“The sweatdrops on the brow of honest toil are more precious than the jewels of a ducal coronet, and the pen of a ready writer, the tools of the artisan, and the axe of the backwoodsman, are weapons of a nobler chivalry than ever couched the lance or wielded the sword.” – Rev. George Washington Bethune, 1839
Many modern scholars exhibit a proclivity to chastise the “myth” of the American Dream. Hard, honest work, self-sufficiency, and individualism have become objects of scorn since Upton Sinclair produced his turn-of-the-century commentary on the struggles of the immigrant in “The Jungle.” At this point, I might be inclined to agree. But the monotonous employment in the Alaskan oilfields, if one is careful to notice, provides the laborer a chance that few Americans, or disposable wage-earners in general, get to experience: the sublime surroundings of the Alaskan wilderness, and an exciting and dangerous chance to earn a hefty paycheck. Since I was rehired in August, I have done very little besides work, and there seems to be no evidence of respite. Three weeks on, not quite two weeks off, three more on, and only one off. But the money continues to roll, so my back continues to ache. This particular hitch, however, I have been lucky enough to work in Cook Inlet on a rather small production platform. Three weeks worth of waking to the sight of the Alaskan Range and three of the largest volcanoes in the world seems enough to sustain the mind as the body breaks under a heavy load. But the work is honorable, and though I am but a squire in this chivalrous endeavor, hope remains that at long last I become manifestly a noble member of this body, the Knights of the Rotary Table (oilfield joke).
No man is an Island, unlike the platform
Iliamna, 10,000 feet of sulfur-belching goodness
Pretty exciting, huh?
Sunset over Mt. Redoubt