Monday, July 13, 2009

the cementing rush

There is a certain sort of thrill that goes with every cement job we do. Admittedly, it's a somewhat nervous and constantly pacing thrill wrought from the many ways which I know (and have unfortunately seen) a job go badly. But on every job that I am on, there is a definite rush of sorts during the job that is overtaken by mild relief when we finish. (While I no longer work in a direct field position, I still have reasons to be in the field, mostly for audits and/or some degree of technical supervision.)

I suppose this is perhaps somewhat hard for non-industry people to understand. It might even be hard for non-cementers to understand. During a cement job, the clock is ticking. Now, you have tests that give you a decent idea of when that clock will run out and when that cement will no longer be pumpable. It may take longer than you expect, but it could be shorter, which is why there's always some planned buffer time. But once you start mixing and pumping, there's no turning back. Either finish successfully or reap very serious consequences. Most serious consequences involve at least a 12 hour delay, but that could easily surpass several days depending on the circumstances of the failure. Either way, no one is happy and hopefully, you're in a position for a do over.

Most operations allow for some degree of stopping, sometimes even an indefinitely long stop. Cementing not so much. Depending on what you're pumping, it's very risky to stop for more than a couple minutes and anything more than 30 minutes spells near-certain failure. All this means that it has to be done right, in one continuous go, and it better be right the first time. Hence the rush.

On a recent job, we skirted that not-so-fine line between total disaster and not total disaster. We worked through multiple 'issues' is what I'm going to call them that resulted in a couple unplanned changes to the execution of the job. Yes, that's suitably vague. Suffice to say, the end result was good, but I won't pretend that how we got there was very pretty. At one point, I was standing on top of one of our units (which is a normal place to be) during one of these issues and I stopped to look at something and I could feel my heart just pounding away. A combination of focus, thrill, nerves, and terror were coursing through me. No second chances, no stopping for long, this needs to get done now. It's the cementing rush.


buickguy said...

The cementing rush is your equivalent to closing the deal. I understand. Dare I say your rush is "fun?"

gluey said...

Did you get the same HIGH like you get it from cement glue?