Friday, February 23, 2018

Scenes From Oggy's Life

I was working next to a Pump Jack in South Texas....

The Pump Jack was operating, so the 440v motor was spinning like a banshee on crack cocaine. The two counterweights were spinning inches from my face and the horse head vacillated overhead. Metallic creaking came from most of the joints as well as as constant sliding sound from the polished rod as it penetrated the tubing. A hot wind blew across the prairie into my face. It felt like a hair dryer but my face was so wet with sweat that any wind gave me some relief.

I was in the 'death zone' because someone needed to feed the metal conduit down the base from one end to the other. Jose, the Master Electrician, was handing me the 10' length of conduit and I was carefully reaching out for it, keeping one eye on the heavy counterweights and one eye on the conduit. Jose was watching too because the counterweight would land on his head if he wasn't careful. We made the exchange and both exhaled as I lay it in place and bolted it down. I waited for the counterweights to pass and then scrambled on my belly over the light brown dirt, under the pipe guard rail, and out of reach of the machinery.

I looked around at the dry prairie and desolate fields of sand. Far off in the distance a buzzard floated over a mesquite tree.

"Well," I said sarcastically, "that was worth risking our lives to do."

Jose nodded with Native American stoicism. When he spoke, and he spoke infrequently while sober, he spoke like a stereotypical wise Indian one might find in a Hollywood Western. His family came from Chihuahua. His family lived in the Valley of Laredo and now traveled far north for work, returning to the valley only twice a year. 

Jose was looking at the empty patch of dirt where our conduit was heading. He had already moved on from the brief drama of staging that last length of conduit. Jose was examining the next step of the project. Jose said nothing. The machinery chugged slowly in endless routine.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.