The Fastest Roughneck

His name is Becky. I mean Becki.

“See how fast I did that, Peter?” was one of the first things he ever said to me. Then settling down to a serious mood, he continued, “You gotta be fast out here, Peter.”

I could see in his eyes that he cared. That he took extra time to teach me (he’d probably say being fast creates extra time) made me care. Effort is contagious.

“People are always watching out here, Peter. Anytime something needs to be done you gotta do it as fast as you can. I’m twenty-one and going to be a driller soon. It’s ’cause I’m so fast.” Then he would smile and say, “I just love saying your name, Peter.”

Becki should’ve been named a word that means “potential” or maybe “talent.” He was raw potential. His memory was uncanny; his attitude, without burden. He loved his mom and his daughter. And he could swing a sledge hammer as fast as any man. He was not a large man, which meant you had to look close to see that he was all heart.

One of this lightening bolt’s favorite jokes was: “After I’m done I always tell her, ‘I don’t know what the problem is. I mean we started at the same time’.” Like I said, he was fast.

A member of a generation struggling to find their purpose in life, Becki knows he was born for the oil fields. I don’t think Becki’s vocabulary bank accepted struggle currency. Carrying on the binary communication tradition began by previous roughnecks, Becki only recognized the concepts “done” and “one more second.”

In the end, a man like Becki hails from a long tradition of makers. Cormac McCarthy would say these men carry the fire. I say they are the ones who attract our attention, deserve our admiration, and win our affection. Becki just does it faster.



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