One dreary day in 1990, I stumbled upon a monstrous beast called a coal stacker. In many ways it reminded me of a giant brontosaurus out of the Jurassic era. It was a large machine in proportion, used at electrical plants to transport coal from one area to the next. Its intricacies are even more difficult for me to describe in tangible words, because of the magnitude of this apparatus. There were four levels with stairs to each part of this beast.
The grizzly boss’s name was George, and I helped him set up the company blasting machine. It had a long hose with a spray gun at the end, just like what you see at a car wash. This cleaning contraption had a generator and a large tank where you store the water. When you cut the motor on the hose pressurizes, supercharging the water at an extreme force to wherever it’s aimed at. Our task entailed cleaning the coal off every part of this looming monstrosity. George had a bad attitude that day which added to my nervous condition.
After a lengthy time of working at the top level of the coal stacker, I motioned for George, “Can you take over for now? I am getting tired and need a break.”
In his hateful demeanor He yelled, “Why sure Ronny, I don’t have anything else in my plans!”
He jerked the spray gun from my hand. I inwardly cowered biting my lip, silently thinking I would not speak to him for the rest of the day.
I then made my way down to check the water in the tank. I clamored down to the first level, a dizzying twenty feet off the ground. To be safe I avoided the steps, because water was coming down the dinosaur’s neck. I opted to take a nearby ladder that was fastened to the nemesis. I hurriedly made my way down, then all I remember is free falling to the ground.
My body jolted as I landed on the concrete slab under the coal stacker. I laid there stunned as to what had just transpired. The ladder only went down four feet from its top rung.
The only alternative that ran through my mind at that moment was to turn off the blazing motor of the blasting machine. I had the feeling that I would have been lying there all day, if someone even noticed me. George would never hear me or see where I had fallen since he was still working at the top level on the other side.
I was fully conscious as I cried out to God with every ounce of strength I could muster, “God in Heaven, please guide Your Angels to help me make it to the truck, so that I can get George’s attention!”
All of the sudden I felt unseen agents from God lift me up from the ground to standing position. I walked very slowly as I realized I was in extreme pain. I made my way to the truck, turning off the motor to the blasting machine. After a several minute wait, George came down from the coal stacker.
He fumed as I told him that I had fell, “I just do not believe you. You are making an ill attempt to get out of working!”
I remained resistant to his verbal abuse as I got slowly into the truck. He got in the truck, cut on the ignition and drove rather fast. It seemed as if He was purposely hitting every bump on the dirt road.
He snickered haughtily, “How are you feeling now?” I just silently sat there anxious to get home so I could go to the doctor.
I made it to the medical clinic, where I was immediately transported to the Emergency Room. The X-rays showed that I had two fractured vertebra and splattered one.
The surgeons were able to fuse some of my hip bone to the fractures, and repair the damaged cartilage - placing two rods in my lower back. My family prayed and hoped for the best. I am thankful that God and His angels had been in the room guiding the operation. George even called afterwards and apologized for being so hostile.
Through rehabilitation and in a year’s time, I was able to go back to work with only limited mobility to not lift anything over thirty pounds.
Authors Note: Google “Coal Stacker” to see images of it.