Ben Austin, for the entry "Waka Flocka and Ben, Pump 16"
aaaaaaaaaand we're back. To my highly devoted handful of followers, thank you for always tagging along no matter where my stream on consciousness tends to lead us. That being said, the title was the shortest way for me to sum up my overall experience working for Schlumberger this summer, but I'll come back to that. Let me first address a major transition in my life. The transition from just another boyfriend to fiance. From dating to engaged. Let me tell you something, this girl is the real deal. She pushes me to be the man I am supposed to be and that's how I knew (along with about 748,921 reasons) that she was the one to marry. I cannot possibly do justice to how excited I really am to spend the rest of my life with this woman.
and now back to our regularly scheduled programming... I had spent three weeks working my butt off in the field trying to learn as much as I could. As you could reasonable assume, the oilfield is not an easy place to work and requires serious dedication to learn all the ins and outs of the major equipment necessary for the job at hand (in my case, hydraulic fracturing in natural gas reserves, you are all welcome for the gentle rocking to sleep that just gave you). Over these three weeks I had spent hour after hour swinging a hammer, adjusting chemical additives, changing parts out on pumps and other technical tasks all with help and close supervision form others. After these three weeks the crew that I had worked with, and grown very close to, was reassigned to well sites just south of San Antonio, so my engineer mentor and I were assigned to another job site here in Shreveport. We had been on our first day with this other client for about 4 hours when the defining moment of my internship occurred (in the field, obviously nothing trumps getting engaged to my other half). This fracturing is done in stages and requires 20 pumps for the high pressure and flow rate necessary, so working with so many pumps working so hard means they will frequently need maintenance between stages and this is handled by operators in groups of two.
After each stage the supervisor in charge of monitoring the pumps calls out the pumps needing maintenance and lists which parts must be replaced/repaired. My first three weeks were spent playing third wheel to two operators on my old crew while observing, asking questions about, and slowly helping out in the repairs/replacements. This day was different. It was about 7:30 am and the pump supervisor was calling out pump need and the pairs assigned to each when the final assignment rang out over the walkie talkies, "Waka Flocka and Ben, Pump 16. 1- and 3-hole packing, change all valves and seats." First off, Waka Flocka is the nickname of one operator on the new crew I moved to since he looks exactly like the rapper of the same name. Second all the stuff after the pump number just told us which parts to work on. Finally, this meant I was being counted on to handle this pump just like any other operator working the field. This meant that the pump supervisor asked my mentor, Sam, during the stage if I could hold my own on a pump, if I knew my stuff and could come through, and if I could be trusted to fix a $1.2 million piece of machinery. His answer was yes, and just like that, it was my time to show what I had learned.
Men always want a chance to come through. We want the last at-bat, we want the big presentation on the project we've spent months on. Although some guys shy away form the big pressure situation, that just means they walk away from the chance to deliver. This summer has been challenging on many levels, but every bit as rewarding as well. In one call-out over the radio, I was challenged to step up and handle a job, and you bet your ass I did everything in my power to repack that pump, change valves and seats and have it up and running at over 2200 horsepower for the next stage. It meant the world to me to know the supervisors on my new crew counted on me, knowing that I could finish the job.
"Waka Flocka and Ben, Pump 16"