Lunch time ends at 1 pm. As we’re working, Arcenio called the galley to reserve us some food. We waltz in there at 2 pm to four prepared meals and a plate of friend shrimp. Heads down, Arcenio and I mowed down the plate whilst our other two crew looked on frightened.
“Do you think the shrimp is really good, or we are just hungry?”, Arcenio tilts his head asking.
I lift up my chin and take a deep breath, cracking a smile through my fatigued face. “I think its great!” I pop another shrimp into my mouth. “Did we eat breakfast this morning. or was that yesterday?” Arcenio looks at me with wide eyes, “I don’t remember…..”
Together, we brainstorm and determine the last meal we ate was at 6:30 the previous evening. The last 72 hours are a blur. Typically we come offshore and have at least a couple days of standby to check equipment and get settled. On this tour, we arrived and started working right away, sleeping only 2 or 3 hours. The rest of the time was spent in close quarters working. I have two Filipino crew chiefs and an Indian junior operator. Arcenio and Knox teach Chuck the ways of wireline. As I work, I overhear them singing the gospels of operator life, indoctrinating young Chuck into our little cult.
Arcenio: You know why they call us ‘operator’? Because, you do the operation. Sometimes your engineer is busy…… or on Facebook. You always bring them coffee.
Knox: When will you get married? Are you sure? No refunds, no exchange. No expiration on marriage certification. Not like rig up gear.
Arcenio: It can become bad. And your operator no respect you. As a crew chief, you have to be hard sometimes.
Knox: Chuck, you don’t want to be a donkey operator, only connecting tools. You have to study and know what is happening on the rig.
Arcenio: How long have you been in Doha, Chuck? Do you have a girlfriend? Why not, are you gay?