I REMEMBER SITTING ACROSS from John P. Clements, III, Drilling Manager for Exxon’s New Orleans Offshore Drilling Department, explaining my reasons for wanting the job as mud engineer, aka, ditch digger, all the while thinking that he looked exactly like LBJ. Twins separated at birth. I think he, too, was aware of the similarity in appearance and used it to his best advantage.
He leaned back in his brown tufted leather chair, placed his cowboy booted feet up on the expansive, real wood, desk which took up most of the office space, and said with an easy Texas drawl, “Let’s forget about that job. I have something else in mind. But first, tell me, what do you know about Exxon?” I answered him, truthfully. “Nothing. I know nothing about Exxon except for what I’d heard over the radio.” He shook his head in agreement and said, “I’ll give you one day to find out about us.”
At that, he rose, extended his hand and we shook on the deal. His secretary made an appointment for me on the following day. I left his office and went straight to the nearest Library.
I was horrified to find out that a mud engineer is another name for a chemical engineer. The ‘mud’ they use in drilling oil wells is not really mud, but a mixture of chemicals that when mixed together resembles mud. I must have sounded like a total idiot, I thought. But even so, I went back the next day, because here was a man who was willing to give me a chance.
When I arrived for our second meeting, I recited for him all the facts I’d learned about Exxon. I got the job. No. Not as a mud engineer, of course, but as an administrative assistant.