In the last two weeks ,I've been talking a lot with landlords, oilfield workers and some of my friends who have gone back into the workforce as inspectors, consultants, and liaisons between the plant and contract workers.
I was surprised of how many of my fellow coworkers went back to work. I got the sense that they were flattered because the contract company contacted them instead of them having to go out and seek them. As they described it, the contract company, doesn't have to pay benefits to its regular or part- time employees. The company saved even more money by not having to retrain those who had retired. The only complaint my friends have, is the overtime and having to work 16 straight days without a day off. My friends really don't want that over- time and extra hours because they are 65 years old..Even though I'm happy for my friends look at all those young people that could be employed.
It's my thought that age 58 is just too young to retire and sit in a rocking chair all day long and feed the birds. I'm different; I'll take the rocking chair anytime.
One of my friends went to work as a welding inspector after a year of taking and passing special courses in that field. He showed me a check stub where he was making $100 an hour in Oklahoma. He's currently working about 30 miles north of Laredo making only $35.00 an hour. His expenses were paid for by the oil company he worked for but he was still angry because he was paying $100 a night for his roach motel and $7.00 for a six pack of Coke's at the Dollar General.
I've talked to a friend who owns a fourplex, about his rental rates because of all the talk of the rent going up in Victoria. My friend heard through the grapevine that the Chaparral over on Loop 175 is charging some outrageous prices for their rooms. He told me that he has owned his fourplex for 20 years and this is the first time he's ever had a waiting list. You went up on his rent $200 a month and is hoping that he'll recoup some of losses he's taken in previous years. I think when oil field money dries up in those towns close to Laredo, so will the towns. My friend seems to think that Caterpillar and the oil field and other associated businesses will provide him with tenants at the new rate for longtime.
My daughter's territory includes Nixon, Kennedy, Yorktown and Cuero where she tells me that the roads have been torn up by those big oil field trucks. The money to fix those roads will be paid by the taxpayers of those small towns. How long will this go on before somebody steps back and says maybe we ought to recalculate our contracts? Right now everyone is afraid to look that gift horse in the mouth.
Right now it feels like the 1970s in our city, the plant workers are talking about startups, shutdowns and future projects and the classifieds are filled with job openings. Several friends have agreed with me, that our newspaper's obituary page seems to be full every day. I thought it was just me who had noticed that, because that's the first page I read every morning.