Rig Hoppin

April 20, 00:00, Lynn and I were awoken in our bunks by an announcement. Hearing announcements in the bunks usually means there is a fire alarm or something. Lynn jumped out of her bed and frantically prepared to abandon ship. After listening to the announcement for a few seconds, we realized it was a Deep Water Horizon memorial announcement.

Yesterday morning, I boarded a helicopter and flew over to the next rig to do a job with Mr. Boxes and DeepWater Shorty. Harry4 also came with me. This helicopter ride lasted about 3 minutes. The chopper stopped and let Harry4 and I out as if it was a routine bus stop. We collected our bags from the helipad and proceeded to the briefing room for our room assignments. As I watched the safety video, Shorty, Mr.Boxes, and Archie (other operator) came in to greet me. “Hi Junior!!!”

When approaching a helicopter, you must never walk in the front or back, as the rotating blades dip in the front and the propeller will kill you in the back. I walk up to the helicopter from the side, but am always paranoid that my head will be chopped off by the rotating blades. This is of course an irrational fear, but I face it on a regular basis. 

Mr. Boxes is the “Deep Water Coordinator” for this client, BHP. This means that everyone on the rig knows him very well and he gets paged constantly. In short, Mr. Boxes handles all the business. Meanwhile, Shorty and I engage in minimal horse play and giggle constantly. I feel like I am a kid playing in the grocery store with my sister while mom shops. Shorty and I have started calling Mr. Boxes “dad”.

“Taking kids offshore is a pain in the ass…”-Mr. Boxes

“Sorry I missed the meeting, dad”-Shorty

This is a drillship. Boats are fun when you can stand outside and watch the waves as the boat gently rocks over them. Boats are not fun when you are sitting in a conference room and can feel the boat moving as well as hear creaking of file cabinet doors opening and shutting involuntarily due to the excessive motion of the ocean. In addition, all the people in the meeting are quoting Ronald Reagan. This is my definition of sea sickness.

This morning, we had a fire drill on the rig. This entails everyone getting decked out in full PPE (onesy, steel toe boots, hard hat, ear plugs and gloves) and mustering at their assigned lifeboat stations wearing life jackets. Lifeboats come in all shapes and sizes. These lifeboats seat 75 people and are lowered into the water off the rig by a pulley system. The rig I just came from had lifeboats that were mounted to the rig like torpedos:

Mr. Boxes explained to me that these lifeboats deploy by being released and sliding down a teflon skid. They free fall into the water, go under the water, and emerge nearly 100 ft away from the rig. Abandoning ship is no picnic.

My Id, Ego, and Super Ego

You may tell when I am working more; I am usually blogging more. This is my view from the door of the logging unit:

Perhaps the thought of being trapped offshore on a rig, surrounded by shark infested waters, provokes the little creativity left in my brain after wireline engineering and oilfield knowledge. I feel free when I look out into the ocean and see dozens of boats and other rigs. The sensation is similar to that of driving across west Texas. The flat horizon hides no features. For an entire day, my mind and the landscape is clear to be filled in by unfiltered imagination. Offshore has a similar effect.

Things my Id thinks about:

1. If I were to dive off the front of this rig, how many flips could I do before hitting the water?

2. What would these people do if I went crazy and ran up to the rig floor or the bridge (control room) and started flipping switches and pressing red buttons like a mad woman? How long would it take them to restrain me? And how much time would I spend in the nut house after they shoot me with horse tranquilizers and fly me home?

3. I want to host 4v4 soccer tournaments on the helipad with all the crews. Playing soccer suspended above the ocean would be SICK.

My Ego’s thoughts:

1. I wish I could consume only coffee and juice while I was out here. My body would thank me.

2. I should derail my supervising engineer and just run the show out here. But, wait… how do I do that?

3. Now is the perfect time to catch up on reading.

My Super Ego’s thoughts:

1. Stop blogging and pay attention.

2. Stop blogging and study for your controls!

3. Stop blogging and day dreaming and seize the day! 

http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/personalityelem.htm

I feel trapped when I sit inside this box and focus on the tasks at hand. I have heard people compare working offshore in the oil field to working in space. The song “Rocket Man” comes to mind and is all too appropriate. This is the view from the wireline unit:

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 I miss my comrades on shore. Perhaps my propensity to blog offshore is fueled by a yearning for companionship. While I sit in the wireline unit in the company of 8 computer screens, I wonder silently about what Alice and Gertrude are doing. I wonder what hijinks Shorty, Albert and Beverly are finding themselves in. Or if Cookies is enjoying his time offshore. Will Jerome starve before I learn how to make thawed out mice seem enticing?

