I learned how to work drill rigs in McCook, Illinois. I was a Derrick man that worked atop a 30 ft. mast. My job was pulling drill steel and racking it. Of Course, I did a lot of things on the drill rig. I was a deck hand using tongs to connect drill steel, general "go-fer", mud man and water man to keep the hughes tool bit lubricated, clean up and greaser, coffee getter, you name it.
I did about 2 years on water rigs in the Chicagoland area, then ended up in Las Vegas, after I went through my divorce. After drinking myself into oblivion for a couple of months, I moved to San Diego and got my body in shape again by running, surfing, and pumping iron. I ended up in West Texas in a wild cat drilling trailer. A big push was on for oil back in '79 and they were hiring "worms". Worms are guys with some limited drill rig experience. I told them that I had worked 100 ft. derricks, (which was true), but never oil field rigs. I couldn't believe it when they hired this Chicago boy.
The pusher in the trailer said I had three of the four qualifications that he was looking for...big assed arms, the love of drinking, experience...but I wasn't from Texas...They like their own boys. I "wormed" out there for a season, and pretty much was accepted by the crew, after I got drunk every night and won a few bar fights. These men were smart in a lot of ways. In other ways, they were "dumb as a box of rocks". Half of 'em would end up in jail, or would start missing work, or just light out for new horizons. Most of 'em were better "hands" than me.
I'm glad I did the work. It was dangerous, exciting, and satisfying. It payed well, and was a good life for a single guy. I surely do NOT recommend this kinda' work to a married guy. Drillin' and marriage do not mix. Once you become a driller, you get hooked for life. It gets in your blood, kinda' like being in the tavern every night addicts a guy. You're pretty much through by the time you hit your forties, and the arthritis sets in and your reflexes start going. It's a young man's game.