Taking a leap of faith for family
After 21 years working as a car mechanic in his hometown of Saint Phillips, Newfoundland, Glenn Heffernan called it quits. A dedicated husband and father of three, Glenn knew it was time for a career that would provide the life he always wanted for his family.
“Like any dad, I wanted to give them what they deserved,” said Glenn.
He knew from friends in the oil and gas industry that working on the rigs could provide the financial freedom he was looking for.
“When I was about to leave for my first hitch in Alberta, I told my wife I’d do it for five years, maximum,” Glenn chuckled, in one of those loveable accents Canadian east-coasters are known for.
“That was ten years ago.”
Glenn has been a motorhand at Trinidad since he started his career in the oil patch. Like many from Canada’s east coast, he flies over 6,500 kilometers (4,040 miles) to and from Alberta to work a two-and-one schedule (two weeks at work and one week at home).
After a decade in the industry, he knows all about life as an oilfield dad.
“I feel for the guys I work with who have young families at home. It’s doable, but it can be hard.”
Advice from an oilfield dad
1. Don’t dwell on it.
No matter how hard it is to be away from family, you can’t dwell on it. Working on the rigs can be dangerous if your head’s not in the game.
“When you’re at the rig, you need to focus on working hard and working safely,” Glenn noted.
2. Marry a good woman.
Part of the stress that comes from working away is worrying about what you are missing back home. Managing this is lot easier with the right partner-in-crime.
“I married a good woman,” Glenn smiled. “She takes care of the kids and always looks after business on the home front.”
3. Keep in touch.
“You have to put in the effort to stay close to family and friends,” said Glenn, noting it’s pretty easy to keep in touch with all the technology we have now.
4. Have something to look forward to after each hitch.
For Glenn and his family, travel is often on the itinerary during spring break-up or on his days off.
5. Be dedicated.
Lastly, Glenn emphasized rig hands need to be dedicated, “to their wives, to their kids, and to their work.”
The trials of being an oilfield dad are worth the rewards
Working away from home has its challenges, but Glenn believes his family is better off because of it.
Fresh out of high school, Glenn’s son Chris decided to follow his footsteps and head west to try his hand on the rigs. Four years into his career, Chris has already worked his way up to a derrickhand position.
“Chris is an excellent worker,” Glenn said proudly, “only a few people really love this lifestyle and Chris is one of them.”
Quitting a 21-year career to pursue something new was a bit of a leap of faith for Glenn, but he’s glad he did it.
“Making sacrifices for your family is all part of being a good dad.”
To all the oilfield dads grinding it out day after day to make a better life for your family – we celebrate you, and hope you had a Father’s Day to remember.