Keep Your Mouth Closed

Proverbs 10:19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

When I was 23 years old I worked a construction job for a few years as a ”Powder Monkey” blowing up rocks for asphalt plants, landfills, and road construction. I worked with a guy named Doc who was 60 years old, the best powder guy in the country, very grumpy, and very mean. It seemed like it was impossible to do anything good enough not to get yelled at, though I tried very hard. I asked my Dad what I should do, and his answer was rather short and to the point, ”Keep your mouth shut and do the best that you can”. We had a big drill that would bore 2 ” holes through solid rock up to 100 feet deep which we would fill with dynamite in order to reduce it to rocks the size of a grapefruit that would go through a rock crusher to make gravel. Between jobs all of our bits would be taken to a machine shop to get sharpened, and Doc would always do it. We went on a job that was a 5-hour drive from the head office, and when we got there we discovered that Doc had forgotten to pick up the sharpened bits. While we were standing there, Doc cussing up a storm, and me trying to hide behind the truck so as not to get yelled at, the ”Big Boss”, the owner of the business, his name was Lester, drove up and asked why we weren’t drilling yet. Doc replied and said, ”Dee forgot to pick up the bits for the machine shop”! I just stood there, saying nothing, not believing what I just heard. Lester handed me the keys to his pickup, told me to go get the bits, to drive as fast as I could without getting a ticket, and don’t stop to eat or sleep. When I got to the machine shop, 4 hours later, it was closed so I curled up and went to sleep on the front seat. After sleeping a couple of hours the shop opened, I got the bits, drove back to the job, and didn’t complain to anybody.

A couple of days later, the ”big boss” Lester and I were working together for a little bit, and he said, ”I know that it was Doc who forgot to pick up the bits, the owner of the machine shop told me that it was always Doc who did that job. I was quite impressed with you and your character in not defending yourself and taking the blame the way that you did. I am going to give you a big raise because I want to keep you working for us.” Woe, that worked out alright.

1 thought on “Keep Your Mouth Closed

  1. Beverlee Hilton

    wow, its been along time since i heard the word “powder monkey’ most people don’t even know what that means. can’t hardly find it on google. my step dad was one and its a tough job. And sometimes you suffer consequences. From inhaling the dirt etc, he got T.B. and had to have one lung taken out. In those days we didn’t know consequences of hard dirty jobs. Glad we know more now.



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