Cool Boss (Part 1)

I really enjoyed working for engineering managers who had a good sense of humor, some awareness of pop culture, and were comfortable in their own skin. Paul was one of my favorites.

Thursday morning, main conference room, the daily operations meeting open to all of the regional office staff. A good opportunity to hear the latest information on drilling activities, recompletions, and other relevant business happening in the company. The room was full and a few of the staff had to stand in the doorway.

A proposed well location stimulated a brief discussion about the nature and quantity of the hydrocarbons in place, specifically how much of the shale gas in the reservoir was free, and how much was adsorbed in the rock. After a couple of the geologists had their say, Paul, the regional vice-president, thought it was time to move on.

“Guys, I will choose…” he paused, “free gas.” He had a small smile as he looked around the room.

He spotted Kyle and me sitting next to each other against the opposite wall, and we grinned back at him. No one else seemed to recognize what he had just done, so Paul went on to the next operations report.

After the meeting, Kyle and I waited behind. Paul came up and gave us a grin. “Did you like that?”

“That was great!” I said. We complimented him on the excellent use of Rush lyrics to make his point. He had borrowed a line from the song “Freewill”, changing it from “I will choose freewill” to “I will choose free gas.”

“I thought you two would like that.” Paul knew that Kyle and I liked Rush, and he was also a fan.

“Ok, but next week I expect you to work a little Jethro Tull into the discussion,” I said. I don’t know why Jethro Tull popped into my head, probably some kind of loose association with Rush from the music I liked in high school and college. Paul laughed and left the room.

A week later, same meeting. A well recompletion report with some operational challenges. At the end of the discussion, Paul leaned forward and said “Guys, I’m just trying to avoid a bungle in the jungle.” Paul looked at Kyle and me with a big smile, and we cracked up. Every one else in the room wondered what was so funny.

Paul was very cool, it was a pleasure working for him.

(Adapted from the forthcoming professional memoir “Plugged & Abandoned”)