember, we are all in this together.

short stories

Cameras at the mine

  My debut on screen

     I would have to say this was maybe the hardest, craziest and possibly the most embarrassing thing I have ever done. I was actually in a television show for one episode. The show is Heavy Metal Task Force. I guess you could say I had a starring role, even though I didn’t feel that it was.

Clapperboard used for takes while making films

     A few years back, this television show decided to do an episode at the copper mine I was working in at the time. I happened to be the safety representative for my crew that they were filming. It was the luck of the draw I guess that they used my crew. Actually, it was because we happened to be on day shift at the time. Quite a few of my coworkers and friends were in the film as well.

     My job as the safety guy was to follow this film crew around and make sure they were safe because they were filming in a working mine. I didn’t think this would be a very difficult job. Boy was I in for a surprise! First off, I would like to say that film crew camera men and women are a unique crowd. I think you’re nuts, but you do get the hard shots of film that make it look so real! The camera man that was on this crew really kept me on my toes. I thought, at any given moment, I was going to have to call for mine rescue to pull a body out of a 150-foot drop. This guy was relentless, positioning himself in places that would make a bird nervous, and here I was responsible for his safety. “What is this guy, part mountain goat?” I can honestly say, I walked around with my underwear sucked up my dark side because of all the times I had to catch my breath.

Open pit copper mine

     In comes the producer, who was very good about getting my attention, so the cameraman could do his job. I have always been a talkative person, but this guy was the equivalent of three teenage girls. Questions, stories, suggestions, whatever it took to keep my attention. I have to say, he was very good at it! The only one that I would consider halfway sane was the sound guy. Yet he did a great job of keeping my attention as well. These guys worked very well as a team for sure.

     All three of these gentlemen were very kind to me, but they wore me out trying to keep up with them. We would get out of the Ford Expedition on one of the higher levels of the mine, and they would all take off in different directions at once. Of course, they were doing their individual jobs, but how am I supposed to keep an eye out in three different directions? And talk about fast, these guys were like gazelles. They would have any two-year-old gasping for breath inside ten minutes. This film crew would get done with their individual jobs in one place, pile back in the Expedition, and off we would go to our next destination. Even though I was driving and still answering a billion questions, this was the time I would have a chance to slow my heart rate down again before the next stop.

     I was asked by the producer to find certain types of people that I thought would do well on film. I would take them to these people for a ride along in heavy equipment and for interviews from others about their jobs. (To all the miners that were in this film, let me apologize now, most of you were handpicked by me). I can confess this now because I’m retired and am fairly safe from any retribution.

      One situation that came up was wet weather driving. We had a lot of footage, but the problem was it wasn’t raining, and the producer said they needed rain for the story. When I asked why, he said that he heard from a couple of the haul truck drivers that that’s when it gets crazy out here. I told him he was correct because I was a haul truck driver myself. We had good cloud coverage but no rain. Then I had an idea that almost got me into a lot of trouble. I suggested that I could have a water truck driver over wet a section of road, and they could get shots of the mud and back sprayers of the water truck for rain. Along with this suggestion, we could go up to one of the dumps that were being leached with all the sprayers going. All this sounded good to him, and we did this. Then the request came from him to see a haul truck sliding. I don’t know what I was thinking upon this request, but I had another brilliant idea. Me and my alligator mouth, now overloading my Mickey Mouse ass, is about to cause a painfully close call.

Black and white picture of a 400 ton mine haulage truck
Actual truck I used to drive

     I got hold of a good haul truck driver I knew and asked him to do a small fishtail slide on the section of road we just had soaked down. This driver wanted to do a good job for me, and boy did he! It wasn’t a small slide, it was a Huge slide, and he almost lost it! I could see management’s eyes now while I try to explain that it was my idea and the wreak of a three million dollar truck was my fault. On top of that, other drivers seen that we were filming the slide and decided to help out by sliding their trucks too! After three trucks had done this, it had messed up the road to the point no trucks could come down that hill without sliding, wanting to or not. Three, six, nine million dollars, how many millions am I going to be responsible for?!! Everybody made it safely, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

     The next request was from the cameraman, who wanted to get a close-up of a haul truck driving by. So I had a haul truck drive slowly past us as I’m begging the cameraman not to get too close. So far, so good. Other than the hundred heart attacks I have had so far, nobody had gotten hurt or wreaked any equipment. All this stuff had happened in a few days time. Of course, with everything these three men were putting me through, it would be the longest three days of my life.

