How to Interview for Mine Work (Underground)

When I started in the employment office, after I’d been in there for, I don’t know, maybe six months, they wanted me to start interviewing applicants. I said, “I can interview applicants for the smelter, for all the plant, but I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to underground.” I said, “You want us to interview applicants to see if they’re able? We should go underground.” So we did. We went through every part of underground. We climbed ladders. We went on trams. We crossed grizzlies, which is pretty scary. After that, I could paint a picture to an applicant, what they were getting into. These kids, they’re high school graduates, they’re college suits, summer hires, whatever. They have no clue. They’re from Tucson. They’re from Green Valley. Most kids that age — they think they know everything. I thought I knew everything at that age. So you paint a picture for them, tell them what the job entails. Some of them, I could just tell, they weren’t going to make it. I’d tell them exactly how narrow those ladders were, how big the cages were, how they shook on the way down, how dark it was, how crossing the grizzly — which was like railroad ties about a foot apart, where all the ore drops through, tons and tons of rocks and boulders and dirt — you can go down one of those grizzlies, you can land in the car that’s collecting it, end up in the smelter before anyone knows you’re gone. You paint that picture. What it means to go down there and sweat buckets. You just tell them what it entails.

— interview with Evelyn Gorham, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

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