 Quotes:

 While discussing storms in the Gulf, Englewood explains to me that rigs will detach from the well head and just float. Even Jack Up rigs can turn into boats. All personnel are evacuated, except for sometimes the driller will stay behind.

“Don’t some of them not make it through the storm?”-Me

“Yeah, there was one rig that didn’t make it. We had equipment on that rig too. Now it’s at the bottom of the ocean.”-Englewood.

“I was at this thing with [fiance] and she was telling people about childhood obesity. I was not really participating, but one woman came up to me and started talking. ‘I just don’t understand. I mean, I give my kids Oreos but I make them crumble them up and put it on yogurt so it’s healthy!'”-Englewood. The new inside joke is that you can eat whatever you want, so long as you crumble it up and put it on yogurt.

Shorties, Shotguns, and Career Day

Recently, all my co workers have been onshore. This is a novelty, and we have taken the time to relax and enjoy life together. I have laughed more than usual this past week, but can’t remember much that is quote worthy. Previously, you were introduced to a character named O’Hershes. Let’s change his name to “Deepwater Shorty”, as that is what most of the people at the shop call him.

“Hey Snack Pack, I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”-Winnie

“What’s up?” -Laila

“You down to earth.”-Winnie

“Hey Laila, you got any candy over there?” -Englewood, an engineer who sits a couple seats away from me.

“Of course!”-Laila

“Hook a brother up!”-Englewood

“Selina, you can’t register for cash!”-Blake, about their upcoming wedding.”

This last week, Beverly, Cookies, Englewood, Deepwater Shorty, Albert, myself and one of our managers, Dennis the Menace, have sat around telling many crazy stories. I call Dennis the Menace because his stories are by far the most outrageous.

I had a phenomenal weekend. I went to Cabela’s with Albert and Deepwater Shorty. They bought shotguns. I bought a chair. Later that day, we went to Dennis the Menace’s house for a backyard cook out. I met several of my coworkers wives/girlfriends. We had fun. Dennis’s wife is a teacher at a local school and asked me to come speak to her class Tuesday about working for Whataberger. This went well. I met Miss Louisiana, who was also at school speaking about her career. Career day was great, and I gave lots of 6th graders high fives and told them to go to college. 

Sunday, I went to the shooting range with Albert and Deepwater Shorty. This shooting range is in the neighboring town. It is a gravel road with some little shooting stations off to

Shorty Meets Shotgun

the side. The area we used is behind the main building wooden club house type thing. We did what is called “skeet shooting”. This entails standing behind a wooden station and shooting at orange clay discs which fly out from assigned directions numbered 1-8. The man facilitating this will be called “Rupert”. I have a feeling, Rupert will become a recurring character in rigtales. Needless to say, Rupert is a unique personality; he runs the Southern Shooting Center in a small town down in the Bayou. Shorty and Albert just purchased their guns. Albert is a seasoned gun user, but Shorty needed guidance on how to load/unload/shoot his gun. In addition, Albert and Shorty experienced difficulty remembering which discs would shoot from which stations.

“Have you ever heard of torque?” -Rupert

“…..” -All. I’m thinking, Boy, do we know about torque!

“TARC- Terrebone Association for Retarded Children, you would do great with them!”-Rupert. I assumed this was a joke, a pun if you will.

“Oh, the safety’s on…”-Shorty calling out to Rupert after he fails to shoot at a clay.

 I shot some guns, then I decided I needed my own shotgun so we could shoot more often. Tuesday night, we returned to the shooting range. My shotgun is a pump gun and kicks pretty hard. I have a gnarly bruise covering my right shoulder.

I later learned that TARC is a real thing. Englewood explained this to us over lunch later that week. “It is so not PC. But, they don’t want to change the name because they are afraid no one will recognize them….. It’s pretty retarded.”

Jerome still hasn’t eaten.

I am now offshore for a client called BHP. They are an Australian company. This rig is NICE! I’m with Lynn again. I am also working with Harry4 and Floyd for the first time. I spent a sad amount of time this morning prying open a bathroom door after I shut it too tightly #rigproblems.

By Popular Demand

Alice and Gertrude have been offshore. Basking in their absence, I left the top of Jerome’s tank cracked to see if he would escape during the night. He did. I woke and found his favorite hiding spot empty.

Legends of the Hidden Temple

Jerome likes to crawl up inside of this Legends of the Hidden Temple head. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get him out of there… Anyway, this morning Jerome had escaped from his terrarium, sending me into a controlled panic. I searched under tight spots, as that is where he likes to hide. I found him wedged between the refrigerator and the counter. I tried to feed Jerome again this weekend, with the same result. My snake is gay and doesn’t like mice.