    There was this one point where we were driving up onto one of the dumps. I was as helpful as I could be, giving them ideas along the way and kidding around with them about anything and everything. As we were driving across one of the dumps, I was goofing off and made a comment about seeing money and not dirt ahead. This being said, I had no idea that I was being filmed from the passenger side of the back seat. Ultimately, this ended up in our little movie.

Tv cameraman with ball cap on backwards looking through camera

     The producer told me he needed a supervisor to be on film for the story. The supervisor they wanted couldn’t come out because he was in meetings all day. That supervisor and all others wouldn’t be available in time to do what we needed to get accomplished. So the producer asked me to play a supervisor just so when a supervisor was available they could piece them in. Sounded reasonable the way he explained it. What did I know about movie making, I mean I’m just a miner? Besides, I might have a little fun acting crazy at the supervisor’s expense. There aren’t too many chances you get to make fun of your bosses and not get into trouble.

     Here I was doing all kinds of crazy things on film, thinking it was just to set up for the supervisor to be placed into my spot. I had a lot of fun with it. It was like acting without worrying if someone actually seen it other than the one’s around me at the time. Along the way, I got a couple of mechanics that I knew to do a little skit for the film. Wow, did they do a great job! Also had the film crew go on board a shovel and film my friend and favorite shovel operator loading trucks and interviewing him. I’m not sure that he has forgiven me for that yet. We went to dispatch, and they interviewed and filmed my friend doing his job keeping up with everything going on in the pit.

One man standing by tire, another man standing by bucket of huge mine loader
Actual loader used in film

     The final day came, and I was exhausted, but we had to film the loader one more time, as we had filmed the loader and operator earlier in this process. That’s when I got the shock I did not expect. While the cameraman and sound guy were filming the loader and operator,  the producer asked me to talk to him in the Expedition. The operator of the loader was also the main safety guy over me, so I said ok as long as I can still see the other two members of the film crew. “Billy, you have done a great job so far, and I only need one more thing from you.” the producer said. “What’s that?” I asked. “I need you to sign these papers, so we can use the film we have of you and make you the hero in our production.” He said. This was not easy for me to do because, I was just messing around and not being serious at all. The sound guy and cameraman got back in the vehicle and asked the producer if he had asked me yet. I couldn’t believe it, they had all already talk about this, probably in the motel they stayed in the night before. The cameraman told me I was good on film and wanted to use the footage. They finally talked me into it and I kinda had a dull pain in my gut because I had just signed to let others see me as the opposite of who I really am.

There was only one part I couldn’t get right on the final day. The producer told me he wanted to take some still film of me for the end. I asked him what he meant, and he said it’s what they call a “hero shot” in the film industry. I tried my best to pose for this hero shot, but it just wasn’t what they wanted. Furthermore, I think the reason I couldn’t get it right was because they called it a hero shot. Besides, I wasn’t any kind of hero, I just played a part in our little film. Maybe if he would’ve called it the still shot or dull shot, I would’ve gotten it right?

     Finally, everything was done, and we had no idea when our little film would show, what show it would be on or anything for a few months. Finally, we got word that our show would be on “Heavy Metal Task Force” season two, episode two. The show finally aired and when I seen how they chopped things up and how they had filmed me without even knowing it on the dump, I was more embarrassed than ever. The one thing I can say was how proud I was of the people I worked with every day. To see my friends doing their jobs on film was a thing of beauty.

       Heavy Metal Task Force always has three different places they are showing on the same episode, and we got top billing! If you watch it, you will see how the show starts and finishes with us at the Ray mine just outside of Kearny, AZ. You will get to see the names of people in the film, but I left their names off here because I didn’t get their approval. I hope you enjoy the film and make as much fun of me as you want. It is pretty funny, after all. All the people at the mine have already had a lot of fun at my expense. I still have one guy that calls me “Hollywood” every time I see him. I really don’t mind anymore, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. Take care and remember, we are all in this together.

