Become An Oilfield Hand, Learn To Paint


Union Oil, Signal Hill, California, 1921; Courtesy Huntington Beach Historical Society



Shit happens in the oilfield and this, above, is a big 'ol stinkin' mess.


When I was eight years old I could paint cattleguards with aluminum paint; that was clearly a good thing for me to do because I couldn't break anything and as long as I got an equal amount of paint on the cattleguard as I did myself, it was all pretty good and my dad would buy me a cold RC Cola from Mr. Brown's little store on the way home.


The downside to that job was the critters that would hide in open ended pipe on a cattleguard; holy moly... there use to be rats, rabbits, skunks and big ass snakes come out of those cattleguards... I'd get the hell scared out of me from time to time. And yellowjackets, man ! If I didn't get stung four times a day my dad use to say I was not working fast enough.


I've painted stock tanks, pumping units, pipe rail fences, concrete blocks, workover rigs, trucks, tools, fittings and entire drilling rigs in my 60 years in the oilfield. I worked floors one summer in Wyoming and the shit was so hard we were drilling we sometimes would not have to make a connection the entire 8 hour tower. We grew a garden for the tool pusher, kept his flower beds weeded, cleaned his trailer, washed his pickup and that mean son of a bitch use to hand us a gallon of blue paint every morning and say... hand, if it ain't movin,' paint it !


I never had to clean oil off somebody's home though, then repaint it, so that's somethin.'


This urban drilling stuff in the photo above was not for the faint hearted. Imagine having your well urp covering Mrs. Spitzel's entire home, soaking the house cat in goo, and ruining her rose garden. Now days if something like this happens you'd go straight to jail, no bail.


I'll take my wells in wide open spaces, thank you very much.