The migrant worker

This post is part of a series exploring the workers I’ve met who are on the front lines of the fracing boom in Pennsylvania. You can find links to the other articles on the overview page.

Jason is in his early 20s and very skinny. His smile betrays his chipped and blackened front tooth and he speaks with a strong Southern drawl. That’s because he’s not from Pennsylvania. He’s from Texas…Jasper, specifically. A place where, to quote a very blunt Jason:

they kill niggers by dragging them behind trucks.

He is referring to this incident.

He started in the oil and gas industry through his family. Both his father and brother work in some capacity for a related company.

Jason is quite the story teller. He was once electrocuted while trying to fix his electric meter, and would have died had his friend not  knocked him away with a stick. He allegedly drove a car with a broken accelerator that would reach speeds of 100 mph unless he was actively braking for 2 months before getting it fixed. Jason also, allegedly, worked on jobs without appropriate safety equipment or monitoring.

But the reason Jason is the migrant worker is, ironically, his family. A father of 2 daughters, aged 1 and 2, he recently separated from his wife of 3 months after she revealed that she had cheated on him prior to their wedding. He readily volunteered this story without the slightest hint of embarrassment, as he did with his countless others.

And so, he told his wife to take the kids and move out while he went to lay pipelines. He first went to Wyoming to work on a job there, but by the time he arrived, the job was over. So he waited around in Wyoming without a job until he learned about this opportunity in Pennsylvania.

The job is to last 6 months, which is a relatively long period of stability for him, but after the job ends he doesn’t know what he’ll do. Jason hopes to learn of another opportunity somewhere else, but there is nothing in the works. As for his wife and 2 daughters in Texas, he hopes to visit them when he can, but he doesn’t seem too eager to return soon.

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