[REPOST (July 2013)] The Beer Fueled Poker Game that Almost Got Me Fired (Part 3 of 3)

You should start with Part 1 and Part 2 if you are new to this story, which originally appeared on LandmanLife in July of 2013. The names of those people involved have been changed for their own privacy, but anyone that knows these characters can easily figure out who’s who.

After the original publishing of this story, I was forwarded an email thread between about 7 of my former crew members. They were trying to figure out who had written this story…and at the end of the thread, they accurately identified me. I thought it was pretty hilarious, because the only person that was actually “offended” was the woman involved in this story (there are plenty more stories about her for another time). Her response was, “It had to be him, he’s the only one that could actually write something like that.” I’ll take it as a compliment I guess…anyways, here’s the story.

So I was still in the dark about what had gone on the night before, but knew that it was something pretty fucking serious. The owner of our company drove over 5 hours to come chew us out, and my buddies were still inside talking with him. Everyone else didn’t want to be sitting around while some of our coworkers were probably about to get fired, so we all shuffled outside. After a few cigarettes our crew chief suggested we all go have an early lunch (it was still early enough for breakfast in my book) which seemed like a better idea than hanging around the office with an angry owner on a rampage. About 7 or so of us walked the block and a half up the street to the only good Mexican food place in town and sat down at a table. Things were a little awkward for me since I was the only young guy not involved with whatever the “incident” was and I could sense that the older guys at the table with me were still wondering how I had stayed out of trouble. Usually I would have been right there in the middle of it.

Our crew chief started talking about what had gone on but as usual kept his attitude “intentionally vague.” Then he looked right at me and said, “so, were you there at the pool last night when the incident occurred?” I replied honestly that I had gotten too drunk to make it to the pool and had passed out in my room. His response did not bode well for my buddies still at the office, “well, passing out at that moment may have been one of the best things you could do for your job on this crew. Be glad that you didn’t make it to the pool.” At this point I really started wondering what the fuck could have gone down at the pool and why my buddies were in such deep shit about it, but didn’t want to press for more details. We all ordered our food from the fat Mexican waitress. Some of my coworkers seemed to really enjoy hitting on her despite (or maybe because of) her lack of understanding of the English language, she had an amazing capacity to fuck up even the simplest orders. I drank my iced tea, ate my tacos, and tried to ignore the hangover and stress that were making me sweat more than usual this Friday morning.

Back at the Office….

Things didn’t look good when we came around the corner of the block headed towards the office and I could see that my buddies trucks were all gone. The owners truck was still there, of course. Time to get back to pretending to work, so I headed back inside to my desk and tried to keep my head down. After a few minutes of tinkering with label templates I texted two of my friends to ask what the fuck had gone down. They both replied “head back to the hotel and we’ll tell you.” I couldn’t exactly ditch out right in front of the owner so I made a point of printing some labels on the printer in the other side of the office to scope things out. Our crew chief and owner were wrapping up their conversation and shortly after I got back to my desk they both left. As you can imagine, five minutes after that every person in the office was packing their bag to head home for the weekend. I was the second to last person to leave and hauled ass over to the hotel hoping to catch my buddies before they left. Seeing Motorboat and Chatterbox’s trucks in the parking lot with the doors open it was obvious that they were loading up everything from their hotel rooms. At the time I remember thinking that blows, everyone left on the crew will be either old, lame, and/or creepy. I parked, ran up the stairs, and walked into Motorboat’s room while he was packing up a suitcase. He looked at me and said, “sit down, let’s talk about last night,” as he stuck his head into the hall to yell at Chatterbox to come over from his room next door.

Here’s What Happened…Allegedly

So as you know, we all got pretty fucked up playing poker before heading to the beer joint. At 2am when they closed we headed back to the hotel with the intention of partying at the pool for a while. I went to my room to put on my swimsuit and passed out, despite my buddies coming upstairs to bang on my door. Motorboat, Chatterbox, Partyboy, and Racy packed a cooler with some beers and went down to the pool. Since it was the middle of summertime it was more like a hot tub than a pool and due to the ever-present wind, the bottom of the pool was usually covered with sand. Turn on some tunes, crack open some beers, and who gives a fuck it’s going to be a good time. Two other guys from another crew joined my friends and apparently the drinking stepped up to another level. Since the cooler was right next to the pool there was no reason to get out, everyone was just tossing their empties towards one end of the pool to float around. One can only imagine that after drinking that much, no one would want to put their head under the water as nobody was getting out to take a piss. All kinds of trouble could come from trying to haul their drunk asses out of the pool, walk across the wet cement, and into the bathroom with the slipperiest tile you can imagine, just to take a piss. We’ll just say it was a kiddy pool, naturally warmed.

