Posted by Lewis on June 21, 2004
In Reply to: "At the coal face..." posted by ESC on June 21, 2004
: : What does this mean? It described the way a woman worked at her business in a large corporation.
: : Thank you.
: I'm not sure. Here something I found by googling:
: "This part, the shearer, does the actual cutting of the coal from the coal face. The shearer has two rotating bits that cut into the coal face and works back and forth across the face, much like when you eat an ear of corn on the cob, except only this is way harder than the corn and much much dirtier."
In UK business terminology being 'at the coal face' is used figuratively of any worker or manager who is in touch with the day to day processes of the business rather than having ceased to have involvement with the public or the production.
it is a way of saying that the person is 'in touch' and appreciates the actualities of the business rather than being a 'bean-counter' (accountant) a 'paper pusher' (administrator) or a 'fat-cat' (overpaid manager).
obviously the original 'coal-face' is a mining term to describe an underground worker that actually cuts the coal from the rock - but the sense of direct involvment with the core of the business is the important element, rather than it being dangerous or dirty.