Who’s normal??

Sometimes I get to feeling like I’m normal. Then, I remember I’m only 1 of 7 billion inhabitants on this fruitful orb. Of that number a little over a billion are Chinese. Another billion plus are Indians. India Indians not American Injuns (no offense.) Americans are a small fraction of the total.

Talk of Indians reminds me of the time I told my rig manager, an Indian, the India kind, when I was in India, that the rig had engine problems.Waterbuffalo

Something got lost in translation there.

Hindus revere cows as a source of food, but wouldn’t dare eat one. Though I know of one man, Raju by name and Hindu Caste by religion and lot, who ate a bite of fillet out of curiosity one night. He likes his medium-well now.

They believe in reincarnation, too. I don’t know exactly how all of that works, but what you come back as after you’re a human would bother me … was I to believe in such things. My luck I’d return as a dung beetle.

Some years ago the company decided I should attend a sales training course. Why someone who drills holes in the ground would need such an experience eluded me. My wife laughed when she heard. Anyway it turned out to be a fast and furious lesson in psychology and sociology—driving, amiable, analytical, and expressive human traits and government/family versus individualism/money.

ChinaI discovered I’m 90% driver plus a 10% mix of the other three, and I lean heavily to the money and individualism side of the chart. I believe our government should deliver the mail, defend the borders, not the boarders, and leave me and mine alone, period. Nothing more.

My learnings never explained why I found my Indian roughnecks, all three of them, in bed with my assistant driller one night. He was an Indian and a man. They were under the covers, curled up together, watching a Hindi musical … in a single bed. Arab men, Indian men and Filipino men hold hands in public. The latter I can stomach.

Or why one of my Sri Lankan roughnecks walked in my office one day with an armload of Cokes and offered me one. He’d just been informed about the birth of his first son, and he wanted to have a drink of soda and celebrate. I got to thinking and asked, “Haven’t you been in Saudi Arabia 2 years without a day off?” He stood proud and told me his brother went in for him.

Okay, I’m not normal, but who is?

Tomorrow morning, if you wake up disappointed because you have nothing to do, thank God. Most people wake up disappointed because they have nothing to eat.

Roughneck’s Alter Ego

IMG_0061What image do you see when you hear the word roughneck? Do you imagine a lanky, snuff-dipping, slow-walking, slow-thinking hillbilly village looking guy in filthy coveralls with the pant legs stuffed into the top of his steel-toed boots? Or maybe you think of a man with a PHD, a pair of Post Hole Diggers.

John worked as fast as he walked and talked, like a tortoise, but he was steady. He was six feet, one inch tall, chubby, slumped at the shoulders, and quiet as a titmouse. Rumor spread that the rig had lost the contract. I asked John about his future plans if he got laid off. He expressed serious reservations about the alternative to his current job, mopping the decks and painting every day, but said if he had to, he’d go back to his old position at SMU, as a professor of microbiology.

Brad was chubby, too, and old enough that I called him Sir. He was steady and rarely said anything related to his personal life. I worked with him a year before I found out he flew F-4 Phantoms in the skies of North Vietnam. He has a degree in aeronautics and can still, today, fly just about anything with wings.

Cade pulls slips and talks about surgeries. Six months ago he worked as an O.R. nurse.

Roy has a degree in English Lit. Jeff has a degree in History. Frank and Sam have degrees in economics and finance. Frank sold a Chrysler dealership and swore to never touch a briefcase or wear a suit and tie ever again.

If someone told me they knew the Pope. I’d say “So what, I know Karl,” a brilliant mind with 3 degrees in aeronautical space engineering. In fact, I relieved Karl one day, not long ago, on the rig floor.

I told my elderly mom I relieved a rocket scientist. The next morning at bingo, she told Ethel, “My son relieved a rocket scientist.”

Betty leaned in and asked Ethel what IMG_0072Mom said and Ethel whispered, “Polly’s son is a rocket scientist.”

Mona asked Betty to repeat what Ethel said and she whispered, “Polly’s son works for NASA.”

Ellie tapped Mona’s elbow and asked what all the whispering was about. Mona shrugged and said, “It’s nothing. Polly son works at the NAPA  store.”

Ellie said, “Good, maybe he can get me a deal on a set of windshield wipers for my car!”