Watch Heavy Metal Task Force Season 2 episode 2 on Prime Video

Children change parents

Having children changes our whole outlook on life and how we live it. When we become parents, we become different people. We are now responsible for another life not just our own. Our thought patterns become what we would once describe as alien. Is the party really over or is it just beginning? This is definitely determined by how you receive the great gift of parenthood.

Who is ready to be a parent for the first time? Most people would answer this question in one of two ways, either they say they are definitely ready or they say they don’t want children at all. Now the people that commit with the, “I don’t want children” are usually the ones that get the biggest surprise and are transformed into, ” I want more children!” So what happened to them when they received the greatest gift in the world? The answer is, their hearts were all of the sudden changed and love was allowed to flow through. They put aside their selfishness and now it’s all about the child. These people, most of the time, become some of the greatest parents that there are.

A Mother and Father holding their baby in their laps

What about the people that say they are ready for that first bundle of joy? Well, that’s when you see the ones who are overwhelmed by the gift they have received. These parents are the ones who have read all kinds of books and have set their minds knowing every thing about being a parent before the child has even arrived. The very first thing these parents learn, once the child arrives, is they absolutely know nothing about being a parent. All the books that have been studied, all the hours talking to people about becoming a parent and all the preparations made to the child’s room to make it perfect gets thrown right out the window. “That’s not what the book said would happen!” “How can my child find a way to get hurt after making this room so safe?” Why when I use the rocking chair and soothing music, it’s not putting my baby to sleep like the book said?” These are just examples that I’m throwing out but you will find different things that work with some children but not all children. The simple truth is, all people are different and that little bundle of joy you are holding is, well, a people too!

So we have now looked at both extremes of parents. There are also those that fall in the middle of the two, not quite to one side or the other. So if all children are different, then we must change to take care of our child. This little tiny person is going to change who you are whether you like it or not. This baby will also find ways to surprise you and come up with things to do that you never would have dreamed of in a million years. This little bundle of joy will find ways to drive you close to insanity.

Baby laying on a blanket

So if having children is such a chore and causes you grief as he or she grows and learns new things, why do we want them. Why, oh why after having one, would we want another to drive us even closer to insanity? Some would say it’s nature and that, of course is part of it but the main reason we keep having them? Face it it comes down to love. Love, the emotion that no one can explain. Love, the feeling that makes your heart leap.

It’s okay to change into what your baby needs. The greatest gift in the world requires and deserves this change we all go through. When you are down to your last nerve and your beautiful son or daughter is standing on it, just remember, your parents made it through raising you and that last nerve made it through with them! Your child is part of our future and requires your love to flow and teach them so they can hang on to their last nerve when their baby arrives.

You are now a parent and you are no longer who you were. You are now a new person with a new outlook on life. You are now responsible for the gift you have received. Take charge of the situation. Change what must be changed. And most of all, hold true to the love for your child and he/she will hold their love for you. One day all the stresses your child brought to you will be returned to them and you can watch your child down to that last nerve as you sit back and enjoy it as a grandparent.

Grandmother and grandfather holding their grand babies

Who is ready to be a parent? The answer is no one and everyone. You will not be ready to be a parent until you are one. The day you become a parent, you will find that day, that you are now ready.

I hope you enjoyed reading this piece. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Leave your replies in the comments section below. Until next time, take care, God bless and as always Remember, we are all in this together.

Seeking A Higher PoWeR

      It makes no difference what religion you follow, if that is, you follow a said religion at all, we all are seeking a higher power even if that higher power lies within the very body you possess. When it comes right down to it, we are basically working towards the same goal, maybe just following a different book, whether it be fact or fiction. So who is correct and who is following amiss? Are you happy with who you are and where you believe you are heading after you leave this world behind? Do you wake in the morning looking forward to life or groan because life still finds you when you wake? Are you an atheist and believe in nothing past this life other than the worms in your grave for your final destination? Are you a Christian and believe Heaven is preparing a place for you? Where do you stand and are you correct in your beliefs?

