When Nature Doesn’t Call

This morning, I gently persuaded myself out of bed around 3:45 am. In the morning.

I reluctantly finished packing my offshore bag and reassured myself that this is all worth it. Today is the day you become a woman, I thought. I drove to work and boarded the People Hauler’s Suburban, which would take us to the heliport. Heliports work like airports, except you don’t have a set departure time. Your departure times are either, 1st flight, 2nd flight… and so on. Unlike flying in an airplane, you do not have a predetermined flight time. You show up at your check in time, which is usually 5 a.m. (in the morning) and wait.

On this particular day, my crew and I were on the first flight out. We are going offshore for BP- the big bad wolf of oilfield companies… This is my first job to be the solo engineer. This rig’s hourly rate is more than all my loved one’s combined would pay for my ransom if I was kidnapped. I would rather be kidnapped. But I guess it is part of growing up to be scared shitless and then have to answer, “I am” when someone asks, “Who is in charge of your group…?” It feels like I am making a prank phone call. (“Is your refrigerator running…?”) I am prank calling all these people.

The tone we are trying to set here is serious. I was feeling very serious this morning. I got to the heliport and was pulled for a random drug and alcohol screening. No big deal. I walk into the room, produce some breath, blow 0.00 on my alcohol screen. I walked into the toilet room, and failed to produce 5 mL of pee. embarrassing. I walked out and showed the exam proctor my sorry sample. He said I could wait outside, drink no more than 8 cups of water, and try again.

I walked into the waiting area, drank 12 glasses of water, and waited almost 30 minutes. The heliport called for my flight to be briefed. They called the drug testing center to inquire about the hold up. I tried to pee again, but still only produced < 5mL.

I was sent back outside, told not to drink anymore, and wait. I waited. I chatted with the desk clerk. The heliport called for my flight again, giving me an ultimatum: produce pee in 30 minutes, or you and your crew will be moved to 2nd flight.  I chatted some more with the desk clerk. He gave me orange juice and talked about healthcare and the housing crisis, which happen to be two topics I love to talk about. Especially at work. At minute 25, I cut the desk clerk off, declaring, “I really have to go now!!” I ran into the testing room, this time quite familiar with the routine. I filled up the cup and then some.

“Took you long enough….” -Harry1, as I shamefully walk into the briefing room.

Now, imagine you have drunk nearly 3 pints of fluid and only peed once, then board a helicopter for a two hour tour of the Gulf. Turbulence is abound as you go through rain clouds. The helicopter lands, I snatch up my luggage, run to the safety briefing room, and demand to use the restroom.

Not feeling so serious anymore….

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