After about an hour and a half of drinking mixed with a little bullshitting, some kids came outside the hotel and sat at one of the picnic tables on the patio by the pool. According to my buddies, these two teenagers started very loudly talking shit about how drunk everyone in the pool was. One can only imagine my buddies response, “fuck off you little shits!” Or something like that. Things started escalating from there as the teens tried to put on a tough guy act and pull the “why don’t you get out and make me!” routine. This is the point I think I would have gotten pretty pissed, so I’m glad that I hadn’t been there. Motorboat and Chatterbox got out of the pool and started walking towards the punks on the picnic table, who promptly ran off around the corner into the parking lot, talking shit the whole time. My buddies all got a good laugh and got back in the pool for one more beer. The kids apparently hadn’t gotten enough so they came back a few minutes later. That’s when shit got real. This time it was Racy that got out of the pool to scare the kids off, and those teens made it abundantly clear that they weren’t scared of a woman. In fact they were so fearless that they got up in her face and told her “fuck off, you skank whore!” Yeah. Racy almost slapped one of them, but decided it would be better to tell them it was past their bedtime and they should get the fuck back inside before they got their asses kicked. To everyone’s surprise, they actually did go inside flipping the bird as they went.

Two or three minutes later, as Racy was pulling beer cans out of the pool to throw in the trash (everyone had decided the party was about over at this point), a rather large and pissed off Mexican woman came barging out of the hotel. She marched right up to Racy, got in her face, poked her in the chest and demanded to know “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TELLING MY KIDS WHAT TO DO?!” I love parents that always stand up for their kids, especially when you think that at 3:30am your kids could somehow be innocently minding their own business outside the hotel. Racy tried to keep her cool for the first minute or two according to everyone that was watching from the pool, too dumbfounded to say anything. Then she lost it. “Your kids called me a skank whore, and what kind of parent are you letting them run around this late at night? They’re some disrespectful punks!” Momma Bear did not like her cubs being spoken about in that manner, so she retaliated with an ever classy line, “well by the looks of you being out here in that skimpy bathing suit with all these men, you ARE a skank whore!” For the second time in a half hour, Racy wanted to slap someone. She didn’t, likely stemming from the fact that this woman outweighed her by a good 100lbs. More screaming back and forth about who was the bitch whore ensued before the woman headed back inside the hotel. Everyone thought the altercation was over. It wasn’t.

Here Comes Papa Bear

As the last of the beer cans surfaced from the pool, Papa Bear mozied on out the door of the hotel towards the pool. He was still wearing his coveralls and boots, caked with mud as he obviously worked for one of the frack companies in the area. This guy was easily 6’4 and over 300lbs, so we’re talking about a big papa GRIZZLY bear. Chatterbox interjected into Motorboat’s telling of the story to add “seriously this guy could’ve ripped my arms off with his bare hands, I couldn’t even see his neck.” Everyone still in the pool stood still, blankly staring at him for a minute until he spoke, probably hoping he was like a T-Rex and couldn’t see them if they didn’t move. “Why the hell did my wife just wake me up and tell me that you people were talking shit to her out here?” Chatterbox tried to take the lead explaining the situation, but after about two minutes of the back and forth that started the whole situation, Papa Bear had heard enough. “Ya’ll just mind your own business and don’t let this happen again, because I won’t be nice if I have to come talk to you again, alright?” Sounded like a good deal, everyone thought they had gotten off the hook. Papa Bear went back inside. Everyone else finished fishing the beers from the pool and headed to their rooms to pass out, once the rush of adrenaline had worn off. None of them knew what had happened after they went to bed (they assumed something bad had gone down since we all had been called into work that morning) until they got called out by the owner and ordered to stay at the office while the rest of us left. Our company owner filled them in on how he became aware of the situation.

