This past weekend I was sucked into a communications black hole... And it could have been an episode from the old TV series "Twilight Zone".
(Hum the the theme now...)
At the last minute Friday, my boss calls me begging me to do him a favor. He wants me to work at that mine up in Nicholas County again. The one I swore I wouldn't work at because of the dumbass they have as a supervisor.
So, he's begging me like I said, and I really hate to hear a grown man grovel like that. It's pathetic. Ok sez I, I'll do it on a few conditions. One, I use the company truck to get there because the last time I worked up there it cost me money. I didn't earn anything. What I made in overtime I spent in gas. Two, He'd get me a motel room for the time I'd be up there working. The two-hour drive one-way after a 12 hour shift gets pretty old after the first day, and he needed me Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
He's so desperate he readily agrees.
So I head out around 4PM to get to the place at 6. I get there and the supervisor/dumbass is curiously mum. So I get my assignment and head out to the waste pile.
If any of you have ever been to a coal mine, a waste pile is an enormous pile of shale that's left over after the raw or "green" coal has been processed.
So I'm guarding a gigantic pile of rocks.
Every thing seems pretty normal, and I'm treated to a fabulous sunset you can only get in September in West Virginia. It's also getting chilly and I'm glad I brought a jacket. So around 11 PM, my radio goes out. Not my two-way radio but the one in the truck. It just goes tits-up on me.
No I've got to sit here guarding a titanic pile of rocks for 2 and a half more shifts, about 31 more hours with NO TUNES!
To make matters worse, I wasn't able to get a newspaper and I had nothing to read.
This is gonna' suck!
So I'm finally able to get through the night without falling asleep or gouging my eyes out in sheer boredom and make my way to the only motel in Rainell and get myself a room.
I do have to ask, is it just me, or is every small motel in this country owned and/or operated by East Indians?
So I get the room, and since I do not speak Hindi or read Sanskrit, and the proprietor couldn't read or write English I had some difficulty informing her that I didn't need maid service, that I worked all night and wished not to be disturbed.
So, of course the room is right next to the office. I key myself into a room about the same size as a Wheat Thins box, take the "Do Not Disturb" thingie and hang it on the outside doorknob. I then get in and take a nice hot shower and crawl into bed.
(I do have to ask this though. Is it in the rule books for hotel/motel architecture that all showerheads must protrude from the wall in the tub not more that 5' 3"? I'm 6' 2" tall and every damn motel I ever stay at, the damn showerhead is at about tit-level and I have to do the limbo just to wash my hair...)
So now I'm in bed and find it impossible to get to sleep... The overpowering aroma of something being slowly stewed in curry permeates the room, that and the most horrible noises are emanating from the office next-door.
It sounds as if Ravi Shankar, Yoko Ono and George Harrison got together with some really good acid and decided to have a jam-session at full volume.
What the Fuck....
I'm finally able to get to sleep... Then there's a light in my eyes, blinding me...
"Rum Surpis!" I hear and see an ethereal figure standing in a aura of white, brilliant light...
Rum Serpis? What the fuck is that? Some sort of message from the Beyond?
"Misser, you wan rum serpis?"
I'm not dead, and it's not an angel in a white halo beckoning me to heaven. It's the goddamn maid who also can't read English.
"No, I do not want 'rum serpis' OK? I want to fucking sleep! Get the fuck out!"
This happened again Monday too. I told the manager, who smiled and nodded feigned understanding.
It was no use. Right on cue at around 11 AM Monday, after being lulled asleep again by Ravi, George and Yoko and what sounded strangely like a cat caught in a fan-belt, I hear "Rum Serpis!"...
I'm not paranoid. Well, maybe just a little... But it was almost as if something, some greater power out there than me was doing it's damnedest to make my weekend miserable. To totally cut me off from reality and the outside world. No radio, no cell phone service, no newspaper, nothing to read...
No fucking sleep...
It succeeded. In spades.
After another two hours drive this morning I'm home now and I'm going to crawl into bed, turn off the phone... One more night and I have two nights off...
It's been a long time, but I think tomorrow I'm going to get drunk and sleep for about 40 hours....
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden