#17 (Midland, TX)

Midland Texas is a wonderful town —  they called it “Tall City” when I was there (1985-88) because of the tall buildings downtown.

I have to admit when I first got there, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was the proverbial “main office” person. After a while I got to see what the field people (who most definitely knew what they were doing) would react when someone from the main office would come in and start making changes and recommendations and then get back on the plane and fly back to the hallowed halls of the main office. A lot of times, before the wheels of the plane had lifted off the ground, everything would have been put place in place just as it was before they arrived.

So there I was, first of all a WOMAN and not only that but I was from the Main Office. Unfortunately, I was still dressing like I was in the main office on my first job site visit. Under watchful eyes, I made it across the plowed field in my high heels, but had to admit defeat at the fording the creek. After that they used to tease me about how I had looked so stylish when I arrived, and now here I was in boots and jeans and a hard hat. Hardly glamourous!

First of all, I have to say thank you to those hard-working people in the Permian Division for being so kind to me as I learned my way. A lot of learning my way meant learning to trust and rely on them because they really knew what needed to be done. Chuck Hagen, Permian Division Superintendent, was a gentleman and a friend.

With all the news nowadays about sexual harassment and the “MeToo” movement, I never experienced any embarrassment or harassment in the entire time I was in Permian Division. No foul language, no lewd comments. But then maybe I wasn’t that provocative in my boots and jeans and hard hat!

About this time, the company made the strategic decision to divest of the processing plants upstream of the main lines. The company was now strictly in the gas transportation business. Many of the men in the Division had worked and raised families in the Division and it was hard on everyone to see it come to an end. At that point, I had been promoted to Director of Engineering for the Permian Division. But it was the end of the Permian Division and it was the end of my job.

The saddest part was to watch Chuck Hagen struggle with the ravages of cancer. You knew he was coming to an end also.

I remember my last meeting with Chuck in his office in Midland before I left to go back to El Paso, when he told me to remember that “this had nothing to do with my performance.” Right then, I didn’t fully realize the impact of what he was saying.

For the past three decades, there were three operating divisions of EPNG: Southern Division, San Juan Division, and Permian Division. Three divisions, three Engineering Directors. So now there would be two operating divisions and hence two Engineering Directors. When I got back to El Paso,  I discovered that I actually didn’t have a job. I didn’t have an office, I didn’t have a desk. Like the Iraq aftermath, nobody had thought of the repercussions to the “excess” people involved.

In the meantime, Rhodes and I were looking for a new home. He was utterly despondent about being yanked out of Midland High School just before his senior year. Fortunately, he had been named the Editor of the MHS Yearbook in his junior year. We found a condo out in Tennis West and I just remember his sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, saying he hated the place.  We had had a beautiful home in Midland that had been built just for us, so this didn’t quite measure up.

Meanwhile, back at work, a good friend told me about an opening in the Market Analysis Department. I applied for the job and thank goodness, got it. The Marketing Department had a new VP and the Market Analysis group had a new Director, so it was a new experience for all of us. Unfortunately, some of the original members of the group thought one of their own should have gotten the position I got, which generated a certain amount of unnecessary tension. But the work was really interesting and opened up a whole new part of the gas company business for me.

Stay tuned for more Continuing Saga . . .



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