Decoding the Path to Success, Through the Eyes of Our Heroes
Heroes are examples of how to stay the course, how to succeed, how to sustain our attitudes, how to keep life in balance. Some are there daily, in our conscious mind, showing us the way. Someone we will never forget.
It’s What You Do Next That CountsGoing to college for me meant that I had to pay for it. Room, board, tuition, books, all of it. It’s not so uncommon.In the summer after my freshman year if you wanted to make a lot of money….. legally….. you needed to do something that had a hint of danger in it. I worked for a drilling company. It wasn’t oil field drilling. But it looked a lot like it. We were in the Big Bend country of Texas. That’s deep southwest Texas. Whatever the word is after desolate, that’s the Big Bend. It’s brown and gray. Temperatures reach and exceed 110 degrees every day in the summer. It makes the “Hinges of Hell” look like a glass of ice tea, and it has all the critters you’d expect to find in the desert. The Big Bend is where the outlaws hid from pursuers at the turn of the last century. It was roamed by the Comanche, Comancheros, Apache and a few other social clubs. When you looked across the land you expected to see the cavalry on patrol as they were in the 1880s and 90s, or John Wayne to ride around that big rock outcropping over there. We “lived” in Terlingua. A ghost town. The driller, who was sent there by the business owner to be in charge, brought his family with him. We became close as I had all of my meals with them, played with their 2 year old son, sat on the porch and drank beer with Rocky, my driller. We worked 3 shifts,24/7. Rocky and I had the 8am to 4pm shift. On this Friday we worked our shift and went back to our quarters. There was no motel, just an abandoned set of Adobe rooms we occupied. No running water. No phone, no tv, no radio, and no dang a/c. It had electricity, but nothing very comfortable. We had dinner and went to bed. Rocky awakened me at 11pm. The graveyard shift couldn’t work. One of their crew had been seriously injured in a car wreck. So, Rocky and I had to keep the rig operating. On not much sleep we returned to the rig. We would work that 8-hour shift (midnight to 8am Saturday morning) and then ours again if things went as planned. Working all night was different, but all the same things had to be done. The desert has exactly zero light pollution. The Milky Way was so clear I wasn’t sure if it sat on top of the rig or on my shoulder. It happened somewhere around first light on Saturday morning.We were pulling the drill stem (pipe) out of the hole. About 900+ feet of pipe. We had only pulled about 200 feet of pipe when it happened. There was no warning. Nothing to anticipate. Just react. Something slipped. It did not hold the pipe in place. As we raised the lengths of pipe out of the hole we disconnected each 20 foot length, stacked it and reconnected the tools to lift the next pipe length from the hole. All of a sudden something let go. When “it” slipped all hell broke loose for about 20 seconds. The loudest noise I’ve ever heard. The rig was bounced like a marble on concrete. I have trained in simulated war environments where noise is used to dis-orient you as a battlefield would. For a brief moment it was that distracting. And then there was dead silence. I was in the tower, 20+ feet off the drill floor. Rocky was on the drill floor handling the 3” steel cable spool that lifted the pipe from the hole. When everything slipped Rocky pulled the brake handle on the drum that spooled the cable. The cable attached through the top of the rig down to the drill pipe. When he pulled on the brake it stopped the pipe from careening down the hole. The cable was attached to 700 feet of pipe. A very heavy load was plummeting down the hole. Pulling the brake handle caused an enormous chain reaction that jolted the entire rig. That jolt bent iron platform that Rocky stood on like it was cardboard. The steel cable snapped and flew into the air. Like a garden hose in the back yard. It snapped because Rocky had pulled the brake handle on the spool. When he did the cable wrapped around Rocky’s hand. And then 700 feet of pipe tightened the cable around Rocky’s hand as it went back down the hole. I looked down and that’s when I saw Rocky. Bent over, holding his hand, in obvious agony and pain. He didn’t say a word. Not a whimper. He was a big, tough German. I climbed down, dazed. He told me to cut his glove off. I did. What I saw next has never left my memory. I’ve never described what I saw. But I see it every day. I hear the noise, then the deafening silence of the rig. I drove Rocky back to our quarters. About 5 miles away. His wife saw us coming up the dirt road. Dust flying at 7am. She knew it wasn’t good. We weren’t supposed to be there. We packed his hand in ice. The geologist from the rig was right behind us. We loaded Rocky and his wife with him. And they drove to the nearest hospital ………90 miles away!!I then drove 8-10 miles to the nearest phone. There, I called the highway patrol and my boss in Austin. I was crying like a baby. I stayed with the rig and our quarters. Got them secured. It was a very rough country of folks down there. I had everything secured when my boss arrived from Austin to take over. Then I went to see Rocky. I felt the accident was my fault. That I had made a mistake. I knew he couldn’t have. I blamed myself, and not all of that feeling is gone today. I stood there in his hospital room on trembling legs. Once again tears streaming down my face. But Rocky assured me it was no one’s fault. “Just one of those things” he said. Then he told me the greatest lesson I believe I’ve ever learned. He said, “Ed, what’s happened is done. No one’s to blame. But…..… it’s what YOU do next that counts.” Here’s a guy who has been traumatized. His ability to work is dramatically impacted. And he’s thinking of me. His lesson was pretty obvious. I can quit and never get on a rig again. No one would blame me after what had happened. Or, I can go back to work. Get all the spiders out of my head. Keep on going. I went back to work on rigs. But it wasn’t in the Big Bend! Rocky wasn’t going to be there. I’m grateful for Rocky and his family. I’m grateful for the country and the people of the Big Bend. I’m grateful for the experience. And I’m grateful I was spared that day.I was given an opportunity. A chance to see life. A chance to live up to another person’s expectations. And a chance to make it count. Rocky, I hope what I did next has counted.
Determination Motivation Inspiration Keynote Speaker Motivational Speaker
, size, 0pt, rocky, pipe, rig, hole, cable, wasn, work, bend, grateful, brake, hand, pulled, drill, happened, shift, drove, looked, miles, worked, chance, handle, country, quarters, slipped, noise, day, things
Please note: Expert must be credited by name when an article is reprinted in part or in full.
Share with your colleagues, friends or anyone