Apparently after her husband (Papa Bear) had come back to the room, Momma Bear decided that he hadn’t been tough enough on my buddies in the pool so she decided to handle it herself. She marched her fat ass down to the lobby of the hotel and woke up the manager who always slept on a cot in the back room of the front office. After she raised hell for a few minutes, the manager (who barely spoke English, I think he was from Pakistan and I couldn’t ever figure out how to pronounce his name) concluded that the only way to get this Mother Fracker out of his face was to say he would tell the owner of our company what had gone on at the pool. He intended to deal with this at a normal hour, not 4am, if he intended to do anything about it at all. That still wasn’t good enough, Momma Bear demanded that he call the owner of our company right then while she stood there watching. This Pakistani man gave in to her, looked up the phone number, and reluctantly dialed. He woke the owner of our company up, apologized profusely in his broken English, and tried to explain what the angry woman was yelling at him about. Needless to say, he was pissed. Whether he heard and relayed any of the truth about the situation, none of us can be sure, but I’m guessing Momma Bear wasn’t too worried about facts while she let her blood boil over. After he got off the phone with the hotel manager, the owner called our crew chief and told him to get everyone to the office in the morning. He got in his truck and started driving South to give us a piece of his mind.

In the “meeting” that my buddies had after we had all gotten dismissed from the office, two of them were notified that they would be relocated to another crew in a different town, starting Monday. That’s why they were packing everything from their hotel rooms when I got back from the office. The other two crew members got sternly reprimanded and told that their one strike was gone, but they weren’t getting fired. Attendance at the office was extraordinarily high the next few weeks because everyone was still on edge. The owner of our company made a random appearance once a week, and would sometimes show up to the office for an hour or so before leaving before most of our crew had even gotten out of bed. I was always glad to be present when he showed up and spent a lot more time looking busy at my desk. So once I heard everything that had gone down, I can’t help but agree with my crew chief that it was damn lucky I passed out that night. Not that it helped when the project closed down two months later, because all of us were out of work anyways.

[REPOST (July 2013)] The Beer Fueled Poker Game that Almost Got Me Fired (Part 2 of 3)

This post originally appeared on LandmanLife.com in July of 2013. It has been very slightly edited to correct some grammatical errors and add a few minor details that were left out of the original story. Obviously the names of those people involved have been changed for their own sake…but I’m pretty sure anyone that knows these guys won’t have a hard time figuring out who’s who.

If you have not read The Beer Fueled Poker Game that Almost Got Me Fired Part 1 yet, go ahead and get that out of the way before proceeding. Enjoy your weekend everybody, and remember…when you’re on a road trip to nowhere, there’s always time for one more beer…

As I got out of bed and tried to shake off the hungover/still drunk feeling from the night before I called a couple of my coworkers trying to figure out what had happened, but no one answered. Since I was already worried about [primary broker’s name] being in town and the disturbing call I had just received, I naturally assumed that the people I couldn’t get to answer their phones were already at the office, ready for the impending firing squad. Being the last person there when [primary broker] was in town just doesn’t sound like it would be good for my job security so I rushed through a quick shower, hoping it would clean off the smell of sweat. I hurriedly dried off, got dressed, and hauled ass to the office. Lucky for me the cops in town only cared about big rigs running the stoplight (yes, THE stoplight). As I blasted through that red light I waved at the police cruiser parked on the other side of the intersection.


Passing the gas station we always stopped at for beer after work each afternoon meant I was almost there, told you the hotel was close, right? A left turn, two stopsigns (that I rolled through) and a right turn later, I was in front of the office. It wasn’t a good sign that none of my coworkers who had gone out the night before were at the office, maybe I didn’t need to rush so much to get there after all? Nobody wants to be last, but it is also not a good idea to be the first person through the door…that guy always gets shot. Two of the older guys were outside smoking cigarettes and I tried to chat them up about why [primary broker] was coming in, they both kept it short just saying “I don’t know what you kids did last night, but he’s pissed as hell.” Not something you want to hear in the morning on a Friday, especially if you blacked out the night before. That statement also made it pretty clear that whatever the problem was, my buddies and possibly myself had been involved. Fuck.

