This is our last week with Lantern 16. Jimbo, our Company Man, told us on his way out on Wednesday. He said goodbye and shook our hands and said it had been a pleasure. And it has.
The rig is heading ‘home’ to Louisiana. Jimbo said he’d sure like to keep us but they don’t use gate guards down there (not where they’re going, at least).
Jimbo was our first CM and we were his first gate guards and it showed, on both accounts.
We looked each other over, and I’m not sure who was less certain it would work . There was a lot of chewing and spitting (him) and second guessing and praying (us).
We grew on each other.
The news of the move to Louisiana was the best thing most of our guys could hear. Many of them live only an hour or so from the new site. Even the guys that are driving 11 hours now, will only have to drive 5 1/2. They were celebrating!
On Thursday, word came down from headquarters that they had changed the plan and 16 was staying here.
Our momentary elation over still having a job and staying with this crew was squashed by the utter dejection of the men who were so disappointed not to be going home.
There was no joy in Mudville for us since they were so sad. Heidi baked consolation cookies for them, which Little John said turned the tide.
Friday the move was back on and we began days of goodbyes.
It’s been amazingly hard.
I’ll be honest, any reservations I had after meeting Jimbo, tripled when I first met our crew.
They didn’t seem real excited to meet me, either. You know how sometimes you just have that instant connection? We didn’t.
Heidi grew up spending her summers running in the farm fields, barefooted in galoshes, stomping mice.
I cried the first time I hit a squirrel with my car when I was 32.
This city girl took a look at these men, covered with attitudes and tattoos; who talked through a wad of chew, spit in cups and cans and just about anywhere; wore t-shirts with Confederate flags and skulls; and I wondered if I could possibly be any more out of my element?
Not only could I not understand them around the chew, but I couldn’t hear them over the constant roar of their diesels and I didn’t speak southern.
These good old red-necked southern boys (their words, not mine) weren’t used to having a gate guard they had to report to period, let alone two women old enough to be their mama’s (or much old sisters).
But for six months we’ve lived together, in a manner of speaking – usually never more than a tenth of a mile a part. We’re always close enough that they wave to us from the derrick and we wave back.
Actually, I wave just in case. I can’t really see that far.
We’ve grown on each other.
We’ve give them bags of chips and fruit and candy for the drive home to help keep them awake.
We’ve given them Easter eggs and May Day baskets and brownies and Father’s Day treats.
They’ve given me material night after night to write about here at Fork.
They’ve snared wild hogs right beside the RV in the middle of the night.
They’ve baked Mexican casseroles and wild hogs to share with us.
They’ve showered us with ice cream bars and peach pies and Juicy Fruit and Dentine.
I know about their daughters and their wives and their land and their guard donkeys and their dogs and their dreams.
I know them by their trucks and by their smiles, by their tales and by their troubles.
The past two nights, Jimmy, Little John and Bradley have brought us dinner from the new Subway in town. We didn’t even know there was a new Subway in town.
It’s also Heidi’s birthday – sooo appropriate! We saved last night’s gift for tonight’s birthday dinner!
Every day, almost every single guy asks if he can get something for us from town or WalMart or the DQ.
Every day, we say no, but thanks so much. They just keep asking anyway.
We’ve given each other a lot of things these past 6 months. Mostly we’ve given friendship.
It’s kind of unconventional and certainly unlikely, as friendships go, but rock solid – just like our crew. If you can’t read this tattoo, it says RIG 16 at the top and Lantern at the bottom. Seems appropriate for men who place so much value in loyalty.
I’ve seen what they do to wild hogs. These are guys you don’t want to mess with.
They’re a band of brothers and for the past 6 months, we’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the family.
And they aren’t just fierce, they’re funny:
Justin: Hey Lady! (who’s going to call me Hey Lady now that you’re gone, Justin?)
Me: Hey Justin! How are you doing tonight?
Justin: Just Lovely!
We’re going to miss all you lovely guys so much!
Knock me over with feather.
You’ve won my heart. How could I resist?
Texas won’t be the same without you!
Be safe and God speed.