Late in 2016, he got a job offer for a company that was doing blasting work. It was great money, and a steady day shift. But it was in Maryland. He’d have to spend four nights a week in a hotel, leaving Ashley to take care of newborn Deacon. “We agreed I pretty much had to do it,” he said. “I didn’t have any funds coming in.”
But just before he would start this job in Maryland, the Cumberland mine called. They offered him a job as a general inside laborer.
He wasn’t relishing going underground, and at age 38, he’d be doing the same job he did when he first started working in coal mines in his 20s. But this was how it had to be, for now.
Ashley saidys she knew coal mining could be a “scary job,” but she had grown up around it, and accepted the risks it carried.
“My dad and my uncles, they were all coal miners, so I’m kinda used to the fact that it happens,” she said. “I wished he could have found something else, but nothing compares to the pay. And the benefits. We were so lucky having our baby this year.”
Dave would be going back into a mine. There were a lot of questions. Would it be safe? Would the job last? But all those could wait. Dave was home, and he and Ashley could pay their bills. And that was all they could ask for, for now.
We’ll hear the conclusion to Dave Hathaway’s Struggle to Stay story next week.
Thanks to The Allegheny Front for that story. The Allegheny Front is produced out of Pittsburgh and reports on the environment. Music in the audio version of this story was provided by Marisa Anderson.