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Readers Write - Snake Bit!

Andy’s Note:  Clay and his wife are new to the South Texas gate guarding business and I count him as a new found friend from over on the MyOldRV message forum which has been quite active lately with new members.  Clay had a bad experience right off the bat on his new oil field gate guard job  with wore out and over extended equipment.  After battling that longer than  I would have, he switched gate  guard companies.   He is West Texas Oilfield Trash from waaaay back and hails from out around Iraan — just gotta like the guy!

Snake Bit! by Clay

The week that was and shouldn’t have been seems almost like it is going to repeat itself. I promised Andy I would write a piece for the “Readers Write” portion of his blog some 2 weeks ago. Yet because of the previous week that was and shouldn’t have been, I have not fulfilled that promise until my conscious got to where it wouldn’t even let me sleep. So here goes, even though I probably will have to get up and down 5 million times to check these oilfield hands in and out of the gate.

I am alone today. I sent Mary (AKA Miss Stinky – a story for another time) into Cuero today to check on her older sister whom, we were informed by her daughter last night, has been placed in the hospital with a bladder infection. Normally you might not get checked into the hospital for such as that except in extreme cases, but this is different. My sister-in-law has middle to late stage Lou Gehrig’s disease. Of all the people I know who might deserve to contract this God awful incurable disease she would have never made the list. But she has it. And as Andy likes to say, “It is what it is.”

But this post isn’t about that. Actually I am not sure what it’s going to be about. I have an idea. Thus the title snake bit. Maybe I’ll start there. Ever seen the results of a snake bite, like as in a rattlesnake bite or cottonmouth bite? It’s bad enough that the critter is going to leave 2 holes, fang marks, wherever it is that he bites you. But that’s just the beginning of a long slide downhill, even if they can get you some anti-venom pretty quick. Not all venoms work or act alike and I am not about to go into any sort of detail of the side effects of envenomation.  But suffice it to say, when you get snake bit, the bite itself is just the beginning of your troubles and that’s the whole point I was trying to make anyway.

Now, an aside before we get started on this little essay, looking at the word count on this document I see that I now have 366, oops, 368, dang, now 371, stop already!  I have 376 words on the word count and since any piece that is to be considered for this “Readers Write” thing has to be 500 words minimum, I can see that I will probably go well over that little hurdle (If Miss Stinky were here she’d be shaking her head saying something like, “Go figure.”) and thus, will probably make this a short series. That is if the first one makes the grade and Andy will let me continue. Now back to the story.

This past week has been one that if I had my druthers, I’d of just left out. And I am pretty sure most of the hands on the rig would have done the same. 4 trips in 3 days out of the hole with only 2500 ft left to go and only getting 10 feet of new hole in all of that effort makes for a long day, much less a long week. And as I was watching all the goings on I began to think of similar things I have seen and heard in my experiences in the oilfield and just thought I would put it all down on paper (really? They still make paper?)

This isn’t my first day, not even my second in the oilfield, guess you could say it’s in my blood, even though it skipped a couple generations before it got to me. My great grandfather was a wildcatter back in West Virginia around the turn of the 20th century. He owned 6 strings of tools, which back in the day made him a pretty prosperous fellow considering the little burg they lived in. And he had a reputation, as my grandmother tells me of being able to spit with his eyes closed and then poke a hole wherever the spittle landed and hit oil. He had an eye for the land and had enough experience  that oil companies from all over Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia would wait till he had a rig free just so he could drill their wells. So yes, he was good. Might even say he was real good… real good as in he was a millionaire a couple times over. And then the snake crept into his life and you might say it was downhill from there, mostly.

The little burg where Happy lived was populated mostly by his kinfolks. So much so that he was afraid of what the grandchildren were gonna look like if he didn’t find a fresh source of DNA. So hearing that oil had been found in the Tulsa area he loaded up all that was his and along with his family, moved to Tulsa. According to my grandmother, there is a huge old mansion close to downtown that the state of Oklahoma has preserved as one of the state landmarks, and it is this mansion that I am told was the house that Happy Mason built for his bride and was the house my grandfather was born in.

When they told my great-grandfather (“Happy” was his nickname) there was oil in Tulsa, what they failed to tell him was the oil tended to be located in the same area as a series of salt domes. And those same salt domes were to my grandfather kind of like the same snake that bit this rig we are sitting next to today. 6 strings of tools and a fortune of gold all lost in 6 different salt domes in the oil fields around Tulsa. You’d think that would be the end. It wasn’t. And if I am allowed to continue I will add another installment in the life and times of “Happy Mason” and of all the snakes that tried to kill his self-determination and failed.

As far as this rig and this hole goes, well they sent the 5th MWD tool down the hole. Brought in half a dozen specialists and more than one Big Dog Company man and the snake slithered away. They had planned to cement production casing Saturday before last. Didn’t happen. But it did happen this past Saturday and they skidded the rig 15 ft and are now making hole on the 3rd and final well on this pad. Damn snakes!
Hey Andy, 1074… dammit, 1076……….. never mind!


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