A Visit To The Mine
Today the top engineers were down with us. Some sort of order has been received from the management to lay new tunnels, and the engineers came to take the very first measurements . How young these people are and how different they are! They have all developed freely, and their clearly defined nature shows itself unbound at a young age.
One, black-haired, lively, lets his eyes run everywhere.
A second person with a notepad makes notes while walking, looks around, compares, makes notes.
A third man, with his hands in his coat pockets so that everything about him is tight , walks upright; preserve dignity; only in the continual biting of his lips does the impatient, unsuppressible youth show itself.
A fourth gives the third explanations that the third does not ask for; smaller than him, running next to him like a tempter, he seems, with his index finger in the air, to recite a litany of everything that can be seen here.
A fifth person, perhaps the highest in rank, will not tolerate accompaniment; is now in front, now in the back; society follows him; he is pale and weak; responsibility has hollowed out his eyes; he often presses his hand to his forehead in thought.
The sixth and seventh walk a little hunched over, head close to head, arm in arm, in familiar conversation; if it weren't for our coal mine and our workplace in the deepest tunnel, one might believe that these bony, beardless, bulbous-nosed gentlemen were young clergymen. One of them usually laughs to himself with a cat-like purr; the other, also smiling, takes the floor and gives some rhythm with his free hand. How sure must these two gentlemen be of their position, what merit they must have already earned to our mine, despite their youth, that they here, on such an important inspection, under the eyes of their boss, only with their own eyes, or at least at leastto be so steadfast in dealing with matters unrelated to the task at hand. Or should it be possible that, in spite of all the laughter and all the inattention, they very well notice what is necessary? One hardly dares to give a definite judgment about such gentlemen.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the eighth, for example, is incomparably more involved than this, indeed more than all the other gentlemen. He has to touch everything and knock on it with a small hammer, which he pulls out of his pocket over and over again and keeps there again and again. Sometimes, despite his elegant clothes, he kneels down in the dirt and pats the floor, then again only while walking on the walls or the ceiling above his head. Once he lay down for a long time and lay there still; we already thought that an accident had happened; but then he jumpedwith a small flinch of his slender body. So again he had just done one examination. We think we know our mine and its stones, but what this engineer is constantly investigating here is incomprehensible to us.
A ninth person pushes a kind of stroller in front of him, in which the measuring devices lie. Extremely valuable devices, embedded deep in the most delicate cotton wool. The servant was supposed to push this wagon , but it was not entrusted to him; an engineer had to come and he likes to do it, as you can see. He's probably the youngest, maybe he doesn't understand all the devices yet, but his gaze is always on them, sometimes he almost runs the risk of bumping the car against a wall.
But there is another engineer who walks by the car and prevents it. He apparently understands the equipment from the ground up and seems to be its real custodian. From time to time he takes out a part of the apparatus without stopping the car, looks through it, unscrews or closes it, shakes and taps, holds to his ear and listens; and finally, while the driver mostly stands still, carefully puts the little thing, hardly visible from a distance, back into the car. This engineer is a little domineering, but only in the name of the apparatus. Ten paces in front of the car, at a wordless finger sign, we should move to the side, even where there is no room to evade.
Behind these two gentlemen walks the idle servant. The masters, as it goes without saying with their great knowledge, have long since put aside all arrogance, the servant, on the other hand, seems to have picked it up within himself. With one hand behind his back, with the other in front of him stroking his gilded buttons or the fine cloth of his livre skirt, he often nods to the right and left, as if we had said hello and he answered, or as if he assumed that we would had greeted, but could not verify it from its height. Of course we don't greet him, but looking at him one would almost believe that it would be something monstrous to be a clerk at the Bergdirektion. We laugh behind him, but since even a clap of thunder couldn't make him turn around, it remains in our respect as something incomprehensible.
Little more is done today; the interruption was too long; such a visit takes away all thoughts of work. It is all too tempting to look at the gentlemen in the darkness of the trial tunnel into which they have all disappeared. Our work shift is also coming to an end soon; we will no longer watch the gentlemen return.