Dream of: 08 May 1997 (2) "Miners"

Another fellow and I had decided to go off traveling together around the world. I figured we would visit as many countries as we could, staying a while in each country. Since we would probably start off in South America, I pulled out a map of that continent and began perusing it. I focused on Venezuela, which seemed to stand out on the map, and began looking at the outline of the country.

***

I was standing in a small Venezuelan town. Another fellow, a teenager, who lived in the town was standing with me, describing a job which I could have if I wanted it. I knew I needed some money, and I had the idea that it would be interesting to work in different countries as I went along. However I had some doubt about whether I actually wanted to take this job: working in a mine.

It was early in the morning and other mine workers had already started to gather around me, waiting for the day of work to begin. They were all quite young (none more than 20 years old). They all looked uneducated and unskilled – downtrodden. I was surprised to also see a group of six or seven young black men, standing in a row away from the others. I hadn't expected to see blacks in Venezuela, but here they were.

We were all waiting for the boss to arrive. I was a bit apprehensive of what he might be like. I had the feeling he might be rather militaristic, and I was afraid that if I started on this job, it would be somewhat like enlisting in the military service and it might be difficult to leave. Besides, just the idea of going down into a mine made me nervous and I was beginning to have serious doubts about what I was doing here.

Suddenly the boss walked up. He wasn't more that 25 years old and dressed in a brown uniform. Without saying anything to me, the boss immediately walked up to my young friend and began talking with him. They seemed on good terms and I felt somewhat relieved by the easy manner of the boss.

As the boss and my friend continued talking, I noticed that they had both pulled out small cans containing chewing tobacco and each had put a large wad of the moist tobacco into their mouths. I felt disgusted as I watched them both begin chewing and spitting out the brown liquid onto the ground. Then just what I was afraid of happened: the boss turned to me and offered me some of the tobacco. I fended him back with my hand. I didn't want to offend him, but I certainly wasn't going to put any of the foul-looking tobacco into my mouth. I pointed out that I was already chewing some chewing gum, and I even spat onto the ground to show that I had something in my mouth. I was surprised to see that my spittle was also slightly brown, and I wondered if that was because of the chewing gum. I knew I had bought the gum here in Venezuela and I wondered if there was something wrong with it. Perhaps I shouldn't even be chewing the gum here.

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