If there were
one piece of advice I would give to prospective Kalgoorlie workers, it would be to get hired in Perth. The company that I worked for provides housing for free, a daily food allowance, and the convenience of company cars/clothes. You spend very little and save pretty much everything you earn, and the entire philosophy of working a shitty mining job (i.e. to earn le moolah) is vindicated. Not so the poor unfortunates who find themselves blowing in to Kalgoorlie without a predetermined preoccupation. They must pay prices for hostel accommodation that would be hilarious if they weren’t so tragic, buy food at roughly one-and-a-half-times Perth cost, and get themselves to and from site. And the worst part? The recruitment agencies that take in these guys take a chunk of their pay, so they aren’t even earning as much as those coming up from Perth. It’s kind of screwy.
We had two of these recruitment agency workers with us in the last week of our last trip. The previous trips we had two others, one of whom was adequate and the other completely vacant. Vacant in the sense that there was really no knowing what functions were being processed behind those eyes. He could have been a genius, or an idiot. We’ll never know. In any case, this trip we managed to score two decent guys: Dean and Boss. This particular tale concerns Boss.
Boss was a big dude of Kiwi, or possibly Polynesian, descent. His actual name started with an ‘O’ and went on for several dozen syllables, hence the shortened version. He smoked big rollies, was quick to show off his missing front tooth, and knew how to tie a knot due to an extensive employment history in marquee construction. More useful than that, he was confident in everything he did and wasn’t afraid to do something without verification from the (actual) boss. So, kind of rough, but knowledgeable. The hired labour equivalent of The Dude, if you will.
The other piece of this story comes from the fact that, for most of the trip, we had a mice problem in the crib room on site. For those that haven’t been on a mine site, a crib room is simply a demountable room with electricity provided either by mains or a diesel generator. Ours had a pie warmer (brilliant) fridge and microwave for our lunches, and the tangible presence of a whole tonne of poop covering every conceivable surface greeting us every single morning. We thought it was a rat problem at first, but eventually we spotted a couple of mice scurrying from the scene of the crime. Promises were made to put down traps, but they never materialised, and we were sent gagging from the smell most days. The breakthrough came when I discovered that we had inadvertently made a mouse trap by leaving the rubbish bins without liners overnight. Prior to that, the mice had always been able to climb out of their little green feast hall by gripping up the liners and jumping out. I came in to a lack of horrid odour and four mice scurrying around in a panic at the bottom of one of our bins.
I put the bin outside with the lid on, unsure of what to do but wanting the others to see the culprits. Everyone had a chuckle, but each put the lid back on and the mice were left alone throughout the day .
Until lunch time.
We had called it to go back to work, everyone gathering up their pie wrappers and energy drink cans and shuffling off to the 4WDs. Whereupon Boss walked on over to the bin containing the mice, picked it up, and shook the living hell out of it. We watched on as he put it down, opened it up, observed that one of them still going, and picked it up for a second shake. This time he peered inside, pronounced the quartet extinguished, and walked away.
(NB: For those of you that might be horrified at the animal cruelty described here, the chances are pretty good that we’d have left Ratsak out the next time they got in. Or worse still, not opened the bin for a few days in the hope that they would silently starve to death, wresting the kill decision from us. So, y’know, consolation or something? :/)