Oil Field Trash

Oil Field Trash

Oil Field Trash doesn’t mean that you are trash. It only refers to a way of life. It is not demeaning nor does it have any negative connotations about it. It is something that real true to life oil field workers strive to be. It is not like some people think. It is something to be very proud of. I am and have always been proud of my accomplishments in the oil fields around the world. I have met and shared my life with many different peoples that have lived the same type life as I have had the privilege to have. I have worked all around the world and could have never had these types of opportunities without the oil field.

In 1971 I began my oil field trash career. I went to work for Tom Brown Drilling Company out of Midland, Texas. I worked in Crane, Texas on Tom Brown Rig 4. We had 500 McElroy sand wells to drill for Gulf Oil Company, just outside of Crane, Texas. My driller was named Eddie Ryanbarger from Odessa. Eddie had a B.A. degree from Texas A&M in journalism. He of course could not make a living writing for a living but he could as a driller in the oil patch. We worked evening tour and seven days a week. Nobody could keep hands. We had a change nearly every day. There were rigs running everywhere and a roughneck could just about pick his job and evening tour, seven days a week was not ones first choose. Eddie spent about half of his time off looking for a new hand and he picked up some real dandies at times. I remember that I got in the car one day and there was this big red headed guy sitting there. I didn’t think much of it because we always had someone new. This guy ask me if I knew a lawyer in Odessa named something. I did not know him of course. Well, he informed me that this lawyer was really good because he had just gotten this guy off of a murder charge. Turns out he shot a man in a bar on the Andrews Highway just for fun and got off scott free. Technicality was the reason, it was premeditated because this guy carried the 44 Magnum in the bar just to shoot this other man. Doesn’t seem fair does it. He didn’t last three days, I knew that he wouldn’t. It takes more of a man to be real oil field trash. He was just plain trash, it’s not the same.

When I started, I went to worm corner just like everybody else. It was hard and it doesn’t take long to wear on your nerves with everybody hollering at you to ‘Make em’ Bite meaning to make you tongs bite the drill pipe while making a connection or tripping in or out of the hole. We drilled 3,000 ft. and set two strings of pipe on each well. We moved the rig every four days. This was a work house son of a bitch. Hands wouldn’t stay at such a pace. I got a promotion my second day on the rig to backup tongs. I was no longer in the worm corner, I felt good to be able to move up so fast. I made $3.00 an hour with no time to spend my money. I lived at home with my parents and life was good. We just worked an eight hour shift, so I was home by 10:30 every night. Life is good. To my surprise, I got another promotion my third day on the rig. I was the new derrick hand and had more experience that anyone else except for Eddie my driller. Eddie took a piece of softline and showed me how to throw it around the drill pipe using the stove pipe in the top dog house. Leverage was the key to success. Stay at the end of your belt and work the pipe, don’t let it work you. I worked derricks for Eddie for the next year. We drilled a lot of hole but I felt like I needed a bigger rig to work on. Eddie and I parted ways but remained friends. The next time I saw him was right at the mouth of the Congo River in West Africa offshore Zaire in late 1974. I worked for Halliburton and he was a crane operator for Key Drill. Oil field trash to the end through thick and thin.

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