The hidden years in Canada 158,worthless lives

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 03 September 22:39

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Worthless lives

The road was a wide path that was snowy and slippery. It had been pushed by a caterpillar from the base and we were now where this heavy caterpillars barely had gotten grip. We slid down the slopes  far more than we drove. Going up Bill took a running start and then we just got above, and then followed always a turn to the left or right. At one stage my boss sent the trailer over the snow edge and then turned hard on the steering wheel to slip into another corner taking it diagonally to the corner while on my side where the truck was seized by the snow, a dizzying depth stared me in the face. ‘No,’ I yelled, but when I looked sideways, I saw that Bill was laughing like a lunatic, a madman. ‘Just scream, he shouted,’ if it is unintentional. That was done to get more grip. ‘

I realized that this road held no secrets for Bill and the trip over glacial lakes had been a joke that was out of proportion with this dead man's ride. After an hour you were indifferent and your muscles no longer tightened up because of a looming depth, because you just assumed that Bill would get the heavy comby around the bend. My boss glanced at the trip meter and ordered me to keep an open eye for the diamond mine. He had not uttered the words or in the distance I could see deep beneath us, the black smoke rise up. Arctic Bill belonged in this area, it was his home ground, he was fused with it in a manner that I was not likely to learn.

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We descended into the plain and Bill explained to me that we now were driving over swamps and that I should pay attention to the dikes that surrounded the complex. ‘It's been a technological marvel,’ thought Bill,’ here in the wilderness.’ ‘They first located the volcano mouths and surrounded them with dikes, ‘I nodded, listening, it seemed to me like quite a job to build dikes in marshland. ‘Have you ever heard of Kimberlite,’ he did not wait for my answer, ‘which is a volcano mouth that has not become a mountain,’ he continued. ‘Diamonds are formed under high temperatures and immense pressure, deep underground.’ I nodded. ‘That means that if you are lucky and have found a mouth where eruptions took place thousands of years ago, the earth there, along with the lava spewed out, could have been littered with gems and rough diamonds.

I heard every day something new and had learned not to interrupt Bill ‘Such a crater may have a diameter of a mile, 'continued Bill, ‘and brings from a depth of let say 350 miles magna and rocks upward. The whole gabang explodes at about 1,500 meters below the earth's surface by accumulation and creates a crater-like hole. The latter passage that connects the violent conflagration deep beneath the crater opening is called a Kimberlite pipe. Kimberlite earth is riddled with precious stones. You know what they make a day, of diamond value? ‘ He looked at me for a moment in passing, but he did not need to doubt, he had my attention. ‘I have no idea, I replied,’ I can not even begin to guess. ‘ ‘Two million dollars a day,’ said Bill, ‘it is serious business and those who knick a stone are shot. I could not believe my ears, ‘what do you mean by shot,’ I asked? ‘Easy,’ Bill said, ‘everyone knows that if you steal from the diamond men than you will be shot.’

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‘A life is worth very little here’ he continued, ‘here we live worthless lives, we have sold our lives and for a sum of money, there are rules that you must not violate. I saw now indeed looming up a few  dikes and the road went into the height to climb over the dike. ‘Behind it is a funnel excavated up to 300 meters deep,’ said my boss, ‘but we can not get there, we load and unload in the 'outside’ We arrived at a quards's cottage and a barrier lay beyond a large loading and unloading square with some barracks and behind barbed wire lined the entrance to the mine area. There were several watchtowers manned by armed men. I understood what Bill had meant, diamonds are serious business and the owners left no nonsense unpunished. Here a life was worth little if you compared it to a handful of transparent volcanic rock.

We were guided to the center and our combination was parked at a power pole by Bill and plugged in by me. ‘To the office,’ said Bill, ‘follow the exclamation mark, a long plume of smoke hung over the barrack slowly rising to great heights in the freezing thin air. The coupons were stamped and soon we were back outside. ‘We are lucky,’ Bill said,’ the food  barracks are before the barbed wire. We stepped through the door, past the huge plastic flaps into a violent heat. ‘Hey Arctic,’ came a raspy voice. It belonged to an elderly man who had a downright crazy look in his eyes. ‘No, I’ll be buggered,’ said my boss, 'Dangerous Sam McCee. The two men embraced each other and began to pound each other on the back. ‘Who is that ugly piece of crap, that you have got with you,’ asked McCee. ‘Come here big mother’, said Bill, beckoning me,’ it is dangerous Sam McCee, a legend in his lifetime. ‘ ‘Pleased Mother,’ said Mccee while he took me in. ‘You I do not know, but that is already past time now’ and he cackled ‘We’ll  go to the coffee corner,’ he exclaimed, ‘that is just nice and hot and then I’ll go back to Yellowknife, for the ladies of the night.’ Bill looked a little disapproving, 'we won’t, ‘he said, we got to load some oil rigs, pipes and such for another oil base. The big move begins now, eh. ‘

'Move, move, work for fools, woof woof ‘ laughed the man,’ a fool every day hickedie way.’ I must have looked bewildered, as Bill put his finger over his lips and winked. ‘Yes, oily boily Booh,’ the man laughed now and he looked at me with a look that gave me goosebumps. ‘where do you want to be buried Mother, under the ice, and he hit himself on the knees with laughter? ‘Under the ice hee ho , no not wise,’ Before I could answer, the bartender called out, ‘McCee, come here you mangy dog, I have your survival kit ready.' 'Kit, kit, reteketit,’ cackled McCee in a hollow voice and ran away from us without even a parting glance. ‘What a strange man,’ I said. ‘Completely crazy,’ was my boss’s opinion, too many years of working alone. You have to avoid him if you can, this man is dangerous, he drives you off the road. He will not butch an inch. ‘ ‘Is that why he is called, dangerous Sam,’ I asked? ‘Amongst other things, Bill, thought’ his co-drivers always die, ‘I shivered a moment, it reminded me of Freddy who always had death stick around him.

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‘Why can this man still work then,’ I asked? ‘Oh, he runs on time,’ explained Bill ‘and never loses his load, which is what counts here in these parts.’ It was a strange day, full of facts, where bosses just shoot a thief and folk let a crazy drive a 50 ton colossus. ‘Is he not a little too old to still drive combi's,’ I asked. Bill chuckled, ‘he has already handed in his license years ago, we obey different rules. Age or your health condition does not matter to our company, nor whether you have experience or not. They love to take people with a license but that is not strictly necessary. We're not talking about state roads, but we carry loads over lakes and pushed private roads. Are we all outlaws here then, I was upset? ‘ ‘Everybody,’ laughed Bill, ‘who would come to enforce the laws here. The load is more important than the people. ‘ I nodded, I had suddenly gained insight into life Up North, and that understanding did not appeal to me.

San Daniel 2015

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