Being a soldier is in Christopher Suitt’s blood. Born into a long line of veterans, Suitt’s family has been in the U.S. military for close to 90 consecutive years. His grandfather served, his uncles served, and his cousins continue to serve.
In this Q&A, Suitt talks about why the rigs turned out to be a perfect fit for his military background.
Q: Why is a career on a drilling rig a good fit for you?
Honestly, the whole military thing is a different lifestyle. Once you’ve been in the military, it’s hard to flip the switch and start a regular office job. Because the culture between the rigs and the military is similar in a lot of ways, I haven’t had to flip the switch that far.
The schedule also makes it easier for me. Because I’m in the Army Reserve right now (meaning I’m not on active duty) I have to meet with my unit for a week each month to do PT (physical training) and perform my duties as a chemical noncommissioned officer (NCO).
Q: In what ways are the cultures similar between the rigs and military?
Soldiers and roughnecks are proud of the work they do. Both groups aren’t afraid of hard work and they look forward to getting their hands dirty.
They both stand by their brothers, and have a ‘day’s not done ‘til the work is finished’ kind of attitude.
Q: What have you learned in the military that’s helped you on the rigs?
There are so many things that overlap. In the military, we’re taught to look out for each other, work together and work safe. All of these are instrumental on a drilling rig. We’re also been taught to react quickly in high stress situations and manage our time effectively.
Discipline is another big one. When you’re making good money in the oil patch and you’re in the middle of nowhere with nothing to spend it on, it’s awfully tempting to spend it the first second you can. Because of the self-discipline I’ve been taught in the military, I keep close reigns on my spending.
Q: What do you enjoy about working as a Motorhand?
I like that there’s always something new to work on. I really enjoy constantly learning new things and am a big fan of problem solving, which comes in handy in both my careers. On the rig, I love the responsibility of figuring out a problem and being the solution to that problem. I actually didn’t come from a mechanical background, so it’s been really rewarding to pick up on things with rig motors over time without even noticing it.
Q: What surprised you most about working on the rigs?
You’re going to laugh, but I had no idea cleaning the rig would be so hard. I remember watching guys out tripping pipe while I cleaned and I couldn’t believe how hard the work was. I also didn’t expect to be as tight with the guys as I am. It’s not at all like an office job where you go in and do your work and only speak to your co-workers while you’re at the office. On the rig, we know what’s happening with everyone all the time. It’s the same way in the army – you do everything together.
I wasn’t expecting this kind of comradery, but I’m really happy it’s that way. Much like the military, you really are part of a global family in the oilfield.
Q: What surprised you most about the military?
Given my upbringing, I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for when I enlisted. Golly, I guess the thing that surprised me most about the army was how good the food was. Everyone said the food was dry, but honestly, when you’ve been working hard and you’re hungry, anything tastes amazing. I may make a mean bowl of cereal here on Rig 446, but I’d prefer the army’s cooking any day of the week.
Q: What are you doing to prepare for your first overseas tour of duty?
I’ve been busy getting my mind right. Aside from physical training, I already have my stuff all packed up in storage, my bills have been paid in advance, and everything is looked after on the home front. Going into deployment with a clear mind is so important. It’s like when you’re at the rig. You can’t have something else on your mind or someone is going to get hurt.
Land of the free and home of the brave
When we asked Suitt what he thought of his upcoming tour, the soldier said the following with pride.
“I’m not scared – this is what I’ve been preparing for my whole life. It’s my turn to go in and do my part,” Suitt summarized. “This is simply another chapter in my life.”
Help us wish Suitt and the rest of his unit safe travels. We’re looking forward to having him back in Trinidad teal in no time at all.