Oilman Cartoon – Summer Hands


Pennzoil, like most oil companies hired petroleum engineer students as summer-hands. These summer-hands can grow into full grown petroleum engineers, and occasionally they can become bosses. I, like most field-hands, look at these summer-hands and wonder what kind of bosses they will make.

When people ask me what a summer-hand needs to survive in a summer in the field, I tell them, besides the PPE, the most important thing is a sense of humor. Some field-hands view this as their only opportunity to devil a prospective boss. A summer-hand’s attitude and how well he can take a joke will set the pace for his, as well as our entire summer. Besides every field-hand will tell you once he becomes a boss he will no longer posses his sense of humor.

One year we had a summer-hand from one of the most reputable petroleum engineering schools in Texas. He was a young lanky kid that an old-timer would describe as having to “stand twice to cast a shadow.” He told us his dad was the V.P. for a major drilling company, (As a field-hand I noticed how most summer-hands have V.P.’s for dads). After a few days of the standard pranks, I found myself working in the well bay with the summer-hand. I asked him to go to the tool locker and bring me a crescent. After a few seconds of silence the young hand turned to me with a blank expression and asked, “What’s that?”

Now, how a man gets to be in his twenties and doesn’t know a thing about tools is beyond me. I guess that is the difference between a field-hand’s son and a V.P.’s son. All I knew was this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

I walked over to the tool locker with the summer-hand and picked up a crescent. I selected one that had the brand name “Crescent” stamped into the handle. “This is a crescent,” I explained. “What does it say on the handle?”

“Crescent,” he replied.

I then picked up a 1 7/16th wrench. “What is this?” I asked, as I handed the wrench to him.

He glanced at the handle and said “A Williams.”

I knew the brand name Williams was cast into the handle. “That is correct”, I responded.

I then proceeded to explain the difference between a male and female connection. After showing him a 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch bushing I asked him, “What is this?”

“A bi-sexual,” he exclaimed.

The young summer-hand went on to become a full grown engineer and today he’s a boss for a major production company.

If you’re ever on a location and your boss tells you to “tighten your bi-sexual with a Williams,” you can just thank me.

May your boots be dry, your coffee fresh, and your gloves new. Kybree.

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Steve Burnett has been working in the oil industry since the age of 16. He started out working construction on a pipeline crew and after retirement, finishes his career as a Pipeline Safety Compliance Inspector. He has a degree in art and watched oil and art collide in his career to form the “Crude Oil Calendars.” He also taught in the same two fields and believes that while technology has advanced, the valuable people at the core of the industry and the attributes they encompass, remain the same. With a humorist for a father, he also learned that a dose of comedy makes everything better. The major influences on his cartooning style were the Ace Reid Cowpokes cartoons, the Dirk West sports cartoons and V.T. Hamlin's Alley Oop comic.

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