This weekend, my parents came to visit me. Happpy Easter! We spent some time together in New Orleans and it was a nice change of pace. I felt cool being the “local” and showing them around, even though they know more about New Orleans

My mommy eating oysters with me

than I do. We used to take road trips as a family when my sister and I were younger. New Orleans was a city we frequently stopped in on our journeys east. I have many a happy childhood memory of staying in hotels, bargaining with street vendors, and eating crawfish pie with my parents. This time around I felt special they came all the way here just to see me for a couple days. My mom came to see my office briefly. She also insisted that my snake’s name is Chester. She also told her class “I get to meet my Grandsnake this weekend.”, which is awesome. My new family tree is such:

Generation 1: Mom and Dad

Generation 2: Mariam, Laila, BJ (the parrot)

Generation 3: Toota (Mariam’s cat), Jerome (Laila’s snake)

“Amina, it’s crawfish etouffe! There’s no pork in it!!”-My dad to my mom.

“Oh no, I won’t be able to play….”-My dad sounding extremely sad while trying to play Tetris on a smart phone with no buttons.

“Nawlins was my city!!”-My dad, on partying

“A lot of people here are Catholic. It’s like the major religion down here. I’ve never been somewhere where you seriously couldn’t buy meat on Fridays.”-Me

“No, most of the people practice VooDoo”-Mom

Unfortunately, trainees in this company are hazed. Hazing goes something like this:

“Junior, pick that up so my hands don’t get greasy!”-OHershes

“Junior, swipe your card to open the gate!”-OHershes

“Junior, walk out in front of that car.”-OHershes

“Junior, swim in that fountain!”-OHershes

“Yeah. Yellow and red…… These colors don’t run!”- O’Hershes, on his home state, New Mexico

Here’s a new segment of the blog. It is called Only in the Bayou!

“I saw an alligator being shot yesterday.”-Canada, casually.

“On tv?”-Me

“No, at a gas station. There were cops everywhere. I asked someone what was going on. They said ‘There’s an alligator under the building.’ So I guess the cops were out there to shoot it.”-Canada

Only in the Bayou….

Sammich Day

I’ve been on land and quite boring lately.

Today I went into the office. I did not want to be in the office, as I was out late last night playing pool and eating the new Dorito shell taco from Taco Bell. It is mind blowing.

Albert and I were supposed to go for our ‘controls’ Friday in New Orleans. I had spent much of this week preparing emotionally and studying my face off. Last night, Lauren informed us we would be postponing this event until we had more time to become seasoned in our positions. This left me feeling…..bleh.

Certain days of the week, our vendors bring food to the office. Sometimes we get Chick Fil A on Friday. Other days, people will bring us McDonalds breakfast or tuna sandwiches. Thursdays are sammich days. This is the best day. On Sammich day, there is a tray of tomatoes, some rolls of lettuce, several loafs of french bread, cheese, mustard, and a variety of lunch meats-turkey, cajun roast beef, and hams. I made a sammich and proceeded to play angry birds in space while avoiding work. I hope no one from work reads this…… Anyhow, the only redeeming quality this day seemed to have was that Jerome, my new snake, eats weekly. Today was the day I was going to feed him for the first time. I left work early to go to PetCo and have them show me some proper techniques for feeding Jerome. While I was there, I watched the manager feed ALL the snakes in the store. This was fascinating.

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Snakes eat mice. All the snakes ate a frozen mouse, except for Jerome. Jerome was not interested in eating and did not chase after the frozen mouse, but rather avoided it and ran away from it when we waved the little rodent in front of Jerome’s face. We tried to feed Jerome a live mouse. Jerome was equally uninterested in the squeaking little creature. I accepted that Jerome was not ready to eat and bought a three pack of frozen mice to try again later.

While I was at the pet store, I also met a four year old boy who told me everything he knew about snakes, which was a lot.”I know everything about snakes!” He assured me and Selina, who had accompanied me for moral support.  Selina squirmed and became very jumpy around the snakes. Our new four year old snake expert laughed at her and told her not to be scared. Priceless.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

During a brief study break, Gertrude and I went to New Orleans to enjoy the hype of the NCAA basketball Final Four. We wore blue feather boas and cheered “Rock Chalk Jayhawk!” to the Kansas fans.

We walked around some parks in the city and danced at several small live music venues on Frenchman street. Now it is back to the studying with my study buddy, Jerome.

Jerome, my Ball Python