The hidden years,117 Bonavista

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 13 August 22:38


Lake bonavista

The days moved on and one day resembled another. The work was tedious. The rags on my hands, I did not need anymore, now within a week, my hands were rough and calloused. You understood why people went dull, you simply became empty. Your thoughts came slowly to a stop and what remained was a blank stare and digging. We now worked in pairs, side by side in the trench. The largest primate was with a new boy, also an apprentice plumber, they had been placed in a new trench.

I realized that the hours you worked, were lost hours, and we were wasting our time with hours exchanging them for wage and the idea suffocated me. Because there would be no progress. If you did not take care, you’d be doing this work for a month and then before you knew it, the month was past and you were in the second month. After a few years you would have grown crooked with very strong arms, if your back lasted that long. You were caught in a web of money and time. You were wasting your time to make money to survive. If you did so, you could not look for another job and when you came home you were tired, then you ate some and then rolled into bed.

I was startled by a poke in my back and the ghastly smile of Peter. I was expecting a slap to my head but it did not happen. ‘Time out, ‘he laughed,’ Did you not hear the steam whistle 'and to be honest, I had not heard it. The Drystale cart came driving up the site and we climbed out of the trench and walked to the line that was forming. ‘Pete,’ I said, 'how long have you been doing this? ‘ ‘Three years at Hash Moon and before that a few years at a farmers' business,’ he replied. ‘Do you still think it is nice work,’ I asked. ‘Work is never fun,’ Pete said as he looked out far ahead. ‘What else can you do,’ he continued, I have a wife and child and you have to eat anyway. ‘  ‘This means you’ll always do this,’ I asked? 'Ah,' said Pete, ‘and here you'll find something and there you leave something, it is probably the same all over, if you really measure it out.’ If I can not get along anymore, then I will find a job as a janitor somewhere, you know? ‘I understood it, Pete did not like his life and it would not be much fun, as he grew older ..

‘Why do they take us all on as an apprentice plumber,’ I asked, out loud. The row worked meanwhile slowly forward, to the distribution point where your cakes, soup or coffee were waiting. ‘A contrivance of the boss,’ Pete, thought, ‘if you're navvy then you are a seasonal worker, you can not get a loan, no bank is going to do so, but if you are professional or apprentice craftsman that is another business.‘ ‘That  is what makes it so very attractive to us dombo's to come work with him, but he has us over a barrel, if you bought on the installment plan.’ ‘He can also move you when the frost is in the ground and there is no more question of digging, well then he lets you load manually trucks, things like that '

You will  be made guard in outside services, which is a sub company of the boss, that's no fun. ‘I could see that, when it is minus 30 degrees it must be pitiful to walk at night on construction sites to check for intruders .. ‘At least the diggers make good guards, we are strong hey, ‘Pete laughed. I had never thought of myself as a Dumbo and it surprised me how easily Pete figured us to be so. Life had kicked and beaten him fairly and he had softly surrendered to the image that goes with it. ‘What will it be,’ asked the smiling girl? ‘A soup and a cake please,’ I replied, and behind me I was already  being pushed by other dombo's.


The cake was already eaten before we reached our trench and the soup was poured down when the shrill whistle echoed across the grounds and forced us to work. Moments later we were again bent on our job and we worked our way forward through the trench and I realized that some work was a sandwich and some more ground that you were working away, a liter of fuel for the Pontiac. It would be payday tomorrow and that would make a lot good. I noticed that I began to think as Pete, who had probably also thought in the beginning, that what he had found as work, was but temporary, until he could find something better. Meanwhile he loaded trucks if the boss wanted him to, in all kinds of weather and he was made night watchman when the ground was frozen. By ‘contrivance’ of the boss, as Pete so beautifully had described it, that boss had a group of workers which he could use anywhere. I was reminded of the slave chorus from Nabucco, as something that we were, but then legalized. Eventually a long shrill tone whistled over the field and the day was over. How sad, yet I thought when I walked to the Pontiac, our life is guided by a stupid mechanical flute and we were the puppets dancing to it.

San Daniel 2015

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