Meet Bertie

Bertie opened the door, climbed out of the cab and started down the steps to the ground.  It had been a long tough day.  She couldn’t believe she had gotten stuck.   It had rained for days.  Everything was mud and slush.   She wasn’t the first to get stuck, but she was the only woman on the crew.  I shouldn’t have gotten stuck, she thought.  She had never gotten the truck stuck before and she had been driving a haul truck at Cargo Mines for nearly two years.   It hadn’t taken the crew long to get her and the truck back in service, but it was lost production time none-the-less. She reached the ground and peered up at the Caterpillar 793.  Just the truck tires alone stood twice as tall as Bertie.

“Cinnamon rolls tomorrow, Bertie, home-made!” yelled one of the guys.  The rule was if you got a piece of equipment stuck you had to provide donuts for the crew the following day.

She reached her locker, unlaced her boots, unbuttoned her Carhartt jacket and removed her hard hat.  Bertie wasn’t a coal miner’s daughter, she was a coal miner and all she wanted was for the day to end.   Her face was dirty. Her dark hair, although cut short and stylish, was plastered to her head.  Coal dust-covered everything.  It was in her ears, under her fingernails and permeated her clothes.   She threw her work clothes into her locker and stepped into the shower. The twelve-hour shifts were tough, really tough, but thank goodness her three teens were self-sufficient.  And the extra days off in between actually gave her more time with her kids.

Despite her frustration at getting stuck she thought, by Gawd, I am proud of myself.  Two years ago I was 52, on welfare, barely able to feed my kids with nothing more than a high school education to put on my resume.  Today I drive mammoth haul trucks with 16 cylinder engines, churning over 2000 horsepower and carrying payloads of over 200 tons.  And, who would have thought I would be earning in excess of $50,000 a year.

Bertie stepped from the shower, pulled on her ‘not your daughter’s’ jeans, a soft pink sweater and slipped into her loafers.  She checked the mirror, fluffed her nearly dry hair, added some lip gloss, a little eyeliner and thought, well, I still look fifty-ish but it’s a damn good fifty-ish.   Her confidence restored she headed for home stopping at the market just long enough to get supplies for baking those cinnamon rolls.

(This post was written  for a prompt on Ann Linquist Writes blog–check out link on sidebar of this page.)

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