The Office

Heading inside to our tiny office I first turned left into the “old farts” room to see who else was there. Our crew chief and two other older landmen were at their desks, and they all gave me a weird look as I walked in. At the time I don’t think the term “throwing shade” was a thing, but that’s exactly what they were doing. Trying to act normal is so much harder when you don’t know WHY you should feel guilty, but I did my best to pull it off. Obviously I didn’t want to straight up ask our crew chief what was going on if I was somehow implicated in the situation so I just kept to the normal bullshit. He was the definition of excellence, at least if you asked him. To most people he was a weird old liberal hippy man that wore slippers with socks, had a remarkably persistent dip spit stain running down his chin and through his scraggly white beard, wore women’s glasses, and had a pierced ear. To us, he was just an annoyingly aloof crew chief. He actually told me once that his instructions were, “intentionally vague.” I guess that means he was covering his ass by not actually telling me to do anything? Still not sure.

After a few minutes of that I left their side of the office and went to the “young guns” side where my desk was, sat down in my piece of shit rolling chair, and wondered how I was going to make myself look busy. I tidied up my desk, organized some papers and folders, and put a couple of miscellaneous documents into my file folder. Between the two sides of our office was a small hallway that had most of our office supplies, a seldom used microwave, and a small fridge that (usually) had beer in it. As I glanced at the fridge I had the fleeting thought that it might be a good idea to make sure there weren’t any beers in there when the owner was coming in. Then I imagined him walking in while I was pulling a handful of beers out of the fridge…and I decided that it wasn’t my problem because it wasn’t my beer, as far as I could remember.

Since I was the most recent hire onto the crew I got shafted on my desk location and had my back facing the door at the very front of the room. Looking busy was a pretty important part of my every day routine. I pulled up our runsheet form and figured I’d go ahead and type up some of the labels I would need next week. Then, all together, my coworker buddies strolled into the office looking guilty, tired, and hungover, but trying their best (as I did) to appear normal on this far from normal Friday at the office. You could cut the awkward tension with a slow motion Austin Powers judo chop. As they all tried to do the really forced small talk dance with our crew chief I resisted the temptation to turn around and ask what the fuck had happened last night.

via Gfycat

I waited for them to finish saying that awkward charade with the guys on the other side of the office, but once they came into our side and sat down I started (quietly) asking what had gone on the night before. The look on their faces got me even more concerned than the fact that they wouldn’t say anything about it. “Nothing, shuts. Don’t talk about it,” was the only response I could get. That was pretty irritating, but I understood they didn’t want to be spreading the word about whatever they had done…all I really wanted to know was what I might have been involved with…or if I was involved at all, really. They made it clear that it was a united front to stay silent…so I waited. After a couple of minutes of silence while the tension seemed to slowly build, the owner walked in. Let me correct myself, the owner STORMED in.

The Hurricane Makes Landfall

Let me set the stage by sharing some information about the owner of our company; he was about 5’4, weighed probably 110lbs, had an absurdly large mustache, always wore a (usually cowboy) hat to cover his nearly bald head, wore glasses, and always had on a button down shirt tucked in with jeans and nice boots. Not generally an intimidating persona, but he had a Napoleonic complex to rival the best of the small men out there and loved nothing more than to rip someone’s head off just to prove he had some small amount of power over them and an equally small penis. This morning he was obviously not in the mood for any bullshit, he slammed the door and very loudly stated he wanted everyone to be in (our side) of the office in 2 minutes. Well, at least I was finally about to find out what happened last night. It took about 30 seconds for everyone to assemble in our side of the office…since it was all of 20 feet away. I think that was the only time I had ever seen everyone on our crew at the office at the same time.

