Oil-Patch-Gas

Just because I wrote a book about falling down, that doesn’t mean that’s all I’ve ever done. I just sat down one day, started writing, and that’s what happened. But even in the midst of my many fall downs, plenty of individual experiences have helped to ease the greater pain. Like the last go I had in the oilpatch.

I hated working in that industry, mostly because it robbed me of the rest of my life, but I had many good experiences and met many good people there. It also made available to me and my family many things that been previously out of reach. I will never return, but I will remember that not all of it was shit.

The final adventure in oil-and-gas was as a welder’s helper, to a friend I've had for years. Two buddies on the job together. And it was fun.

The project consisted of fabricating and welding a drainage system for an oil-extraction plant. Many had come before us and failed miserably. But the crew we were on, a collection of misfit super-heroes,effortlessly crushed the challenge-at-hand because we worked together as a family. It didn’t matter what field anyone was in, there were no infantile divisions between trades. We all knew the project was something we had to tackle together, so we did.

It was the winter after the summer that I had crashed my dirt-bike, a catasrophe that massively complicated mine and my familys life. While I was working in the frozen north, teetering on the fine edge of making all the wrong decisions with regards to my wife and kids, they were living on our diabolical boat and in the suite of a friend. Sneaking around to both because they weren’t supposed to be living at either.I was far, far away in the stark, dirty-white loneliness of a northern winter.

Even with the companionship of the good people I had there, nothing could make up for the emptiness of being away from home. And no words can accurately describe that feeling to someone who has never been in the same situation. Drinking masked the pain. My friend and I drank a lot. More than a lot. It was exceedingly excessive and we excelled to the extreme.

We worked, we drank, and we spent a lot of time in the welding truck, watching so many movies and shows that it’s a wonder we actually accomplished anything. But we did. And to celebrate the progress we had made by Christmas break, our lovely little band of lunatics decided we should have a party at the rented house of our foremen.

I will admit that I attended the shindig. I will admit that, but then things get hazy really fast. Probably for the best, as Canadian oilpatch workers are not faint-hearted, and whatever we did was most likely criminal. Fun, but criminal. And again, excessive to a degree that the word itself pales in comparison with the actions it weakly tries to describe. But enough of all that before I incriminate myself or anyone else.

The morning after the gathering we all jump into our work vehicles and drunkenly speed off down the frozen, early-morning roads to our place of employ.

Before assuming our duties on the job-site, a daily safety meeting was required. This morning was no exception. My friend and myself stagger into the meeting, still obviously smashed out of our heads, my smashed head and face covered in dried blood that must have leaked out the night before. Well, even in a tight-knit family like ours there's always an outcast, someone who just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the siblings. That putrescent, pus-gutted turd ratted us out.

Down comes big bad safety-douche from his important headquarters in the big building up the road. Obsequious toady in tow. Fat Bastard and his lackey storm through the plant, throwing their combined desk-weight around while trying to get members of our big, loyal family to roll over on each other. To no avail. In frustration, Safety-Douche picks on the only native welder of the bunch and sends him packing. Then, feeling proud after establishing some authority, Captain Cockbag and his minion scurry back to the warm confines from whence they came. Or so I would guess. They generally never accomplished anything worthwhile, so I'm assuming this display of perceived usefulness must have puffed out their pigeon chests somewhat.

It was to no effect in the long run though. Our foreman was a pitbull, and he had our native buddy reinstated before the two knobs had returned to their offices. Haha. They should have never left the cozy confines of their cockroach cuckoon. At least we would have saved our collective disrespect for someone else that day.

There was never any intention of actually working that day, so there was no danger of a safety incident. We had it well under control, like we had every aspect of the entire show under control. Interfere and see what happens. What happens is: you come, you see, and then you wriggity-wreck yourself. Shoulda chiggity-checked that ass. Your ineffectiveness shines out like a beacon of hopelessness. The only thing you almost accomplished was overturned before you even finished the five-minute drive back to your hole. And we kept on keepin’ on.

The best part of the entire débâcle was that the two monkeys responsible for getting the “man” called in, my friend and myself, missed it all. After the safety meeting we had quickly found a perfect little hideaway at one end of the plant, tucked the welding rig in tight, covered up the windows, turned on the heat, and went to sleep. While the inquisition was on the warpath, the two of us were having a warm nap. We got told about the rampage many hours later.

The gas plant job lasted into early spring, and we absolutely killed it. That was one of the best crews I've ever been on. Our company was let go anyway due to the fact that we were only a replacement crew for the previous set of yahoos that had failed to produce. Their last failure sealed the fate of the company we worked for, and the contract was lost before we had even arrived. During the days before the end, many expensive things were carried off, and many, many laughs were had. The weather warmed up as the job slowed down, and we left the site as spring arrived.

That was the last time I worked in oil and gas. A pretty good final kick at the can. My liver is in slightly better form now as I don’t have the money to drink that hard. Also, I'm not in desperate need of daily numbness (a prescription for the perpetually lonely). I spend every day with my best friend (my wife), and I like to be mostly sober for that. “Mostly” being a very subjective term. I am a writer. Life is different, difficult and uncertain, but I accept the trade-off.