When A Blue Collar Worker Becomes A Supervisor In Dickinson, North Dakota

The title of this blog post also could have been “When A Red Neck Becomes A Supervisor In Dickinson, North Dakota. ” There are other words besides “Blue Collar Worker” or “Red Neck”, that could have been used.

I started a new job in Dickinson five weeks ago, and I would not have lasted a day, had it not been for the fact that my co-worker/supervisor was my age, and he was from the South like me.  He has many years of work experience in the oil field, and he has worked with several oil companies in this area.

My co-worker/supervisor wanted and intended that I would drive and operate the crane truck,that I would do the physical work, and that he would do the paperwork.  There is a lot of oil company paper work.   He wanted to sit in the air-conditioning in his crew truck doing paperwork, while I would do the physical work.  This is not normally how a two-man oil field crew would operate, especially if the paperwork does not take all day.

The paper work does not take all day, so my supervisor/co-worker would leave the job site location to go and do other things.  Basically, he would head for home at 2:30 p.m.  Hey, that’s what supervisors do, isn’t it?  Even though my co-worker/supervisor was supposed to be helping me do the actual work, in his mind, since he was in charge, he was a manager, and managers can go home when they want, can’t they?

Because the paperwork does not take all day, and my co-worker/supervisor had assigned himself the paperwork only, my co-worker/supervisor began texting me on most mornings, “Got to take care of some things, go ahead and start without me.”  He wouldn’t arrive on location until about 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m., he would sit in the truck and do paperwork for three to four hours, and then he would leave to go home at 2:30 p.m.

The oil company that we are doing the work for, has all kinds of supervisory oversight on what is going on at their locations, safety supervisors, security & operations supervisors, maintenance supervisors, automation/controls supervisors, production supervisors, and so on.  For the past four weeks, all of the oil company personnel have seen just one person doing the work, and there are supposed to be two of us doing the work.

There are supposed to be two of us, because the oil company is paying for a two-man crew, and it takes two people to do the work, especially for safety reasons.  There is not supposed to be just one person on these remote locations, doing this type of work.

I didn’t complain because I wanted to keep my job, I wanted to get paid, no one was bothering me, and I was being left alone all day to do the work.  I didn’t think it was right for my co-worker/supervisor to show up at 10:00 a.m., stay in his truck the whole time with the air-conditioning on, listening to the radio, snacking and drinking, while doing the paperwork, and then leaving to go home at 2:30 p.m.  On many days at 2:30 p.m., I was just about to the point of heat stroke.

I am sure that all of the different personnel at this oil company have mentioned and discussed that I am there by myself doing the work, that this is not supposed to be like this, not what they paid for, and not safe.  It has been mentioned to my co-worker/supervisor by the oil company manager a couple of times recently that he is supposed to be there with me.

This morning I waited for my co-worker/supervisor to show up at the oil company yard at 7:00 a.m.  I received a garbled text message from my co-worker/supervisor that he had some business to attend to this morning, without giving me any work instructions.  I texted him back that I would go to the truck stop to get fuel in the crane truck.  He knows that I would have to use my own money, he has the company fuel card.  I wanted to act like we were starting work, I didn’t want the oil company to know that my co-worker/supervisor was no where around, and that I didn’t have any work instructions.

I waited at the truck stop after fueling the crane truck, to hear back from my co-worker/supervisor, but I didn’t hear back, and he didn’t answer his phone, it was now 8:00 a.m.  I drove for one hour to the area that I thought we were supposed to be working in, and I sent a text message to my co-worker/supervisor telling him where I was, and asking for the site location name, it was now 9:00 a.m.

At 10:00 a.m., I was trying to decide whether or not to call the oil company to ask them what site I was supposed to be working on.  This would lead to them asking me where my supervisor/co-worker was, which I didn’t want to explain, and they wouldn’t like it.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m., my co-worker/supervisor called, and he was very angry about all of the missed calls he had, blaming me, but I only called him twice.  He was acting like everybody was causing him problems and bothering him.  He told me what site location to meet him at.  It took me about twenty minutes to get to that site location, and I started work.

The oil company manager called me to ask me what was going on.  In order to call me, I believe that the oil company manager probably had to call the company that I work for to get it, which probably involved him explaining why he had to call me, he could not reach my co-worker/supervisor.  The oil company manager told me to have my co-worker/supervisor call him when he arrived at the site location where I was working.

At about 12 noon, my co-worker/supervisor called and asked me if I had found the site location.  I told him that I had found it, and that I had completed the work.  He told me that he would meet me at the next location.  I went to the next site location and I completed that work.  My co-worker/supervisor called me and he wanted me to go back to my previous location to get some information which would allow him to complete the inspection paperwork.

I informed my co-worker/supervisor to not turn in the completed inspection paperwork without having been on that site location, because the oil company manager knows that he has not been on that location.  At this point, my co-worker/supervisor said that he was not going to drive to work, it was too late in the day now.

My co-worker/supervisor was supposed to be working right along with me, all day, every day.  He began to believe that since he was in charge of he work, that makes him a manager, he was the manager of me.  He began to believe that since he was a manager, he could arrive at the work location at 10:00 a.m., and leave to go home at 2:30 p.m., a 4-1/2 hour work day, not leaving the air-conditioning of his truck.  Today, he planned on turning in a time sheet for 12 hours, just like every day, and not even come to work at all.

It would have been easier for me, if my co-worker/supervisor would have sent one text message to me this morning, stating that he would not be coming to work today, and letting me know what work site locations I had to go to.  However, because he knows that he is not really a manager, that he is an hourly oil field worker, that is supposed to be there working with me at each location, that he would have to try to act like he was going to meet me at each location throughout the day, act like he was right there the whole time, to turn in a time sheet for twelve hours today.

Today, it may have come to the point that the oil company that we are performing work for, has had enough.  This will be especially true if my co-worker/supervisor tries to turn in inspection check sheets, when the oil company knows that he was never on those site locations today.  With my co-worker/supervisor having gotten into the habit of 4-1/2 hour work days, the oil company would reasonably believe that they are not getting what they paid for, that they are being short-changed.  This work for the oil company will likely come to a halt soon, over dissatisfaction with work performance, and I will probably be looking for another job.

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