In June of 1978 I left an engineering college in Missouri on a 750cc “Hondamatic”. You will likely have to look that one up. After 3 years of partying, losing scholarships, and underperforming on every level in a university environment, even I had figured out it was time to grow up.
72 hours later, after laying the motorcycle down less than a mile from home, an initial stop in Palestine, Tx. and one wide eyed trip about half way around the biggest city loop (Hwy 610) I’d ever seen, I found myself standing beside the bulk plant at midnight dressed in a slicker suit, hard hat, safety goggles and safety glasses looking up at the sky literally asking myself “where the he– am I and how did I get here”?
The question I should have asked was “where am I going”?
After two years of slogging in the mud in a 24 hour / day call out job, along the Texas Gulf coast I went back to college and finished my Petroleum Engineering degree. Moral: there is no “grow the heck up” pill you can take like starting out as a worm’s helper and working yourself up to service supervisor for an oilfield service company. How many times have I wished I could give that pill to my own child (she’ll hate me for that comment)? I’d have never made it if it hadn’t been for all the encouraging hard working people I met at that district office.
For a select few of you who have read this far, you already know you can truly say you understand what 110+ billable oilfield service hours per week does to you. It tests your faith. It tests your body. It tests your spirit. It tests your family. After you take that test, the phone rings, you have one hour to get to the shop and it tests you again and again and again. Even at the risk of offending some, if you haven’t had those experiences you really and truly have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m not saying there aren’t other tests in our lives. I’m merely referencing what a subset of this oilfield community understands and what the rest of the folks merely reference over coffee in the nice clean offices in the city.
However, I wasn’t writing merely to give you the oilfield version of my “I walked 2 miles to school in the snow” story. What I wanted to emphasize most of all is why none of you all should give up hope, in this horrific industry down turn.
At no time in this past 37 years did I really have a clue what was coming next. I was over confident. I was ignorantly optimistic that it would all work out. What was most important was I was watched over by God. What were those blessings? They were the people I met. I was mentored many times, in many different ways, by people who were blessed with gifts far greater than mine. They were tolerant when I was intolerant. They were considerate of others when I was brashly inconsiderate. They taught me over and over the importance of honesty and loyalty and hard work. They stayed true to their craft, their goals, and this crazy oil and gas industry. These blessings with names, became my family. Those relationships, other than my own family, may very well be my only notable legacy.
If each of you will reflect, I’ll bet you that you have the telephone numbers of some people exactly like I am describing on your cell phones right now. Great people who see in you the greatness and potential that you have. Call them up. Tell them how important they have been to you and how important they still are to you.
These people will be why you succeed in this oil and gas industry. They will be the people who reach out to you when you need it or they need you. They, and yourself, will be the people who figure out how to pull this oil and gas industry back from the brink of disaster when the turn comes. Don’t get fixated on the oil price, your job title, or what you may have to do for a while during this down turn to make ends meet.
Put in those 110 hours and stay true to those people who have supported you this far. The outcome will be better than you ever imagined.
Where am I going? I’m going right here. With some of the best stories of an amazing career, helped by some of the best people in the world. Happy to know I belong in an industry where great people get up and work really hard every day doing jobs most people have never heard of in environments most people simply won’t tolerate. I want to say thank you to everyone I’ve met along the way, and I want to extend my hand to all of you working in this oil field that I haven’t met yet. Each of you are the reason I know I’m blessed.