“Can’t” Is Not In My Vocabulary!

Women today are given every opportunity to do just about anything they want career-wise. There are however, still some areas of male-dominated fields of employment, where women haven’t made significant advancements. One of those would be the oil field industry. Don’t get me wrong, there are women in that field, some work driving trucks and some throw iron or monitor electronic equipment in the command centers on fracking jobs. Some have adventured into the vast engineering fields of the petroleum industry, become loggers, company women, or executives in offices of large oil companies. One large part of this mass conglomeration of service companies and oil producers, however, hasn’t met with too many women that can with stand the harsh realities of such hard labor—that would be drilling or pulling unit parts.

Some women have tried this end of the industry and most have failed. Whether it’s because of the lack of brute strength, the hazardous weather conditions, or the inability to overcome the unspoken earned “rite of passage” so often attributed to the rig life, many women do not survive on the drilling field. Right or wrong, the fact remains as my husband has put it to me, “They will eat you alive.”

Why do I bring this up? Because at one point, my husband and I had a very heated discussion about my desire to work in the oil field. I wanted to make the kind of money he was making out there in the patch. At the time he was what is known in the oil industry as a “fisherman,” and he was a good one. He made a bunch of money doing that, and I wanted to learn how to do what he did. I wasn’t too happy with him when he laughed at me. His response made me even more determined. “You can’t do what I do, you have to earn your ‘bones’ out there, and you’ve never even been on a location. Hell, you don’t even call a ‘pump jack’ by the right name. You’ve referred to them several times as ‘oil rigs.’ You have to earn your knowledge by putting in time on drilling rigs, and learning what’s going on downhole.”

I told him, “I can do that, I’m smart and I could learn to do anything.” He laughed at me again, but this time seemed more serious with his response. “You wouldn’t survive five minutes with those guys, they would chew you up and spit you out before lunch. Besides, no wife of mine is going to work on a drilling rig.” Needless to say, I wasn’t happy being given such an order, especially since I was a modern American woman, and I could do anything.

After several attempts behind my husband’s back to obtain a position as a “roughneck” to no avail, I conceded that perhaps I wasn’t cut out to perform such hard tasks. Giving up the idea of being a “fisherman,” I asked my husband with complete sincerity, “What CAN I do in the oil field?” He patiently thought it over and eventually revealed to me that I could “maybe” drive a truck.

So, I took him at his word and went to truck driving school. I’m sure in the back of his mind when I asked for the money for that adventure he was thinking, “What a waste of four thousand dollars,” believing I would fail or drop out of school. When I didn’t fail or drop out, he was surprised. I think he was even more surprised when I landed my first job only three weeks out of school, hauling sand for the fracking companies.

I might not have learned about the oil field from the platform of a drilling rig, but I have learned about it from the driver’s seat of an 18 wheel truck. Love you babe!

Robyn with truck-Blog 4


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