Sunday, December 9, 2012

News Flash

Did anyone else read that this part of Texas is the fastest growing oil field in the world right now? $28 Billion dollars is pouring into a part of the continent previously famous for a bat cave and a store that is called "Guns and Liquor" because it sells both guns and liquor.

This is a quiet and deserted area and the influx of workers has trailer parks springing up everywhere. Really, the only occupation that isn't in demand right now is environmental engineering. My company had plans for a wind turbine farm that was delayed because a damn sparrow or rare bat uses that area for migration. But everything else is in demand. The big money is in logistics and city planning because $28 billion dollars is more money than has been spent here since Texas was a Republic and that's how much is going to be spent in the next few years.

I was a bit puzzled by the mechanics I met back in Corpus Christi who couldn't save $500 a year and couldn't afford $200 for tools but had repair skills to spare. Why not relocate to the oil field? And I was puzzled why the few oil field workers I met who had gotten out of that line of work told unbelievable stories about $2000 weekly checks but seemed content slaving for $11/hr. Those mysteries have been answered as my life now revolves around slowing down for ambulances on their way to fatal car wrecks and putting on my assisted oxygen mask so I can venture into a deadly gas cloud...and I get 1 hour a day to relax at home. We're all walking a tight rope of disaster here and the money they made didn't save their marriages or make their kids grow up well adjusted. We're all one blown out tire from death. And 80 hour work weeks for months on end turn your brain into mush.

Recall that I left Austin because I saw a ranch hand job in Tilden and took a chance that I'd cease my endless wandering. Well, the man I talked to about that job had retired from commercial truck driving in the oil field. He said he made thousands of dollars a week and I because I was actually starving and broke and drifting toward death I stammered, "Why would you quit that job to feed wild deer and hogs?"
He drawled, "Well, Oggy, now I sleep good at night."
And that was his only explanation.
I thought to myself, "I wake up every morning feeling like Mike Tyson has been punching my kidneys...and I'm broke. What am I missing?"
Interestingly, I now drive to Tilden mere miles from that ranch to work in the same oil field I drove through to meet him and his words make great sense to me as I sleep good at night (on my new silky 600 thread count sheets and new mattress) but the night is too short and my knees doth protest too much in the pre-dawn hours. His wife probably doesn't pray for his safety every morning but my coworkers all pray to Jesus to watch over us and bring us home safe. Since it can't hurt, I also pray. And the mechanic in Corpus wanted to have some kind of existence at the end of the day to visit his grandchildren and go to family functions. None of that happens with a double-time existence. Of course I'm in heaven because I went from totally nothing, hunting for a job above $9/hr, showering from a faucet in a public bathroom, counting my pennies...to an apartment with a piano and carpool partner to a job that showers me with cash for driving 5 hours a day just to get to the job site. But normal people would find this job untenable or else they would die trying to fit in.

It's madness to learn that this is ground zero for oil exploration in the era of oil exploration and I'm in the business of oil exploration. I'm tempted to say it was luck but luck had nothing to do with my cable harness experience and the fact I was in Texas in the first place and hunting for a job and determined to find a good job and went after this job like a man possessed. This is the job I was looking for in 1992 when the Merchant Marines almost killed me for $40 a day and a bulging disk in my spine. 20 years later fortune has found me at the last possible second to spare me from disaster.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.