An intimate look at the dangerous and hectic lives of oil workers

Oil fascinates Lasley because it offers a cheat code for the economic ascension game, being one of the few avenues for high-paid (and leg...


Oil fascinates Lasley because it offers a cheat code for the economic ascension game, being one of the few avenues for high-paid (and legal) blue-collar opportunities in his country. She’s already met a few oil workers: they drive flashy cars, wear expensive clothes, get tattoos, and snort the best cocaine in the country. “The kind of people you would want at a house party, provided the house isn’t yours,” she writes.

Credit…via Tabitha Lasley

The trouble begins about a moment after Lasley got off the plane in Scotland. She notices a man at the airport, pale and compact with freckles on the bridge of his nose. He carries around the telltale oil tanker bag. “I’m looking for men like you,” Lasley said, seeing it as a prime interview topic. The man, who turns out to be the lucky future recipient of his selfies, refuses to give him his phone number, citing the fact that he is married. But he still finds a way to meet her, and they drink soon, and chemical signals are exchanged. The chapter ends with a hotel room scene that would be rated TV-MA for “strong sexual content” if it appeared on Netflix.

What was meant to be some sort of book – a systematic investigation into oil extraction – zags for a time in doomed romance. Caden, at 30, is four years younger than the author, but he’s also better equipped with the accessories of adulthood: wife, kids, steady job, and, inexplicably, eight televisions. The two fall in love and, to Lasley’s surprise, Caden offers to leave his wife, in a suggestion that arrives via text:

“What do you think about the fact that we are good together ??? “

To which Lasley replies: “Okay”.

I challenge you to come up with a less romantic scenario. (Food poisoning? Cleaning up the litter box?) Almost as quickly as the case begins, she crumbles under the weight of the logistics of the divorce. What seemed like a simple mathematical equation (man plus woman minus troublesome woman equals happiness) becomes one of those diabolical questions of LSAT logic. Rather than pick up his resolution pen, Caden dumps the author and returns to his wife. That’s when the book finally gets good.

Whatever alleged charms Caden may have had in real life, he appears on the page as a preening dummy – an outgoing scrambled voicemail, an obvious lie-teller, and someone whose hobbies are limited to shopping and complaining. With him out of the way, Lasley returns to his original obsession: toasting plumbers, scaffolders and pliers about their jobs. Some work on drilling rigs – the mobile units designed to drill wells – and others work on rigs, which are set above wells to extract and process oil.

They talk to him about occupational risks, large and small. Small dangers relate to the realities of squeezing dozens of men into remote confined spaces. To avoid quarrels and quarrels, each man must observe a hundred microscopic courtesies during his day: leaving the toilet seat unmarked, wiping the grime of its stubble from a sink after shaving, programming with tact. privacy in shared cabins.

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Newsrust - US Top News: An intimate look at the dangerous and hectic lives of oil workers
An intimate look at the dangerous and hectic lives of oil workers
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