Choreographed Chilean mine rescue hit rough patch

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by admin on October 20, 2010

If you ever wondered about the addictive power of nicotine, put this in your pipe and smoke it as the saying used to be before the tobacco police made smoking possibly the most expensive vice in the world today.

When 33 Chilean miners had spent two months trapped underground and rescuers had managed to get an airshaft down through a kilometre of rock, the miners were asked what they wanted most of all.

After food and water needs were met, they were offered psychological counselling, unlimited varieties of medications from Prozac down to simple Aspirin. Anything, in short, for the trapped miners.

What did they want after 60 days trapped in the bowels of the earth?

Cigarettes.

That’s what they wanted most of all.

And did they get cigarettes?

No, they didn’t. Some sociological do-gooder assumed that the first thing the buried 33 would want to do with their spare time awaiting rescue would be to try to stop smoking.  It seemed like a good idea, and with redeeming benefits to society in general.

They sent down nicotine patches.

Nicotine patches? Let’s imagine the thought process that produced that decision: “These poor boys are all alone in the dark and trying to maintain their composure while cooped up in the space of a two-room apartment. We must do something to help them stay sane. That’s it. It’s a good time to quit smoking, since they have nothing else to do.”

Oh, to have been a fly on the tunnel walls when the first nicotine patches came down from above. The profanity must have been deafening.

The miners made it clear they wanted cigarettes, and to hell with appearances. They got their smokes and one can only hope that the misguided social Samaritan got what he/she deserves for outstanding stupidity.

Incidentally, if you were wondering about the way the miners, the rescue workers and the assembled families were portrayed on television, wonder no more.

The miners came up wearing identical green coveralls, sporting $400 eye-protecting sunglasses, to be met by rescue workers wearing identical but red coveralls and were greeted by well-dressed and coiffed family members. And everybody seemed to have been given a miner’s helmet to add atmosphere to the on-site scene.

The whole thing – the initial rescue attempt, the creation of a tiny tent city, the lighting and the stage-managed interviews with each upcoming miner – reeked of show-business professionalism.

And why not?  The President of Chile was running the show from the start. His previous career? Television executive.

They say that a series of books are to come out. There is talk of a movie and, of course, there will be television programs featuring more than one of the survivors. It will bring new meaning to the concept of reality television.

I, for one, hope all 33 miners get filthy rich from the ordeal. Their ability to endure nobly deserves no less.