I had a new experience the other day. I overheard a conversation of people bashing on the oilfield. This is the first time I have experienced any sort of prejudice about the OF in my 10 years of being a ROW.  

I had taken my kids to Carl’s Jr for dinner…..I’m not a big fan of fast food, or of play places –  the thought of all the germs freak me out, and they always smell like stinky feet –  but I thought it would be a treat for the kids.  Carl’s Jr has the biggest playplace in town, it’s 3 stories high so the kids were happy and having a good time.  That’s when it happened. There were two families sitting together – 2 husbands, 2 wives, and a half dozen or so kids.  And just to be clear, I wasn’t actually eavesdropping, they were purposely talking loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.  From what I can gather, both men were policeman, but I’m not saying anything bad about cops. I am a cop’s daughter and I have the highest respect law enforcement.  However, these two particular law enforcers think that they are well above us ‘oilfielders’, that’s for sure. They were under the assumption that just anybody can go and get hired at the Slope. Obviously they have never tried to get hired at the North Slope. Although listening to them was actually amusing to me,  (I had to act like I read something really funny on my phone a couple times because I actually laughed outloud at what they were saying) it also didn’t feel very good to hear what some people truly think about the OF. They were just trying to impress each other and be funny and loud  – so I took everything they said with a grain of salt, and didn’t let it get to me. Their thoughts on the matter were basically that Oilfield workers are second class citizens – lowly, uneducated, bottom of the barrel  – and if you can’t get a job anywhere else – then you head on over to the oil field ‘cuz they’ll take anybody.  Oil Field Trash.  It’s always been a joke between my Hot Oil Man and myself –  the whole “Oilfield trash” thing that is.  We tease each other about it, in fact while we lived in CO I had a big “Oil field trash” decal on the back of my Cadillac Escalade.  But I’ve never experienced any sort of discrimination against me (other than in a joking way) because of being in the oilfield. In fact, since moving to AK, the opposite is usually true.  More than once someone has told us, “Oh, you work on the north slope? Well then you’re rich.”  Which also couldn’t be further than the truth.  There are many misconceptions about the oilfield, whether it’s that we’re all poor, or that we’re all rich, or even that we’re “all” anything.  OF is everyone from rig hand to CEO.  Some are single, some are family men, some work two jobs…..everyone’s situation is different and there is no way to throw them all together into one group and say they are all the same. And I’d say lumping us all together or assuming we’re all “trash” is as inaccurate as calling all cops pigs.

So, here’s my question, have you ever been mistreated or experienced discrimination  due to the fact you are “oil field trash”?

About jenna

Jenna has been an oilfield wife for over 12 years. Her Hot Oil Man husband started working in the oilfield a few months before they were married. The oilfield has lead them all the way from Northern CO to Alaska, where they've lived in the Matanuska Valley for 4 years. The family consists of their two children; a strong-willed daughter age 10, and a goofy son age 7. And of course what family would be complete without a couple of dogs and rabbits thrown in the mix. Jenna is a stay at home mom who doesn't “stay at home” much, and enjoys gardening, baking, reading, watching movies, four wheeling, hiking, fishing, and LOVES shopping. Since moving to the last frontier they have also started home schooling, which is another adventure all it’s own.


  1. Its just like racism.

  2. WE get interesting comments about our marriage because he can be gone for 30 days at time sometimes. Like what kind of wife I am that makes hime want to be gone that long. Surprise, we have a great marriage! 🙂

    • I think it means that you are secure in your marriage. It seems a little needy and un-trusting to think that a husband and wife must be together ALL the time to have a good marriage.
      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kari Broadhead Doherty says:

    I’m sorry that has happened to you, Those particular cops should be grateful for the OF workers whose tax dollars go towards paying their wages! I had the unfortunate experience of this happening to me by a neighbor, who also attended the same church as I did. Back in 2008 things started to slow down, we had just finished a renovation on our home, we were at a church function and discussing how slow it had gotten. The co my ofm worked for had cut his salary by 70 % I had stated how poor our timing for a renovation had been, it had been a long time since I had worried about finances and if we hadn’t spent such a large amount of our savings and the stock market hadn’t taken a nose dive we would have no worries, but that wasn’t the case, my neighbor who works as a furniture salesman and her husband worked at the local window and door shop, speaks up and says boy I’m sure glad that we both went to college and that we aren’t tied to the oilfield, that must really suck for you. I was pissed that she said that in such a snotty look down her nose at me way. Fast forward 18 months later when things have hit rock bottom here in the basin and they are returning their leased luxury suv and selling their home before they lose it. I asked her if someone had lost their job? She said no, but things are dead around here, no one is building homes so Johns job is very slow and they’ve cut his wages, and since no one is buying houses, no one is furnishing them either, so I hardly make anything off of commissions, I asked no one is building homes and buying furniture, or No one in the oilfield is? One way or the other everyone is tied to the oilfield, like it or not, our money trickles down to even the smallest of businesses, supports our schools and community, and it’s the oilfield business’s and C’so that are the first to donate money in our community. The only thing that I could say to my neighbor was don’t worry, you guys will be fine, you’ve both been to college!! Oh and I did help them load their moving van—smiling just a little bit as I did!

    • Thank you for you story!
      We also experienced the slow down of 08. My husband’s income majorly decreased and along with the that, the real estate market crashed at the same time. Our house lost about 40 to 50k in value. But unlike the majority, we were able to keep our home and didn’t go into foreclosure. We’ve always lived within our means, so we were able to cut a few corners and make it out OK, and doing better than ever now. Not all the “college graduates” can say that! 😉

  4. Felicity McNelley says:

    Yep we get called trash all the time. I am proud to be oilfield trash or whatever those fools want to call me. And my husband and I are both very educated. SO talk away while we make good money 🙂

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