Friday, October 26, 2007

Another "It's A Small World" Story


Don C. (my father) worked most of his career on off-shore oil drilling rigs.

Many of these rigs are what are referred to as "jack up" rigs. They float. The legs of the drilling platform are raised high by motors and the platform floats on the water. The rig is then towed by ocean going tugs into the area they want to try to drill for oil.

The legs are then lowered to the sea floor and the rig is readied for action.

The rig might be there a couple of years as the prepare and then drill for oil.

Over the years my Dad worked with a lot of the same men as long as the rig stayed in one place. There were a lot of men on there, and some came and went, but there were always a core group of men who came to know one another really well.

He might later be assigned to a different rig with a whole new group of guys to get to know and work with.

On an oil drilling rig, the man in charge of the whole rig is referred to as the "tool pusher." Don't ask me why that name because I don't know. It just is.

This one guy that he worked with for several years became familiar to our family because Don C. would refer to him and a few other men and we came to recognize their names and positions on the rigs when my Dad would tell stories about things that went on while they were off shore.

Around 1980, when I finished high school and started my first foray into college, I read a book that I had checked out from the library called, "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins.

In around 1973-1974 Peter Jenkins, a young man, decided to walk across America to try to "find" the real America. The book is the story of his beginning on the east coast and his walk through the south and he would stop and live with people who welcomed him into their homes and then when he had some money saved, continue on his trek.

The first book ends with Mr. Jenkins having made it to south Louisiana, where he had stopped and obtained work as a roustabout on an off-shore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the book, he describes in detail what the work was like and some of the people he worked with and even had some pictures in the book from that time.

Mr. Jenkins had a picture of and talked about the tool pusher on the rig he had worked on for a while, and I recognized the name of the tool pusher.

I was sitting on the couch in our den at home when I was reading this part of the book, and Don C. was in the kitchen cooking something. I called over to him and asked him the name of the tool pusher on his rig and he named the man in the book.

I walked in there and explained to my Dad what I've just explained to you here, what this book is about, and showed him the picture of the tool pusher that the author had worked with.

My Dad confirmed that this was indeed the man that my Dad was presently working with on his rig.

The next time Don C. came home from his week off-shore, he told me that he had mentioned the book to the tool pusher and that the tool pusher told him about having worked with Peter Jenkins for the few months Mr. Jenkins stayed in Louisiana to work and save money.

It's really no big deal, but I always thought that whole situation with reading about these men and my Dad working with one of them was cool. At the age of 17, that was one of the biggest "It's A Small World" stories I had personally encountered.

Peter Jenkins wrote a second book detailing the rest of his trip across America from Louisiana to the west coast called "The Walk West." He later walked across China, Alaska, and all kinds of places.

I don't read a whole lot of non-fiction, but when I do, a good portion of it is personal travel stories like those written by Peter Jenkins.

I might never visit these places in my lifetime, but I can experience them to a certain degree through the eyes of others who have been there and written about it.


Check out the amazing sky looking west down my street this past Tuesday, on my John's Daily Digital Images blog. My Street, Looking West

5 comments:

Hammer said...

That is a neat story. I know some oil rig guys and I know it's some really hard work.

It's indeed a samll world. What are the chances?

Norma said...

I read both books--nice romance story too about his wife. But they later divorced. I think there was a 3rd book or maybe a journal article.

Did you see the Jena 6 article in Chronicle? I blogged about it.

Stop by: http://collectingmythoughts.blogspot.com/2007/10/left-never-gets-it-right-but-sometimes.html

Babystepper said...

I admire people who can spend such significant portions of their lives doing crazy things like that. I don't ever plan to emulate them, mind, but I can admire.

photowannabe said...

I loved reading those books too and walking a mile in his literary shoes. I like hearing about the "small world" aspect too.
That's extreamly hard work on the oil rigs. Thanks for sharing.

Beverly said...

I remember those books as well. I'm always amazed at the "small world" we live in.