We were all sitting there anxiously waiting to see what the owner had to say. He walked in, dramatically paced around for a minute, then pointed his finger and wagged it around at everyone in the room. “You people do realize that MY name is the FIRST name of this COMPANY name, right? I’M FIRST FUCKING NAME!” I figured that was a rhetorical question so the little smartass voice inside me decided to stay quiet for once. “I understand my partner started this project here, but hasn’t done shit since then. Well that’s over, because I’m now taking control since you dumbasses are fucking up and MY name is on it. When I fucking tell ya’ll to do something, you don’t question me, you fucking do it! Understand!?” Crystal fucking clear, Mr. First Name. Please proceed. He did…

“Now that we have that over with, we can address the incident that happened last night. Let me assure each and every one of you that this will NOT happen again! I hope you all understand what I mean. If you guys think you can go around doing whatever the fuck you want, drinking beer and screwing off, and it won’t cost you this job, think again. If this ever happens again I’m not going to bother asking any questions, I’ll just tell anyone involved to get their walking papers and get the fuck out. I hope you understand how serious I am right now, if you want to test me go ahead, you won’t like the outcome. Now, I need to speak privately with Motorboat, Chatterbox, Partyboy, and Racy, unless anyone else was involved??? Everyone else is free to go back to work.” He stood there glowering at everyone until people started awkwardly shuffling out of the office.

As I got up and started walking outside, I glanced over my shoulder at Motorboat, Chatterbox, Partyboy, and Racy. They looked grim faced as they stayed huddled in the corner of the room. Well, I guess I dodged that bullet, but my landman buddies obviously didn’t. I still had no idea what had gone down the night before, but was glad to be off the hook at least. [Primary broker] huffed as he paced around the room waiting for everyone else to go outside. It didn’t look like it was going to be pretty…

End of Part 2

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[REPOST (July 2013)] The Beer Fueled Poker Game that Almost Got Me Fired (Part 1 of 3)

This post originally appeared on LandmanLife.com in July of 2013. It has been very slightly edited to correct some grammatical errors and add a few minor details that were left out of the original story.

I had the pleasure of living in a Best Western in South Texas for the better part of a year. Our company paid for the rooms 7 days a week so that they saved some money on the hotel tax after 30 days when it becomes an extended stay residency. That made things easier on us since we didn’t have to move all of our stuff out every weekend. It was especially convenient for me since my home was only an hour and a half drive away. The hotel was about a mile from the courthouse and a few blocks further from our office so we could literally leave our hotel room and be at either location in 5 minutes. In my room I kept a long collapsible table that functioned as a backup desk and was usually covered with documents, pizza boxes, bills, etc. I also had an Xbox that I left in my room (Madden games were a common way to settle petty disputes amongst crewmembers) and usually left my shotgun and gun bag in the closet.

Throw in enough clean clothes to last me a week or two, a fridge full of beer, and all my shower stuff and I could travel pretty light whenever I was heading to or from home. At the crew’s peak I think there were about 7 of us staying at the hotel, the rest of it was booked up by Chesapeake rig hands, frackers, and a couple of other landmen. The hotel always reeked like a skunk had run through the hallways because people smoked so much weed in their rooms and there were always people drinking beers out by the pool. Not a bad place to stay during the week if you ask me.

…it would be pretty hard for somebody to move this collection of RC helicopters in and out every week, one of our coworkers was clearly into things that fly

Every Thursday night we had a poker game in the conference room at the hotel. Some weeks there would be five players and the next week we could have 20, it all depended on how many landmen headed home Thursday after work. Quite a few times I stayed in town for the night just to go to the poker game, if I didn’t have plans it was worth hanging around for. People would usually bring their own coolers full of beer or just ice for the liquor drinkers. Everyone would have quite a few drinks during the game and it could go pretty late at times. It was a $20 buy in with the second but final buy in at the halfway point (sometimes people would show up late from work, etc) and the pot could get up to a few hundred bucks with the winner taking 2/3 and the runner up getting 1/3. $300 is worth staying in town for, especially if you get to be wasted while earning it.

Traditionally the winner would buy everyone a round at the beer joint after the poker game if it wasn’t already too late, but that wasn’t written in stone. On occasion the winner would be too intoxicated to go to the beer joint, which was my case (not surprisingly) the only time I ever won. This particular night was not one of those occasions. We started the party around 2 that afternoon when everyone left the office and headed a half hour out of town to a skeet range on a landowner’s property. Since we had leased him and fast tracked the drilling of the first couple wells on his ranch (in order to get an agreement to build a massive frac pond there) he always invited us out to drink, shoot, and grill out. Sounds good to me!

