Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Know your station

Its just funny how things change. And for those of us who still have the coal dust on our shoes, we know that when change comes, it isn't always the best. Not that we all feel that we should lead a life of oppression or dismay, but we do come from a place where complaints usually follow with a "be glad you got what you got and shut up". It's that simple.

I have this friend who works in a very responsible position. And his work is seen by millions of sets of eyes. Thanks to a stern and straight upbringing, he has a work ethic that is seen as normal in our little town, but is far from it when you move just 50 miles away from the "Smock 1" sign on Route 51. We were taught to be the best that we could possibly be. Our parents tried to instill this in us so that we didn't end up like them. I don't have to tell you this because readers of this blog know it. Our fathers and mothers weren't rocket scientists nor did any of them work in the White House. They were simple and proud people that wanted something better for us. You can't blame them for that.

Today, I can see changes that have happened for me, my friend, and others that I know. And despite our efforts, we do not always get the reward we're searching for. Instead, we are looked upon as those who try but will never "rise" to the top like those who view us have. The sad truth is that if those who are viewing us look around, they will find that they are looking up and not down at us.

And so, where do we go from here? Sadly for many, we maintain our station in life and do the best we can without reward or recognition. But our parents did not teach us to be recognized or how to handle accolades. We were taught to accept who we are and where we came from. And if that's not enough, well, too bad.

But revisiting that place so many times, I have personally come to know that this is not where we must always stay. By sheer perseverance combined with a good attitude toward work, family and others, we will eventually rise above those who think that footprints all over our clothing is normal. It is not.

Spring is here and Summer fast approaches, my favorite time of the year. And with the passing of each day, the sun stays up in the sky just a minute or two longer. What this should tell the casual observer who was born and raised in our little town of Smock is that we should never be happy with the status quo. We will work and break our backs to be better than the next person. We saw our fathers do that in the mines and the steel mills. And now that brilliant attitude lives inside every person who has the coal dust on their clothes. Spring is a time for renewal.

My prayers go out to the families of the miners in the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. And also, we should remember the families of the miners who were NOT involved in this accident. They know the reality of the dangers down deep in the mine. They are the ones who will rise up in the morning and go back to the pit, despite the new graves that have resulted from that very workplace just a few weeks ago.

They know their station. And they will go back. Just like me and my friend who feel that sometimes life simply isn't fair.

What will we do? We lace up the boots and put on the pit belt and we go to work. Mom and Dad would be proud.