Chapter 4 – New Job

My first job as a roustabout for an oil production company was a great experience.  Even though it ended abruptly, I never pursued justice but instead turned my focus to finding another job.  Being single again, there was no second income to fall back on, and a J-O-B was what I needed F-A-S-T.  Despite the fact that my degree was in office administration, the thought of working in an office again did not appeal to me.  I drove an hour to Canal Street in New Orleans to the big parent oil company to apply for a job offshore.  Offshore?  Yep.  That’s right.  I applied for a job out on a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

I had convinced myself that it would be an adventure to be out there surrounded by nothing but water for miles and miles.  I convinced myself that I was not afraid of fire breaking out and having to jump into the shark-laden Gulf of Mexico and hope to be rescued before I became fish fodder.  The helicopter rides or boat rides in rough seas required to get to and from work every week had not even crossed my mind.  I assured myself that I would have my own room and bathroom and certainly would not be required to share with a bunch of dirty, greasy men.

Ignorance is bliss, unless you’re talking about the oilfield.  Lucky for me, before I could sign on this dotted line, I was called in to talk to a “company man” about my desire to go offshore.  Very sternly he asked, “Why do you want to work offshore?”  And the truth was, I didn’t have a good answer.  I never considered myself a women’s libber, but I guess to some people that is exactly what I was.  My internal attitude was never one of proving I was as good as, equal to, or better than a man.  I just didn’t have that chip on my shoulder.  Looking back, I’m sure he must have wondered what I was trying to prove.

My answer to his question was simply because I needed a job.  I explained how I had been unfairly fired from my job as a roustabout at their production dock.  I explained that he could ask my boss what a good job I had been doing.   Simple as that.  (“Sexual discrimination” had not yet become buzzwords; but in hindsight, I have to wonder if he saw the potential for a lawsuit?)

His next words come to me now as though he spoke them yesterday.  “You do NOT want to go offshore.  Believe me.”  It didn’t occur to me back then that this guy figured out who I was by my last name on the application, which was the same as my ex-father-in-law’s, who probably had an office down the hall.  Even though I was divorced, maybe he felt he would be held responsible for anything that might happen to me out there.  Maybe he just didn’t want my working offshore to become coffee-pot conversation between himself and my ex-father-in-law.  Whatever his motivation, it was to my benefit.

He picked up the phone, dialed a number, and spoke with authority to the guy on the other end.

“Hey, this is Gary Haynes at Offshore Drilling.  How many hands you got working down there?  Uh huh.  You got a weak hand?  Good.  Let him go.  This is his last hitch.  I got you a new night dispatcher starting next week.  Thanks.  Bye.”  Click.

And just like that, I had miraculously landed a better job than the one Timmy fired me from just days before. Of all the places Mr. Haynes could have put me in coastal Louisiana, he sent me back to the same bayou.  Only this time, I would be working at the drilling dock rather than the production dock, and there would be no physical labor.  I felt vindicated and victorious that my arch nemesis had not won this war after all.  The drilling dock was across the bayou and a little further down, and it would be a very, very long time before I saw the likes of Timmy again.

That victorious smirk was soon wiped right off my face by a bad turn of events.  While on the way to pick up my final paycheck at Coastal Welding, my new Buick Regal and I were involved in a two-car collision.  My car suffered a driver’s side crash, and I suffered a bad case of whiplash.

There was no way I was not going to show up for my new job.  With my car in the shop and a very stiff neck, I somehow hitched a ride to my new job.    The morning of my arrival, there were two young men standing on the office steps, watching me.  As I pulled my duffel out of the trunk, I heard one of them ask, “Who’s the blond chick?”  I never heard the answer, because Mr. Freddie opened the door at that instant, barking orders, the guys scattered like rats.

Oh boy, I thought, this must be my new boss and this is going to be interesting, never once thinking that these guys might not want me as their co-worker, either.

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    1. Hey Cotton wife! Have you been AWOL or just lurking? I love this submission!!! I think this might end up being a People’s Choice, though! Welcome back! BW (By the way, I thought of you in a recent post about the place we call home. Did you read People on Pilings?)

  1. Love the title submitted by “The Cotton Wife.” Here’s another: Cap’n Wendy’s Adventures in the Wetlands or How Wendy Wound Up in the Louisiana Wetlands!

    By the way, did I miss Chapter 3?

    1. Chapter 3 was “unpublished” due to a phone call I received suggesting I remove it until the time I could edit out some sensitive information. Sorry I had to do that. I know it’s not the most professional thing to do. And I haven’t decided whether or not I might be liable for anything I said. Bottom line–it was the chapter on how I got fired from roustabout job months later!!!!

  2. I found your website randomly a while back when I was homesick and looking for blogs about LA. (And have been an avid “lurker” ever since.) Love the story! How about “Offshore Office” for a title? Although, I kinda like “The Cotton Wife,” as well.

  3. I don’t have a catchy title, I must be off my game today. Will have to think on that and come back. I love the story. I am really beginning to miss my blogging days.

  4. I don’t have a catchy title but I like the one you mentioned about open toed to steel toed. I think everyone should come up with a title then you can have a vote to see which one is the most popular. I can’t wait to read each chapter. It’s a terrific story!

  5. How about something like…Open Toed, Steel toed, to Shrimp Booits…A Walk With Wendy.
    BTW, This Chapter is WAY TOO SHORT! Give us more.

  6. My suggestion is Wendy’s Wanderings: from the Oil Field to the Bayou Side.

    It’s so funny to read all this, most of which I was unaware when it was going on. Busy with college life, I guess.

  7. Loved chapters 3 & 4. I suggest “How the Bayou Got in My Blood” or something along that line. It’s such a progression of events that leads us to where we are now, isn’t it.

  8. I can’t think of a name right now because I’m still laughing…….hard!….about the skinny corn from chapter two. I went back to chapter one to refresh my memory.

    Speaking of memory, the first time I heard about you “working on the rigs” was right before we gathered for a Wilson family reunion. That’s what we heard, my dear, that you were driving a forklift on an oil rig in the Gulf. You corrected me when I saw you there. What a great time we had.