On my journey I have been able to meet countless strangers who have turned into lifelong friends. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet many people I knew in my previous lives (working in the Persian Gulf, studying in Spain, working in Denmark, etc).
When I went to Jordan I got in touch with two Jordanians I worked with in Qatar. One was my boss and he is working in Canada now. The other, Amr, was still in Qatar and by chance he said he’d be back in Jordan while I was there. GREAT!
Amr joined my crew of operators in 2005 when I was a new engineer. He was a tall, strong Jordanian and I was told he has attitude problems. He joined my crew of an Indian crew chief and a Filipino operator. We ended up spending months and months of our lives offshore together, working in close proximity, and generally becoming part of each other’s lives. It’s the only way to survive.
Not only did Amr have no attitude problems, he really flourished. He rapidly progressed through the coursework necessary for promotions in our downtime offshore and I was happy to promote him every time.
My relationship with my crew was rock solid. I trusted them completely since they knew how to do their job a million times better than I knew how to do their job. Since I trusted them and didn’t micromanage them, they worked twice as hard to get everything right, knowing that if they made a mistake I’d probably be fired. It worked well and we operated like a family.
I also stuck up for my crew. One time when we were offshore, things went wrong and we ended up finishing a 48-hour long job (none of us had any sleep) in the middle of summer (50F/122F and humid) right at noon, the hottest part of the day. We came inside to eat and then get some long overdue sleep. The head guy on the rig called me and said they just looked at the weather forecast and it would be ideal if we set our equipment back up again, a two hour process.
Stuff like that is a bit soul crushing, when you feel the sense of completion, you are exhausted beyond comprehension, and you are so close to the reward of sleeping. Most engineers would do anything these oil company guys ask, but I told him I’d have to check with my crew – if anyone on the crew had an attitude problem it was me and I didn’t like being pushed around. I was fine for another two hours in the air conditioned unit, but my guys had to work outside in that horrible heat having had no rest. I talked to them and in the end they said they could handle it.
The oil company people were happy that we helped cover up their bad planning, and my crew respected me for respecting them. Afterward, there were times we put everything on hold for 8 hours (costing the oil company more money than you can imagine) to sleep before continuing to work.
We met up in Amman, having coffee, eating ridiculously good food, and catching up after almost seven years. His family has expanded more than I realized, his plans for the future were coming together nicely, and we laughed more than I ever thought possible. What’s more important than that? I hope it won’t be seven more years until I see him again!