Took a quick trip to Odessa-Midland Texas this week to visit some customers. Steve and I flew out of Love Field in Dallas. Fortunately I suffered minimal body groping by the TSA agents after just two barefoot body scans while making the “I surrender!” gesture. My laptop was suspected of being a bomb and searched only twice and my headphones were stolen only once. I managed to smuggle toothpaste out there, but sadly, on the return trip, my 5 oz. tube posed a severe threat and had to be properly disposed of in a nearby bomb proof garbage bag. …that reminds me… my teeth feel a bit fuzzy… I need to get some more toothpaste… anyway… With shoes back on I still felt naked without my knife which I carry always except on flights thanks to popular myths about box cutters and hijackers. The nervousness around the security area was almost palpable… even completely innocent people feel as if they’ve done something wrong when treated like criminals. Nearby a smiling burly man in blue paced energetically, swinging arms, surveying the lines sheeple of which I was a part… Bahhh. Every now and then he enjoyed exerting a gentle show of power by telling people just exactly where to stand to straighten up the lines. We managed to get seats on the overbooked Southwest flight – crowded with men, like us, having some profession in the oilfield. The rental car companies were all overbooked as well but after a few hours wait we managed to secure a white turbocharged F-150.
On the ground in Odessa-Midland the power of the oil and gas industry is apparent everywhere. The male to female ratio is likely 4:1 and the truck to car ratio is likely 100:1. With McDonald’s workers making $15/hr and code welders making $70/hr there is a lot of money to be made – and a lot of money to be spent. A nice two bedroom apartment can easily run $3500/month. From the air, the flat brown landscape is broken into a tight grid of well sites like so many digital fleas on a mangy brindle dog sucking dry the earth.
It was a very productive trip for us. We met with four customers and sized up a cooler for one of them on the spot resulting in an order the next day. We took several purchasing guys from one of our biggest customers out for a Sushi lunch. Then they invited us out for a few beers and dinner at the brand new Pork and Cork bar and grill. It was an enjoyable time and a good trip over all. It definitely strengthened our business relationships as well as my hatred for the Federal government’s version of “security”.