To bring you up-to-date… On Wednesday, Tim, Randy, and I flew from Houston to New Orleans to give a Thursday seminar for Louisiana field personnel. A golf outing was scheduled Friday morning followed (noonish) by a customer appreciation crawfish boil in the Louisiana Superdome. Thousands were anticipated. |
The three of us shared the presentation figuring different voices and different styles made the material more interesting and entertaining. In addition, we incorporated a lot of humor and interaction with our audience—oil patch guys are a rowdy bunch anyway. Keeping with tradition, beer was brought in at five for the last hour.
Afterwards we had dinner with sales executives Bryan and Dave; and the area managers from the four Louisiana offices. Mike, the Morgan City manager had a van full of company golf shirts for the Friday morning golfers; and Lance, the Lafayette manager said he’d lined-up four golf carts to run back-and-forth distributing beer and soft drinks among the foursomes.
“Hope you-all got some good beer cart jockeys,” said Dave with a sideways looks.
Lance smiled and winked. “Two lovely ladies from a local gentlemen’s club on each cart. Hobie liked ‘em.” Hobie was de facto vice president of golf. He spent most of his time flying around in the corporate jet taking customers on golf outings and big game hunting safaris.
Bryan nodded approvingly, and looked at the three of us—the seminar presenters. “You guys joinin’ us?”
I said, “No, we’re meeting with some drilling and well-completion consultants at the office until noon, but we’ll see you at the Superdome.”
“You guys don’ know whatcher missin’,” Bryan said through a big grin.
He was wrong. I knew exactly what I’d be missing—and glad of it. Were you familiar with oil field trash antics you’d agree. “We’ll see you at the dome.”
Dave yelled out, “Whoo-ee! We’re gonna eat us some mudbugs!”
Friday morning Tim, Randy, and I met with several executives and outside consultants until time to march across the street for the crawfish boil. Everything was normal until a field engineer from Houma, a guy we called Mean Gene, who wasn’t a golfer, and therefore an office “prisoner”, became tired of waiting. It was about eleven fifteen. About every ten minutes we’d hear a loud shout declaring, “I need a f**kin’ beer!”
We tried our best to ignore Mean Gene whose scruffy appearance looked out of place in our palatial New Orleans office setting not withstanding his loud outbursts. Our guests, being from the industry, were used to oil patch field personnel so instead of being embarrassed, we ignored him. Just before noon, we escorted the consultants to the lobby, shook hands, and prepared to head for the Superdome. Mean Gene appeared before the last hand shake was cold.
“’Bout damn time,” he growled. “Now let’s go get some damn beers!”
Inside the dome rowboat after rowboat was filled to the brim with crawfish, sausage, corn, and potatoes. Just as many boats contained iced beer. Large tables were covered with butcher paper for standing only. There were also large trays to collect uneaten crawfish parts—one pulls the mud bugs apart, throws the heads away and consumes the tail. Bibs are required. Diners attack the pile like voracious termites attack rotted wood; things are flying everywhere. I’ve attended quite a few crawfish boils, and it’s still a mystery why the participants think they’re in some kind of race. Deep swigs of beer are part of the process.
After massive consumption of beer and crustaceans, cleaning with wet naps and thorough washing in the restrooms returns one to an almost normal state. Due to liberal use of cayenne pepper in the cooking process, no matter how meticulously one scours, the areas beneath fingernails and corners of the mouth burn for hours afterward.
Most company personnel wore the same golf shirts as those who participated in the golf outing. After we’d eaten our fill, Mean Gene and fourteen other salesmen and field engineers approached us. They enjoyed our raucous Thursday presentation, and thought we’d be fun to hang out with.
“C’mon you guys,” said Mean Gene, “We’re going to the Cat’s Meow.” It was about three o’clock.
“How come?” I asked.
“We’re singin' karaoke. It’s just a short walk.”
And so, eighteen of us traipsed down Bourbon Street; fifteen in golf shirts and three in coats and ties. The place was about half full, and singing (?) was in progress. Three young ladies were on stage belting out a pitchy version of "Stand by Your Man", and a group stood in the wings ready for next turn. Small, round tables suitable for six standing people were available. We occupied three. I ordered beer for those at my table, and in a flash eighteen cold beers plopped down in front of us.
I looked at the waitress. “Uh, I only ordered six.”
She smiled sweetly and said, “I know you did, darlin’, but until four o’clock we got a three for one special.”
As soon as the others heard that, they also ordered a round, and shortly we had 108 bottles of beer crowded on our little table.
“Guys, we’re not gonna drink all that,” whined Tim.
“Oh yeah?” said Mean Gene. “We’re sure gonna give it a good try.”
“’Sides,” said Dave, “Quite a few of the others are on their way here to help us out.”
I looked at the other two tables. They followed suit. Oh well, when in Rome…
Almost immediately some of our group queued up for the karaoke machine, fighting among themselves and other patrons/singers for a place in line. As you can imagine, the singing was gosh awful and loud. The guys attempted to hog the mike, which led to some minor scuffles with other “artists”. Among our group—originally eighteen, which had swelled to about forty—Tim, Randy, and I were the only ones without the uniform of the day, namely the snazzy golf shirts.
I elbowed Tim. “You know what all those golf shirts remind me of?”
“Prisoners. They may as well be wearing those striped pajamas you see in cartoons. I’m a bouncer, I’m happy for the shirts. Helps keep track of potential troublemakers.”
“They’re not the only loudmouths.”
