The View

Somebody stole the new phone I still wasn’t done drooling over (barely 2 weeks after I bought it) the first day that I got to this rig, and we managed to bend the pins inside one of our tools in the process of loading batteries and we are still not ready for the job that, thankfully, keeps getting pushed back due to issues that have nothing to do with us, but right now I don’t want to talk about that. I also don’t want to talk about how it takes about ten tries to flush the “efficient” toilets that I have to share with 7 other people or how the temperature in the accommodation is kept just a wee bit too warm for comfortable sleep. No, right now I want to talk about The View.

The View is what you get standing on a helipad just after midnight with the wind so strong you feel like you could blow away if you stretched your arms wide enough. The View is a gibbous moon reflected in the choppy sea and 3 other brightly lit rigs competing for your attention against the horizon. The View is feeling that barely perceptible bit of heave that the compensator lets slip through. The View is wondering if that oddly shaped assortment of lights off the coastline to your left is yet another rig or a surprisingly large town in the middle of the otherwise quite rural countryside*.

The oil industry does not tend to attract idealists. There are few humanitarians or do-gooders in there; plenty of people who are doing something they feel is necessary, something that’s “gotta be done”, perhaps, but at the end of the day, most oil field workers are mercenaries**. The money is what gets you mucking about in the grease in a dangerous environment, miles away from your friends and family and “civilization”, often for weeks at a time. But of course in the college recruitment speeches that bit tends to get played down (I assume because everyone already knows about it), and what they try and pitch to you is The Experience***. The Experience is what’s supposed to motivate you. The Experience is supposed to Build Character, Teach Life Lessons and Make You into a Better**** person. This is a different version of the same thing that the investment banks tell you, and it is mostly just a different version of crap. Most people will always do this for the money.

But. There are moments. The View might not compensate for the rest of it. But it is a rather unique fringe benefit.

*Checked in the morning, and it is just another rig, as expected.

** A (very non-Marxist, interestingly) friend of mine used “prostitutes”.

***also The Travel, but that part is actually kind of true.

**** I gather that this is supposed to refer to competency rather than ethics.

PS: No photo because well, as mentioned, The View isn’t just the view, but also because, again as mentioned, somebody stole my brand new camera phone.

Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs and Following Your Passion

My friend Varun Torka pointed this out to me after I wrote that other post about “creative professionals”. This is one of the most awesome TED talks I’ve ever seen. You really, really have to watch the video to get a sense of what he’s talking about: this extract, while relevant, doesn’t come close to doing it justice. I would embed it, but WordPress doesn’t let you use Flash or upload videos other than from some sites without a video upgrade.

So I started to wonder what would happen if we challenged some of these sacred cows. Follow your passion — we’ve been talking about it here for the last 36 hours. Follow your passion — what could possibly be wrong with that? Probably the worst advice I ever got. (Laughter) You know, follow your dreams and go broke, right? I mean, that’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I was told if you follow your passion, it’s going to work out.

I can give you 30 examples, right now — Bob Combs, the pig farmer in Las Vegas who collects the uneaten scraps of food from the casinos and feeds them them to his swine. Why? Because there’s so much protein in the stuff we don’t eat his pigs grow at twice the normal speed, and he is one rich pig farmer, and he is good for the environment, and he spends his days doing this incredible service, and he smells like hell, but God bless him. He’s making a great living. You ask him, “Did you follow your passion here?” and he’d laugh at you. The guy’s worth — he just got offered like 60 million dollars for his farm and turned it down, outside of Vegas. He didn’t follow his passion. He stepped back and he watched where everybody was going and he went the other way. And I hear that story over and over.

Matt Froind, a dairy farmer in New Canaan, Connecticut, who woke up one day and realized the crap from his cows was worth more than their milk, if he could use it to make these biodegradable flower pots. Now, he’s selling them to Walmart. Follow his passion — the guy’s — come on.

…we’ve declared war on work, as a society, all of us. It’s a civil war.  It’s a cold war, really. We didn’t set out to do it  and we didn’t twist our mustache in some Machiavellian way,  but we’ve done it.  And we’ve waged this war on at least four fronts, certainly in Hollywood. The way we portray working people on TV,  it’s laughable. If there’s a plumber, he’s 300 pounds and he’s got a giant buttcrack, admit it.  You see him all the time.  That’s what plumbers look like, right? We turn them into heroes, or we turn them into punchlines.  That’s what TV does…

Really, just watch. There’s a lot in there. I am SO going to start watching his show.