COLUMN: Board games: Entertainment aboard the oil rig (PHOTOS)

Rachelle Roubique, Dispatch from the Oil Fields
Rachelle Roubique, Dispatch from the Oil Fields

I thought working offshore would give me ample opportunity to read, take some classes online, write, and relax during my half a day off. Little did I know that 12 hours offshore is the equivalent of 18 hours on land, and I would barely be awake by the end of my shift. However, on the days when I find myself awake and bored, I’m lucky to have a few friends to entertain me.

There is usually a fitness or weight loss competition on our platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which is good considering: Steak Night two nights a week, fried seafood every Friday, and fried chicken every Sunday combined with an endless supply of cookies, cakes, brownies, chips, crackers, pork skins, and pudding.

For the contests, we are often divided into groups; my group is now a gang. That’s right, we are The Transformers — mainly because we will be the most “transformed,” and the guys wouldn’t go for any of my other, much more creative names.

We run, jump rope, lift weights and the truly confident among us use a rainbow colored, weighted hula-hoop. Some ride a super scary computer-bike that is NOTHING like my comfy beach cruiser. I’ve only ridden it once; it’s a really intimidating bike!

This is all pretty standard. But on days when we have extra time, we are a bit more creative.

The most fun for me is a game where I am only an observer. We roll out fake turf, set up a net and I sit back to watch as Kent tries to teach Cody how to play golf.

It always starts the same: I talk Kent into helping me set up the net, we’re all laughing and joking. Cody listens to each detail and tries to do things such as “keep your body like a barrel,” “Follow through!” and “Don’t worry about the ball! Focus on your swing!”

This inevitably leads to, “What’s the point of swinging if I don’t have anything to aim at?” “You have to practice your swing FIRST!” then “Fine, here, try to hit it!” which will result in a miss and then, “Now, are you going to LISTEN?”

I mean, it really is like watching a SNL skit. I laugh at them until Kent gets frustrated, Cody gets discouraged and we end up going to the dining room for a snack.

The golf net takes a while to set up and we can’t use it if it’s too windy, so on those evenings we resort to things such as building robots or playing dominoes; once, we combined the two.

I call them robots, but that too creates an argument with Kent who insists that they are “robot-like” or “mini-bots” because they can’t be remote controlled; they have on/off switches and using the word “build” may be gratuitous because they are actually “assembled.”

Sometimes it hits me that we live a strange life, but still, sitting on an oil platform, 150 miles south of the coast, playing dominoes with a “robot-like” arm is still pretty cool.

Right now, I feel lucky.

Rachelle Roubique is a Destin business owner who has lived in the Panhandle for many years, taking brief escapes to islands and cities to maintain sanity but always returning to the Gulf. She currently works as a site manager for a catering company that operates on oil rigs and natural gas platforms.