“No, but they’re the loudest and most profane.”
“Dave’ll keep ‘em in line.” (wink)
“You kidding?” exclaimed Randy. “He’s one of the worst.”
Just then Dave appeared and clapped me on the back. “Hell, ain’t you-all gonna get up there and sing?” He looked back and forth at all three of us. “Don’t tell me yore chicken shit?” He started cackling and hooting. One of the bouncers eyed him.
“Nah. Our throats are a little sore from all the talking we had to do yesterday.”
“Shee-it!” His eyes fogged temporarily like he thought of something important. “Hey, c’mon over here to the bar with me. I need to ask you-all about handlin’ somethin’ that went wrong with a customer—you know, how we can recover from a bad situation that was our fault.”
I followed him over to the bar. With both took our beers and sat down on stools. “Well, the first thing is take the emotion out of the situation.” I said. “You apologize.”
“People are vindictive and forgiving at the same time, and usually if you ask for forgiveness—and they sense you really mean it—they’ll grant it.”
“Okay, then you—“
“Whoo-ee, mama! Lookee at the rack on this here darlin’!” Dave’s attention span had gone south as he noticed two attractive young ladies sitting on barstools next to us. “Can I buy you fine ladies a drink?” Big, toothy grin; all charm.
The two ladies giggled. “Why shore thang, handsome,” said one of them. They were wearing shorts and halter tops with boobs spilling out.
“What’ll it be? No, lemme guess. How ‘bout Jack Daniels with Shiner Bock back?”
“We’ll have white wine spritzers,” cooed the other “lady”.
“WHAT!? White wine spritzers? You gotta be shittin’ me! What the hell are you, lesbians? Git the hell outa here! Bartender! Run these ol’ gals off’n these stools, and bring me two real women!”
The girls had a look of open-mouthed surprise, obviously used to being courted and not the butt of some smart aleck. A bouncer appeared. “Is there trouble here?”
“I’ve got him,” I said and grabbed Dave’s arm to lead him back to our table.
He laughed loudly all the way. “Ah’ll be back to give you ladies a break later!” he yelled, and then to me, “You-all just saved that interferin’ shithead a good ass whoopin’!” At the table he and several other “prisoners” all shared a laugh over the “good one” he pulled on the girls.
A field engineer named Rick split a gut so badly that his bladder almost lost control. He ran for the restroom in the back. The next time any of us saw Rick he was flying out the front door from being tossed into the street by one of the bouncers.
“Well, Ricky’s gone for the day,” laughed Dave.
“What happened?” I surmised his dismissal was well-earned.
“Dumb sumbitch took a leak in the ladies’ restroom. Scared the shit outa some of the local princesses, ‘specially when Rick ask them to help him get his big tool—that’s what he calls it—back in his pants. Gal said she never puts ‘em back, just takes ‘em out. Second gal ratted him out, and he got tossed.”
The singing from the stage continued to deteriorate, but patrons treated performers like grand opera stars. Four of our group decided it was their turn and jumped the line just as four US Navy sailors emerged from the wings. A loud, vociferous argument ensued about whose turn it was at the mike. Words turned into a shoving match complete with graphic and colorful profanity. Several bouncers dismissed both groups from the stage in favor of the two ladies that were seated next to Dave and me at the bar.
Chuck, a marketing manager from Houston and one of the golfers, motioned me over to his table, which was vacant, the others waiting their turn on stage. There were maybe two dozen empty beer bottles sitting there. “You mind talking a little business,” he said—countenance and voice were deadly serious.
“Sure,” I replied. Chuck was normally light-hearted. He and I had taken a rollicking trip around the world a few years before. I wondered why he was so somber.
He gazed at the floor for a moment then looked me in the eye. It seemed like he was having trouble framing whatever thoughts he wanted to voice. He tilted his head slightly then grinned, “We don’t need these!” and swept the beer bottles unto the floor. They bounced and clattered startling those around us, but not one broke. Chuck started laughing loudly, pleased with himself for drawing me in. A bouncer closed in… Number two was out the door.
Meanwhile, a field engineer took a swing at a sailor. It missed, but caused both groups to gather for engagement. Dave got between the original two would-be combatants, and held them apart with extended arms. In a moment of sober clarity he looked directly at me and said, “Ah knew these shirts were a bad idea.”
In an instant the bouncers were all over them, and threw anyone wearing our company golf shirt out of the Cat’s Meow. Randy, Tim, and I watched with fascination as one after another was physically hurled out the front door, several rolling to the curb. Most were laughing like inebriated hyenas.
We decided to finish our last beer, and go to dinner, thankful that the bouncers didn’t connect us with the others. Our table was on a window, which had been fully opened.
From the sidewalk outside—only six feet from us I heard: “Hey, guys, how ya doin”?” It was Ron, area manager from Houma. He’d missed the karaoke session. Ron was a non-drinker out for a stroll looking for companions. “Wanna have dinner?”
“Sure. Let’s us finish our beers and we’ll be right out.” We tipped our bottles to drain the last few ounces.
“That’s all right. I’ll come in and join you,” said Ron and he headed through the front door. Unfortunately, Ron was wearing the company golf shirt.
Do I have to tell you how that ended?
Copyright 2011 by Gene Myers.
Author of AFTER HOURS and SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE. Get ‘em while they’re hot from www.amazon.com and Amazon Kindle.
Related Articles -
New Orleans, crawfish boil, oil patch guys, golf, beer, Superdome, Bourbon Street, Cat's Meow, karaoke,