All in the Eyes

I awoke one morning, excruciating pain inside the lower right quadrant of my torso. It wasn’t a familiar feeling because I’d never had someone gouge my insides with an icepick, so you can imagine my concern. Kidney stone, they said at the hospital. See it all the time. I thought, Well, not from me you don’t. They gave me a shot of “Duck Dynasty” medicine after which I was happy, happy, happy, and sent me home. All turned out well, and I was good as used the following day.

During the course of all of this, after the stone passed out of my kidney releasing the fluid and the pressure and thus relieving the pain, I went to the pharmacy. Oh, I failed to mention, I lived in Saudi Arabia, so, it so happened, the place was full of Saudi women and an untold number of little kids. Saudi women of course wear, what appears to be at first glance, a large, black, plastic trash bag, covered head to toe. Anyway, I sat a respectable distance away, waiting for my name to be called, observing the goings on. Typical of Arab child-raising, the little girls sat, minding their Ps and Qs and the little boys ran amok. Boys and men pretty much do what they please and women not so much. Anyway, (again,) one kid ran up behind a woman, grabbed her black covering and jerked it up to inspect her shoes. Nope. Not mom. He sidled to the next one, lifted, inspected, and moved on to the next, until finally, the ruby slippers he’d been seeking.

Not one woman reacted to the kid’s query.

Okay, all of the above to get to masks. Took me years of living in the Middle East to grow accustomed to talking to people who covered their heads and faces. Men not women. Men. I talked to men. Can’t see their lips move or their expressions, and I was unable to gauge any emotions from a man’s eyes without the other indicators. I don’t remember when, but one day that changed when I recognized the evil intent of a man’s soul in one 10-second-long stare. (Another story.)

Last week I checked into a hotel at Raceland, Louisiana. Yes, I had on a mask, a scarf I had pulled up over my mouth and nose, and a cap. I went to my car for something and walked back toward the entrance. Another man was digging out bags from the back of a SUV. As I approached, the man turned. His face was covered in camo, topped with a matching cap. I said, “Hey Ricky.” He said, “Hey Dave.”

Had not seen Ricky in 5 years.

Recently went to the doc’s carrying my 6th kidney stone. He asked what he could do for me. I told him I had a kidney I wanted to donate to someone I don’t like.

Who’s Running the Asylum?

I was supposed to go to test prep this past week. They call it well control school, but it’s not a school anymore. I’ve mentioned this before and it’s still a sore spot with me. Don’t problem solve. Learn the answer to the test questions. Drives me nuts, or depending on who you ask, nuttier.

The industry regulators require us to attend 40 hours of instruction every two years. After 40 years on the rigs and attending school, real school, every year for the first 20 years, I’d rather have a root canal. I’ve selected a tooth I don’t like just in case that’s’ an option in the future.

The school said I could not attend because I was tested for COVID. I took two tests, and both were negative, but they would not allow me in the building unless I quarantined 14 days first. I tested again 3 days later and that one was negative.

Brilliant. What does that tell you about the tests? FYI – COVID tests are inaccurate 60% of the time.

We had a guy on the rig who tested negative before he arrived. He was tested on the rig and tested positive, which forced us to fly him off via MEDEVAC. Not cheap by the way. He was tested again that day and the result was negative. Guess what he’s doing? Yep. Quarantined 14 days to see if he gets sick. If he does show symptoms, he has to test negative twice with 60% inaccurate tests before he can return to work.

Just brilliant.

I’m on the rig now. We’re sailing west, southwest, at the ocean-eating pace of 7mph, trying to get on the west side of two approaching hurricanes. The west side is the weakest side of a hurricane, but not to be confused with docile or calm. Still formidable.

Everyone is masked up inside the living quarters unless seated at a table in the galley eating. The rig has a central air-conditioning system. Everyone here tested negative.

Again, brilliant.

Is the mask deal an IQ test? I can’t say much because I’m on a slow boat playing chicken with two hurricanes.

Don’t confuse the rioters who wear their masks with upstanding citizens trying to do their part during the pandemic. They’re running the asylum.