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“Just Show Me the Baby”
Max was a real, true to life, honest to goodness, genius. Working for a genius can be very difficult at times. They all seem to have something that makes them very different. While speaking with Max about something very important, you would finally notice that there was no return conversation. Max would not be speaking and wouldn’t until he had the entire and complete answer and was ready to share the wisdom with you. You could only hear labored heavy breathing and the click of a Zippo lighter, lighting an unfiltered Pall Mall cigarette. Everyone that worked for Max must telephone him daily, no matter what was going on. If Max had to call you, you were in big trouble. We didn’t have mobile phones.
There was a horrible accident outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming. It caused me to lose five very good friends in an instant. These men were gelling condensate in the middle of the night. Nobody knows for sure, but it is believed that a small leak developed a spray on one of the twenty-five plus 500 Bbl. tanks that were filled with condensate. It is believed that a spark from the exhaust on the forklift ignited the spray from the leaking tank. It has been said that some of the 500 Bbl. tanks were blown as much as 250 yards away, in the air.
My friends were identified by their belt buckles. I remember one young pretty wife that was left with four children to raise by herself. Stuff happens. Ideally we could all learn from other’s mistakes. In real life, normally we must learn the hard way, by and for yourself.
In Farmington, New Mexico we were to pump the same type job as the one that had blown up in Wamsetter, Wyoming. The location was built on the side of a mountain and was very small with absolutely no escape routes for the personnel that would be pumping this job. I suggested that we rebuild the location in order to make it more safe for everyone. My idea was not very popular. When I came in to the Holiday Inn that night, my message light was flashing. Seventy miles of dirt road sucks in any country, welcome to Farmington. I knew it was Max and I was in trouble, again. The Farmington cats were chapped. This was going to cost a bunch of money.
Max had already heard the corporate side of things. There are men in every field of life that you can depend upon to make the right decision. Corporations expect you to lose feelings for personnel once you reach a certain level of management or at least it seems that way. The bottom line always controls the answer to the problem. I argued every point as best I could, explaining my intensions when I realized that Max had gone into silent mode and nothing you tried would make him talk until he was ready. The Zippo clicked and I waited. After about ten minutes he said “Cash,” I don’t want to hear anything about the labor pains, just show me the baby”, he hung up. Red Adair did the eulogy for Max, the Pall Mall’s finally got him. He had three sets of natural teeth, but that’s another story.
As it turned out, Farmington decided to go a different route. I went to Shreveport, Louisiana. I never made another required daily call after these instructions, just the baby. I would call Max when I was finished with a job, to get the instructions for the next.