Man sitting and thinking in graveyard

     These are questions that are in the heart of everyone of us whether you want to admit it or deny it, it is fact. I have my beliefs, you have yours and that will be as it is until the end of life and we find out who is right and who missed the boat, unless before death you or I change what we believe and follow a different path. I have said this before and I will say it again, I am a Born again Christian and believe that I have a place in Heaven waiting for me. I don’t understand other beliefs as much as I would like to so I could have a better understanding of how others think. I stand by the belief that religion is man made and Christianity is God made. Let me explain this with a little more clarity.

      Within the Christian community their are religious sectors that separates one from the other in various ways. Their are Baptist, Methodist and pentecostal, just to name a few. The differences within these may not mean much to you unless you yourself are a Christian. Basically they all interpret the Holy Bible in a slightly different way but are still following the same Holy scriptures. This means that religion is man’s way of following what God made. We are all Christians ( God made ) following within different religions ( man made ). I hope this helps you understand the difference. I, myself, follow the Holy Bible without being in any certain  religious sect and am bound to the whole book not just the parts and pieces that I feel like being a part of. In other words, if it is written, it is so. If you want to place me into a religious sector, it would be Charismatic Christian, for I believe in the Holy Spirit as is also written. This my friends really paints me into a corner but it is how I am able to get closer to my God that I seek, follow and pray to. I believe if I were to omit parts of the Bible, the word would have no meaning left in it. It’s all or nothing in my view. I believe that I can be forgiven for not adhering to a part or parts if I only ask for forgiveness but when all is said and done, I am still bound by the word.

Praying hands on Holy Bible

      I am not here to preach to you or change your views in any way but rather to explain why I write the way I do and try not to offend anyone who are reading my post. The main thing I am trying to say, in one way or another is, we are all seeking something in the beyond, except atheist which are seeking nothing beyond the grave. As far as atheist go, the one part I don’t understand is during a life and death situation, why cry out to God, if there is no God? This tells me of all the religious beliefs, the atheist are one of whom are believing amiss. To all of us others in this great marble floating in space, ask yourself, “What are my beliefs and are they to the betterment or destruction of mankind?”

     I know that I have given you a lot to chew on in this post and I will probably get a lot of flack from it. That’s okay, I’m a big boy and I can handle it! I challenge you to write what you believe and why in the comments below. I along with others would like to hear your views.

     I wish each and everyone of you a blessed presence within the life you have chosen, no matter whom you follow or don’t. Take care and Remember, we are all in this together.

Ego; tiny word, LARGE implications

Why must we worry how others see us? Why can’t we just be who we are and be happy with it? I am and have been for awhile happy with who I am. I have issues just like everyone else but I put myself out there as who I am and don’t put on a show to please anybody. Just like “Popeye” I am who I am. If you like me, great! If you don’t like me, well that’s fine too. I’m not going to change to please you or anyone else. This may seem harsh to you but it’s true and I have become a much happier person for it. I try to keep that little word “Ego’ as small as I can and I believe that I am better for it.

People who have strong ego’s tend to be so into themselves that others mean nothing to them. For me, I will talk to everyone the same and not change depending on whom I’m talking with. I will treat you with the same respect as I will with anyone else. I have talked with many people who have been high up on the ladder of success as well as those whom are homeless and in despair. If you were to hear me talk with these different people, you will notice that my tone and words will flow the same for each.

The old saying goes, “We all put our pants on one leg at a time”. The gest of this is, no matter how important you think you are, you are no more important as the other person. You may find yourself in an important position in life that comes with more responsibility and the cudo’s that come with it. I am happy for you but I will still treat you with the same respect as anyone else. I’m not telling you this just to make a point, I truly am this way.

We Americans have a important saying that once was and is very important to most and hopefully to all of us again in the days to come. This saying is, “All men are created equal.” I take this very seriously and am not about to change for anybody. All of us were created in God’s image. Some don’t do this justice and it is a shame they don’t take this more seriously.

If you are someone whom has achieved great success, that is a great thing but don’t let your head get so big that it is hard to hold up. Whenever your ego becomes too big, there will be someone who will take away all that you have accomplished. Keep your ego in check and you can be a leader umungst leaders. However, allow that little word “ego” grow into a monster and you will lose in the long run.

I wish you all the success in the world and hope that you become a great leader in whatever you desire. Take care and Remember, we are all in this together.