Days Off in the North Dakota Oil Fields
I usually write about rigs and well related topics, but this month I’m going to break from the norm a little and tell a story about my friends and I from a few years ago in North Dakota. It’s drilling related, if that helps.
The fishing department and I had been working pretty much night and day and, even though we lived together, we saw very little of each other and didn’t have time to socialize much. To add to the fun, every week or two, a guy we didn’t know would show up from the front office with a new batch of unworkable “rules and policies.” Fishermen being what they are, we pretty much ignored him. But he was still a pain.
That particular year, we all happened to get a couple days off at the same time, with one of those days being April Fool’s Day. We decided that day it would be a good idea to go eat lunch, have a beer and socialize a little. We lived in the little town of Alexander, N.D. (pop. 180). There was a breakfast restaurant and a couple saloons. The best one was called the Hi-Way Lounge, and it had a really good kitchen. They also had a bloodhound inside and we could smoke, but that’s another story.
While we were enjoying some world-class burgers and adult beverages, and realizing that it was April Fool’s Day, we got to talking about the various things we had done on that day. Some pretty good tales were told, and we decided we needed to do something memorable for — or to — our coworkers. Since we had been having trouble with the interloper from the front office, we cooked up a plan.
We called a couple of the secretaries and told them that the man from the front office had come into the saloon. Furthering the tale, we told them that when our manager, Tony, saw him, he snapped and started beating the stuffing out of him. My friend James, who was in on it, and I added that the manager was placed under arrest and was headed for the county jail.
Our victims, being naïve young ladies, got hysterical and started calling everybody for bail money. We, on the other hand, were having a good time. One of our associates, who wasn’t there, wasn’t having it — probably because he knew us too well. We were trying to think of a convincing way to keep the tale going when a friend of ours came in. Keep in mind that the police response time in Alexander is about two hours, and we didn’t see many officers. But Sergeant Adams just happened to be on patrol that day, and came in to see that everything was OK.
He sat down with us and had a cup of coffee, while we told him what we were up to. He thought that it was pretty funny, so we decided, with his help, to escalate the situation a little. We all went outside and filmed our manager “getting arrested” — possessions on the hood, handcuffs, loaded in the car — the whole deal. Now we had convincing proof! After sending the “proof” to a couple of the secretaries in the office, we had them calling and lining up lawyers, making care packages, etc.
We sat in the saloon, drinking beer and answering increasingly desperate calls from all over, as the word spread, as to how poor Tony was being railroaded. We started hearing from James’ Marine buddies in Pennsylvania, who offered to invade North Dakota. Roughnecks from Oklahoma and Texas were offering to come up and “line things out.” We had offers for help from all over.
We managed to keep this up until 10 p.m., when we asked one of our victims if she knew what day it was. There was a long silence, followed by the kinds of things that can’t be printed in a family publication. That incident was talked about for a long time, and the victims never really let us live it down — but it was worth it!
A good time was had by all (of the jokers, anyway), and I’ve still got pics somewhere.
I’ll get back on track next month, but I just had to share that one with y’all.
For more Wayne Nash columns, visit www.nationaldriller.com/wayne.