Hard hats can be very clean when you don't get out of the pickup very often. When they just sit on a credenza in the office unsuspecting visitors will tend to actually think you go to the field now and then. Put a company logo on the front of a hard hard and bingo, you are a big shot. They look good when you walk up to the floor for photo ops.
Generally speaking, however, the best hard hats, the ones with real character, are stinkin' dirty. It happens when you work from can't see to can't see.
Sometimes hard hats just get too damn filthy to wear and you have to pitch 'em. Unfortunately the EPA nor the BOEM have disposal standards for hard hats in the oil and natural gas industry...
Hard hats are like gloves, when you take them off and set them down the sumbitches seem to disappear. Then have to go looking where you left the damn stuff before you can go back up on the floor. That can sometimes be embarrassing.
Hard hats will keep your head warm in the winter and in the summer they will definitely keep the sun from cooking your brains out. They rarely prevent you from getting oily teeth, however, and never keep your ears clean.
When hard hats are hard enough, they work, and keep you from getting your skull caved it...
The great Myron Kinley worked on a blowout one time that was hurling big rocks everywhere so he screwed his hard hat on top of a football helmet, complete with nose guard across the front.
Tin hard hats in the well control business provide a good shield from you and the fire if you keep your head cocked properly. They can definitely keep your face from getting all the skin burned plum off of it. Plastic hard hats around a fire are no bueno.
Some hands get the big head when they are wearing a hard hat and like to appear sort of stealthy...
or like they're a real bad ass....
...or they get sassy.
This hard hat of Joe Carpenters went to every country in the world with an oil or natural gas well in it, at least nine times. It could sure 'nuff tell some stories.
Hard hats can be used for advertising, to let people know you have been around the block as a seasoned professional. They can also be used to make certain political statements....
They can also be so damn fancy you'd be scared to take 'em out of the box. Imagine droppin' this puppy out of a rackin' board?
When I was a kid I worked offshore for about six months on a big jack up in about 400 feet of water, offshore LA. I'd come off a rig in S. Texas as a driller but was put in the derrick. We had a really wormy motorman on that rig, a kid from Iowa, I think. He had a big fat head and no hair. He could not keep a hard hat on his head for his life. His hard hats were always blowing over the rail and falling in the ocean. I'll bet that hand lost at least four
of them that I recall the few months I worked with him. When he'd make a new hitch sometimes he'd carry 2 or 3 hard hats in his work bag. I suspect the Gulf Current was littered with this worm's hard hats, all floating east toward Florida.
If we needed him around the moon pool, or on the sub deck below the rotary table, we knew he'd lose his damn hard hat so we took to duck-taping the son of a bitch to his head; multiple wraps over the top of his hard hat under his chin... looked like he had a big tooth ache or something. We'd tape it down so hard he could barely speak and his face would get red as beet.
Folks are always finding hard hats on Texas beaches; above is a damn tree full of 'em on South Padre Island.
Some hard hats are famous and go into museums...
Others you just want to keep for old time sake...
Some hands can make wearing hard hats look really cool.
Hard hats that have big dents in 'em always make you wonder if the
underlying subject didn't receive permanent brain damage when the incident occurred.
Indications of permanent brain damage by said subject might be a.) continuing to operate oil and gas wells at 68 years old or, b.) writing dumb blog posts about hard hats from his pickup during tubing trips.
Thanks for reading Oily Stuff !!
Header Photograph by Dave Wilson; Kuwait, 1991