Leaving Roswell for Midland, Texas you start seeing oilfield pump jacks right off the highway.
There are no trees or bushes to hide them so they can’t be missed, look like grasshoppers, and have been shot with twenty two’s more than once. Some of the pump jacks are alone by themselves while others cluster in a circle the wagons formation with big collection tanks nearby. These fields have been producing for decades providing oil, jobs, tax revenues to the state of New Mexico and at least once a week a scruffy man in oil stained levi’s pulls his tank truck up and drains them of all the oil that came out of the well casings that go down deep into the ground.
The United States burns up millions of barrels of oil per day and oil has been pumped for a hundred and fifty years in this country to supply a modern world. Roswell and Midland is oil country and roughnecks is a word that doesn’t just describe men crawling around drilling rigs in oil stained coveralls, work boots and hard hats.
In this landscape, pump jacks work mechanically, without complaint, twenty four hours a day. The well sites are clean and not near as dirty as people’s back yards in Roswell or any of the small towns dying along the highway.
Pulling the handle off a gas station pump and sticking it in your tank is the last small part of a long chain of effort. It takes millions of years to make oil, months to make it good for our uses, and minutes for us to burn up.
When oil stops flowing, we see how uncivilized people can be.