Normally we went out to the skeet range on Wednesdays but it had been rained out the night before, so we wanted to get things started early out there and then get back for the poker game. Anyone that wasn’t a designated driver would throw back a good number of beers because it was always hot as fuck out there, and it was easier to find cold beer than a cold water. Since I had LASIK surgery I have not been able to shoot skeet (it’s a mental block more than physical I think) and usually didn’t waste any time trying, I would rather hang around and drink beers with all the crusty locals that showed up. So that’s exactly what I did. I don’t know why but everyone in this area drank Bud Light (I prefer Miller Lite personally) so when in Rome…I cranked a couple Bud Lights there while I ate some BBQ, and then cranked a couple more while we rode back to the hotel.

Since I had been sweating the whole time we were out at the skeet range, I went up to my room and took a quick shower (while I drank a shower beer of course). By the time I got downstairs to the conference room for the poker game my eyes were pretty glazed over. I know it was obvious because people kept saying “holy shit man are you still here? Your eyes are glazed over…maybe you should give me all of your chips.” If it’s possible to be too drunk to play cards, I was. So maybe their advice wasn’t totally unfounded, but regardless I did not take them up on that offer. Fast forward a few hours (I can’t be more specific because I kept drinking beers as I watched my stack of chips dwindle down to nothing) and I was shitfaced. I lost, and decided that sometimes poker is better as a spectator sport.

One of the girls on our crew emerged victorious and won $200 or so from the pot. Most of the people that had lost earlier in the game had already gone to the beer joint, so we decided to meet them there. I probably shouldn’t have been out in public but peer pressure is a bitch, and when I slurringly said I would go as long as I didn’t have to drive (like anyone would have let me…), I was dragged outside and shoved into the backseat of a car. At some point right before, or maybe on the way there, I blacked out. I have a faint memory of talking with some people from Alabama at the beer joint, and might have had “just one more beer” a few times, as a good landman always should. I think I was drinking Budweiser because I remember somebody talking about my “porkchop in a can.” The place closed down a little before 2 so we all headed back to the hotel. I have a fuzzy recollection of about 5 too many people being crammed into the backseat…someone may have been sitting on my lap.

My memory fails me by this point, so I’m going to have to relay the events as I heard them the next day. I woke up at 7:45am with my phone ringing. It was one of my coworkers (who had not been with us the night before), which was unusual for a Friday morning…or a Friday at all…or any morning, for that matter. When I answered he said “[primary broker’s name] is on his way to the office right now, he wants everyone there by the time he arrives. Get there ASAP!.” This naturally triggered a “holy shit what the fuck is he coming in for?” response. My coworker said he didn’t know the reason but our boss was pissed and he ended the call. As I sat up in bed I realized I was extremely hungover, my head was pounding and I felt like my vision was even somewhat blurred. Then I realized that my jeans were bunched up around my ankles (I still had on my boxers), and my boots were half off but still stuck in the legs of my jeans, hanging off the end of the bed. What a way to pass out, let me tell you. My swimsuit was laying next to me on the bed, dry. I thought that was strange, but my buddies filled me in later that afternoon. (End of Part 1)

Continue on to Part 2

[REPOST (December 2014)] The Future of Landmen With Lowering Oil Prices

This is a [REPOST] of a story that originally appeared on LandmanLife.com on December 30th, 2014. I have not done any editing to the original content…

This seems like a great time to review the landman business in 2014 since the year is coming to an end. People talk about the “ups and downs” of the oil business, but a lot of you are too young to really know what the bottom is like. If you still have a job right now, make sure to do everything in your power to keep it, because the bottom isn’t here yet. We started 2014 with oil prices hovering around $105 a barrel. As Brad Pitt’s character says in the movie Inglorious Bastards, “business is a booming.” I had spent the year working for a small company of about 9 people, 7 of them being landmen. The biggest benefit of working for such a small company was job security. Our broker had worked a deal with a small producer to have our company in essence function as their land department. We’ll call that small producer “Enerplay.” Anyways, Enerplay kept at least 5 of our landmen busy at all times, and we usually had 2 landmen working on small projects for other clients. I spent half of the year working on prospects for Enerplay and the other half working on a small project for another client, let’s call them O.N.E. which stands for Obviously Not Experienced.

Continue reading “[REPOST (December 2014)] The Future of Landmen With Lowering Oil Prices”