I’m on the rig for Thanksgiving this year. It happens. I missed both Thanksgiving and Xmas in 2009, was home for them both last year, and this year it’s Thanksgiving again. It’s always a drag being away from home for a major holiday, especially a family oriented one, but the catering crew always does a great job. This year the menu was:
Assorted Fruit, Vegetable Tray, Deviled Eggs, Hot Crab Dip, Cocktail Smokies, Cocktail Meatballs, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Cold Cut Tray, Cheese Tray, Shrimp Cocktail, Crackers, Mixed Nuts, Egg Nog, Broiled Lobster Tails and Steamed Crab Legs with Drawn Butter, Glazed Ham, Baked Turducken, Duck Tasso Gumbo, Dressing, Gravy, Mac and Cheese, Rice, Green Bean Casserole, Candied Yams, Holiday Cake, Fruit Cake, Candies, Carrot Cake, Assorted Cheesecakes, Cookies, Fudge, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Banana Pudding, Strawberry Shortcake, and Pralines.
So yeah, we weren’t hurting for good food.
Work doesn’t stop on the rig, of course, but only the essential work continues. The guys on the rig floor have to keep drilling, but for us guys down in the technical and maintenance jobs, we pretty much just kick back unless there’s essential repairs needed somewhere. Today I had one little thing to take care of the first hour of my 12-hour shift, so I spent the other 11 hours eating food and playing through Mass Effect on my laptop. Good times.
It also gave me some time to relax and reflect on the past year. So, in the spirit of the holiday…
I’m thankful for my health. I turned 42 this year. There are a couple of things I’m still working on, and there are mornings when I’m a little more stiff than I’d like, but by and large I’m in excellent health. I’ve lost over 30 pounds this year (only ten more pounds to my “ideal weight”); thanks to that and my work on the rig, I can confidently say that I’m in the best shape of my life.
I’m thankful for my job. There were times when I was working for Applied when I despaired of ever getting out of the hand-to-mouth financial plan. I loved working there when I started, but the work environment steadily worsened until it was just grinding me down. In the end, I worked there because I needed the money and that was it. When I took their buyout, it was more out of desperation than anything else. What I got into was better than I could have ever guessed. Working on the rig is tough, don’t get me wrong. Being away from my friends and family for three weeks at a time isn’t fun, it’s a pretty rough environment to work in much less live in, and it’s not like I can run out to a movie or something to take a break from it all. But it’s interesting, it’s challenging, the pay is great, and I only work six months out of the year. I can’t think of any other job I’d rather have.
I’m thankful for the reception my writing has received. I’ve written for years, but this year I was finally published and got some pretty good reviews. It’s been a wonderful introduction to a world I’ve only looked at from the sidelines. Half the fun of it’s been just getting to know people and make new friends. The other half is writing more.
I’m thankful for my family and friends, the close and extended relationships I have that keep me going. It may seem counterintuitive, but working on the rig has actually strengthened those bonds. When I’m home I have the free time to do the things I want without having to worry about work the next day or deal with an on-call phone, so I can consciously spend time with the people important to me rather than trying to fit them into the cracks of time between work and sleep. I can go to movies in the middle of the week. I can get together for gaming all day Saturday without having to fret over using my only day off for two weeks. They support me, share in my successes, and tolerate my oddities. I’m so much more relaxed and happy now than I ever was before, and I have them all to thank for it.
Yeah, it’s been a pretty good year, and I’m thankful for it.