Stick Stuck

I’ve been offshore for the last week or so, on the Chinese rig again. It’s a rather large job, with many runs. I’m working shifts with another engineer and am already experiencing the effects of working the “night” shift.

All the supervisors on this rig are Chinese, as mentioned in a previous post the last time I was out here. Some speak English better than others. The man who watches everything I do doesn’t seem to know English hardly at all. His name is Mr. Yew. Mr. Yew likes to sit as close to me as possible. He touches my computer screen, uses my mouse to browse things he wants to see, takes my calculator from in front of me, and is constantly saying “You give me data!” (though its really pronounced more like, deyterr). Mr. Yew and I have become more comfortable with each other, as I’ve asked him to allow me to move the mouse around if there are things he wants to see, and he always gets his deyterr in time.

After one run, I gave Mr. Yew and his colleague, Mr. Chew the geologist, a field print of the log data. On the wellsite, they like to correct any mistakes in the field print, such as typos or comments. After delivering this print, I was summoned with some very important questions.

“Here, it says tool sticking. And here…..*Scrolling through document*…. It says stuck tool. What is the difference? Is the tool stuck or is it stick?”

Usually, I go into these sessions prepared to face harsh scrutiny and take serious notes on what to fix so that the next draft is near perfection. At this question, I eased my guard and explained that stick and stuck , for their purposes mean the same thing. Different forms of the same verb. Everyone laughed, and Mr. Yew and Mr. Chew practiced saying “stick….stuck. Same word!!” Their amusement pointed out to me the subtleties in languages. In Chinese, the pronunciation difference between stick and stuck would make those words have totally different meanings.

When offshore, everyone on the rig is reporting to someone “in town”. It’s very much like a royal We situation, as whenever you’re not sure of something or need to make a decision, you can simply say, “I’ll check with Town” or “That would have to be up to the guys in Town.” Aside from decision making, the guys in Town need to be briefed and updated on the operations offshore, so that they can all have meetings together. Mr. Yew refers to his guy in town as “my Leader”. This leads to him saying phrases like, “I will call to my Leader” and “I give deyterr to my Leader”. His phrasing makes me giggle inside, as all I can think is take me to your Leader. Like an alien.

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