Monday, April 21, 2008

Bloom where you're planted

First of all I'm thankful I'm not working in the oil field anymore. Someone sent me this photo with the caption "Storm in a west Texas oilfield", I don't know about its authenticity, but I'm glad I wasn't there. I worked in a number of jobs throughout my adult life, and most had some level of danger involved. I think I developed a need for an adrenaline rush, and when I don't get one I feel cheated. I have been retired for over five years now and I am weaning myself, and accepting the minimalist version through vicarious mental participation. I do recall those days of yesteryear, and am relieved I don't have to live them again. After six years in law enforcement, I got fed up with some of the administrative wrangling that interfered with the day to day job of crime fighting and quit. I got a job teaching Law Enforcement in college and went back to University and got an advanced degree. I taught for about five years before I realized we were near enough to poverty to qualify for government assistance and decided to seek more lucrative employment. The oil field was booming. They were paying good money for folks with degrees who wanted to train as field supervisors, so I signed up. They said we would start at the bottom and work our way up. We were being paid for our educations, but we needed to learn the job from the inside out. The first day I painted the floor of the shop. I thought to myself they were literal in their approach. I hustled pipe, drove semi-trucks, stayed up for days, and was filthy most of the time. I did not have one ounce of fat on my frame. The guys I was training to supervise loved to get one over on the six month wonders with the college degrees. They nicknamed me, "the professor." We linked strings of pipe together with eared couplings at the end of each ten foot joint using a four pound sledge hammer to tighten the connection. "Righty tighty, lefty loosey." When I was too tired to remember the jingle, I would sometimes pound the ear in the wrong direction as we broke down the string. Some grinning hand would always come by with advice like, "It ain't gonna get any tighter professor." I recall one night in January when the temperature was well below freezing and sleet covered every exposed surface, I stood on top of a pump truck and pumped heavy mud down a hole to keep it from blowing. Most of the crew was down with the flu and I was having to pull extra shifts to get the job finished. There in the Mississippi darkness I wondered about all the hours I put in on my advanced degree in Psychology and how it would help me figure out why I was covered with ice and freezing to death. Shortly after that night, God took pity on me and the bottom fell out of the oil industry. I immediately got back into law enforcement and finished my career there. I never complained about the hours, the discomfort, or anything else. I experienced worse and was glad to be where I was. Have a great week.

The secret of eternal youth is arrested development. - Alice Roosevelt Longworth