The Indian Joe Story - Jim Segal

I've just come across a list of 250 jobs, ranked from best to absolute worst. President of the U. S. came in at 229, but the very worst job at #250, was being a roustabout. And that reminds me (everything these days reminds me) of another "Anton story."

For you Yankees up North, roustabouts are manual laborers who work the "oil patch." It's a dirty, dangerous, difficult job, and in the summer of '88 our Harvard-bounding son became a roustabout: the world's worst job! (I attach a recent resume, partly to suggest that Anton may have been a tad overqualified, and partly to demonstrate that Anton cared not a damn for such elitist thinking.)

In any event, off to the oil patch went Anton, to meet up with a crew headed by "Indian Joe," a renegade half breed who headed a crew of white oil trash, and who ruled over them with an iron hand - literally. The crew warned Anton that Indian Joe had done hard time in Huntsville and on a different occasion, he'd killed an oil hand in Lubbock. Show Anton the knife, Joe, they chorused.

Anton was pretty cool, even at 18, and he wasn't sure if he was being hazed, but Indian Joe did look dangerous enough maybe to be the real thing. And then there was the knife… Anyhow, the crew loved trying to spook Anton with Indian Joe tales, but as you probably have guessed by now, Anton and Indian Joe hit it off real well, and in just about the time it takes to say Hiyo Silver, Away!, they became friends!

Now, Anton had not packed a lunch that first day (nor brought a workman's lunchbox), and when Indian Joe asked why not, Anton sort of muttered some lame excuse. You're lying to me, boy, said Indian Joe. You're too damn poor to buy lunch, aintcha? Anton sort of shrugged yes and Indian Joe and the others shared their bologna and cheese and chips, and when the day was over, they bought him a 6-pack out of sheer good will, a gift from some hardened roustabouts to their likable new brother.

When Anton returned that evening to his suburban country estate (!) - making absolutely certain he wasn't being followed - he was unrecognizable: Black from mud and oil and slime. Blistered on face and lips from sun, and on the hands from the hard work. He was so exhausted that the next day he slept all day (snoring, with eyes wide open, as many of you who know, know).

But the following day, he girded up (with lunch bucket), drove back to the rig and found…that the well had been capped, and his fellow roustabouts, Indian Joe and all, had simply moved on. At least that was always Anton's story.

Jim Segal