I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in a great number of places, exposing me to a great number of cultures and a great number of dickheads. And a great number of nice people.

But you remember the dickheads.

I’m trying to remember the dates. I started university in the autumn of 1978. I believe the Uni didn’t start the work term program until you’d already completed your first year (and, by the way, I barely completed my first year).

The work term program alternated work and university in four month stints, with the expectation that the work done during the work term was somewhat related to your program of study.

          The Flin Flon. Northern Manitoba.

So I did a year of university, spend the May – August months working at an oil refinery digging ditches (engineering adjacent adjacent adjacent), then back to school for Sept – Dec. The Jan – April period was a work term. And I believe it was Jan to April 1980 (yup – I’m that old).

And I got a job at a zinc mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba as an electrical apprentice. A bit closer to my studies – I’d decided early I was going to be an electrical engineer.

Flin Flon, by the way, is north. No, further north than that. WAAAAAAY North. January to April is the coldest part of the year there. So cold that snot freezes before it can drip.

I was lucky enough to be working below ground, in the mines, along side an old electrician (and looking back, he was probably younger than I am now). Not a lot of high tech back then. Pumps and lights, for the most part.

And while I can say I left the north on good terms with those I worked with, it did start out with a massive dickhead move by the arsehole I worked with for four months.

This guy, let’s call him Brian because I think his name was Brian. Or it may have been Dennis. It was almost forty years ago.

Brian it is.

Brian is taking me on a tour of the underground part of the mine (there was smelter action and cadmium extraction and stuff like that above ground, but I was below ground most of the time). The inclines and declines (relative to a central shaft, I learned – I first thought it was a “decline” walking down the path, and when I turned around it immediately became an incline. Nope), the lunch and locker rooms, the electrical rooms – all things I’d immediately forget.

We came up to a corner leading to a decline and he stopped. “Hang on a sec – traffic.”

Me, being the trustworthy sort, assumed he meant traffic. Like a cart loaded with ore or something like that. I opened my mouth to respond when there was a godawful KA-BLAM and the ground shook and dust filled the air and Brian (or was it Dennis) almost pissed himself laughing. They were blasting on the face. He knew it, and knowing what I know now about mines, he was more than likely well into an exclusion zone that he should (and I should) not have been in.

Dickhead.

Anyway, I survived. Almost electrocuted myself later in the winter and found out recently that much of that mine is now use to grow most of the medicinal marijuana grown in Canada prior to pot legalisation.

So there’s that.

About the author: Tony McFadden

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