Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Balfour Memorial Mining Method

You will need:

1) A large amount of chewing gum
2) Cheap slippers
3) One extra large Baggie
4) Miner’s hat with built in flashlight
5) Tweezers
6) Magnet
7) Brother
8) Guile


Start with six large packs of Doublemint gum. No, better make it twelve. Doublemint is the gum of choice because it’s chewed consistency is perfect. It is also my favorite. Begin chewing, two sticks at a time. Chew until the gum starts to taste of repetition and you find yourself snapping it; gum that snaps has lost the excess sugar and reached the correct stage of stickiness. As soon as the pieces in your mouth are appropriately desugared, take them out and park them, then start in on two more. If you happen to be a lawyer, Mick Jagger or Stephen Tyler, you can probably handle more than two sticks at a time and thus speed up the process considerably.

Once you have all the gum suitably desugared and softened, take off your shoes and begin to spread the parked gum across the bottom of your soles. You want to press down enough that the gum isn’t going to fall off the shoe, but still leave quite a bit of loose gum. It is an art, at which you will grow more proficient with practice.

This is where the cheap slippers come in. You will need to wear them until you reach the floor of the mine where you will be working. Once the bottoms of your shoes are quite covered with gum, you are ready to go. Wearing slippers, carrying shoes, descend into the mine and go directly toward a site that someone else is actively mining.

Just before arriving at the claim, switch your slippers for your shoes, stash the slippers in some deep dark crack and proceed into the claim area.

There are several, obvious, advantages to this method of mining. The most obvious and most important is that you don’t need to discover gold by yourself. You don’t need to make guesses at where that gold might be, mine false leads or empty rock. You don’t need to stake a claim or hammer rock or chisel stone or shovel slag. All you need to do is wear your miner’s hat, with the built in flashlight, and wander around a site where someone else has already been mining. Pretend to be interested in their work. Make appropriate noises and say positive things.

Samples:
“Wow!”
“This was one tough vein! You must be in great shape to have been able to move this amount of rock!”
“It must have taken a lot of muscles to get that all that gold out of the mountain and then out of the mine!”
“How did you EVER know to drill right here? You are completely brilliant!”

Miners are far less likely question what you are doing if you are giving them compliments all the while. It’s the way miners are. It’s the way everyone is.

Now all you have to do is hand out compliments and stroll around. After a fair amount of time, definitely before the miner starts to wonder what they heck you are doing, say good-bye and head topside. Switch back into your slippers and put your shoes in the extra large Baggie which you are carrying in your pocket.

Now there remains only to extract the gold flakes you picked up off the floor from the gum. This can be done effectively with tweezers and a magnet. The ideal scenario is to make this a family operation and make your brother do this part.

~

A system very similar to this mining method was evidently carried out for years in the Balfour Jewelry plant near where I lived in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Balfour makes all kinds of jewelry, but is best know for being the world’s leading manufacturer of school rings. It seems that this method of obtaining gold was quietly going on for what amounted to generations before Balfour finally figured it out. Nowadays the employees of the Balfour plant have to strip down to nothing and change into paper suits to do their work. They wear paper slippers on their feet which they must turn in at the end of each shift. They are not allowed to chew gum.

One of the most entertaining things about this story is that when the Balfour plant finally got wise, there was, simultaneously, a substantial jump in the number of people who applied for state and county services. Under the section of the application which asked why they needed the aid, people stated that they just could not make ends meet since they had been forced to stop pilfering from Balfour. The employees were really quite miffed. One, quoted in the local newspaper, said: “It’s been a source of income for my family for three generations. We don’t know what we’ll do now, it is practically impossible to live on just the salary Balfour pays.”


©Edwina Peterson Cross

2 Comments:

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Heather Blakey said...

Quiet Winnie! Keep it down to a whisper and don't let this story get out of the mine or we will have all sorts of dubious people applying the Balfour Memorial Mining Method. I am keeping Mum about my own sources of inpsiration, but suffice to say I have a bit of Chinese in me. I just love working the tailings.

 
At 5:57 PM, Blogger Shiloh said...

Winnie you're, witty and brilliant. LOL. But I'm afraid I have too much of an ethical, honest streak in me to try the BMMM. It just isn't worth the chase or gain in the end if I didn't work at the mining of my own gold the hard, honest way.

 

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