A Story in Three Parts – A Memorable Day – Part One
The Run Up to Terror
Writing about one particular “memorable day” is a harder task than I first imagined. I have had plenty of memorable days. The account of this “memorable day” contains the accumulated memories of several days leading up to the day I remember as one of the most frightening days of my life.
With great clarity, I remember the first time I was helicoptered out to an oil rig in the middle of the North Sea to begin my first two-week shift, doing God knows what kind of labor. All I knew was it would be hard, physical labor. I also knew it would be potentially dangerous work. If that wasn’t enough to engage my active, imaginative, suspicious, scared as hell mind set, nothing would be.
I had taken the train up from London to Aberdeen on Thursday, the day before I was to begin my new job. That’s what the representative from my new employer told me I should do.
Here’s what I remember happened next, beginning with waking up at the Dee Motel in Aberdeen Scotland after a short night’s sleep.
My instructions from the company that had hired me to work on the oil rig were simple and clear: on Friday, be outside the Aberdeen Train Station promptly at 8:00 am to get on a shuttle bus that would take me to the Aberdeen Airport, the second leg of my trip to the rig. Obviously the first leg was the trip from London to Aberdeen.
In fact, the train trip from London northward towards my own unique rendezvous with destiny was actually the second leg of a trip that started at the airport in Newark, New Jersey for my flight to Heathrow Airport London. This first leg, second leg, narration will get very confusing very quickly. So, let me be somewhat loose with some of the finer details of how and when I found myself standing outside the train station in Aberdeen that Friday morning in May. Who really cares what leg of my journey this represented?
A cab picked me up at the motel about 7:15 am Friday morning. I informed my cab driver that all I knew was I was to meet a shuttle bus taking folks from the train station to the airport to go out on an oil rig in the North Sea. My brief travel instructions to the cabbie didn’t seem to phase him. He obviously had done this before with other similarly confused passengers.
All too quickly, the cab stopped in front of the train station.
To be honest, I was hoping for a longer ride. I hadn’t had enough time to deal with my increasing anxiety. “Here you go, Laddie.” I got out and the cabdriver got on with his day.
I wasn’t sure I was at the correct gathering spot at the train station. Folks who work on oil rigs don’t stand out from the general population. They look normal. But a large gathering of guys, standing in a group, smoking cigarettes and talking too loudly for 7:45 am was a tip off these guys might be my companions for the next two weeks. In a vain attempt to start off on the right foot, I tried to engage the group in conversation. They would have none of it. I was no one of consequence, just a new face. New faces didn’t show up in that group without some concerns for the veteran workers. I would have to ease those concerns at some point. For now, I followed the group onto the shuttle bus that had just arrived and off we went to the airport in Aberdeen.
Everything on the ride out to the airport was new to me.
It was routine to the others on the bus. They were off to work. I was off to adventure. They weren’t as interested as I in the quaintness of the streets of Aberdeen or watching shops opening along the way or being fascinated by the early morning activity along the waterfront. Like I said, they were going to work, I was going on an adventure. Every flower and tree, every storefront sign, every sea gull looking for a free meal, every noise and smell was unfamiliar to me and held secrets to be explored. My companions on the shuttle had milked dry the secrets of those scenes. I was fascinated, they were oblivious. My fascination would soon turn into terror.
End of Part One
Part Two will appear on January 17, 2018.
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