Monday, October 11, 2010

Things About Me that Might Surprise You #1


I used to work in the mining industry training people in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and minesites in remote locations all around Australia. I taught drafters, surveyors and engineers how to use AutoCAD, an computer aided design software package that allows people to draw engineering drawings on a computer instead of on a drawing board.


I speak a little Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) and gave classes speaking in Indonesian every day at Freeport Gold Mine at 13,000 feet above sea level. The mine employed 15,000 men, and a handful of women (a dozen?). Needless to say everywhere I went I had an escort and the men’s toilet had to be cleared before the guest female (me) could use it.  Of course there was no wearing perfume, makeup, or any clothing that showed too much skin of female lumpy bits. My outfit was khaki baggy clothes, steel-capped boots, and hardhat.


I trained with the most splitting headache imaginable every day, because we had to get up at 4am every morning at 7,000 ft above sea level and drive up to the base of the cable car that took us up to 13,000 ft where the mine engineering offices were. I used to count the steps on the 3 flights of stairs up into the office because it was absolutely exhausting to go up them when the oxygen was so low.


I trained workers in Porgera Gold Mine in the highlands of PNG a week before a massive riot ended up in people being hurt, raped and buildings and vehicles trashed. The next job the drafters had with their new skills was to design and build a machine gun tower to protect the compound from the rioters… they sent me photos.


I can show you funny photos of me in the highlands with the natives…


And photos of me wearing my NON-catwalk outfit, and my gracious trainees.


I am always thankful to the senior engineer who demanded all the workers remove their pin-up posters from around the walls before the honoured guest came. This was not always the case at many minesites I went to… and there is no amount of swearing you can shock me with after the blue language that I have heard every day at these places!