Patrick Mitchell / by Michael Falco

Who is Patrick Mitchell?

Patrick Mitchell was born in Guam but soon after moved to San Antonio, then to outside Sacramento, and finally to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where his father, a military medical technician, retired. He attended Central High School in Cheyenne and then spent some time in Seattle before returning to Cheyenne with his girlfriend Brittany (also interviewed for this project) and taking a job in the oil fields. Patrick would like to move out of Cheyenne and pursue acting in the future. 

Excerpt from interview with Patrick Mitchell by Whitney Dow, 2018

Q1: Why are you not a fan of cowboys?

Mitchell: [01:04:57] I think cowboys have a mindset that puts them into an isolation and alienates them from the community because there’s this very stoic attitude that a lot of cowboys have been raised with and grown up with that makes—if I’m not doing it by myself then it’s not worth doing. And with that, you get a bunch of A-type personalities all lumped together doing that, and it creates this conflict with the people around them. They all think that they’re Billy badass when in reality, they’re just driving their parents’ dually [phonetic] Cummins diesels, and they’re blowing smoke at everybody, and they’re just being obnoxious. But that obnoxiousness, I think, comes from their entitlement, and that entitlement is what gives them that sense of—that air of douchebaggery [laughs].  They think that they can get away with anything because their dad grew up in this town and his dad grew up in this town, they all know each other. And, again, it’s this single, lone, cowboy image that they have in their head that, I think, makes them mentally feel above other people.

Q1: It’s interesting to say that idea of, you know—like this image of the—what they talk about, people who’ve dropped in here, the, sort of, rugged individualist, single cowboy out there is an entitled position. I doubt, if you talk to them, they would say, “No, actually, it’s because I take care of myself, and I—you know, I look out for my own, and I don’t rely on anybody.” So it’s interesting to hear of this, like, is an entitled position.

Mitchell: [01:06:35] I don’t think that they realize that their entitled position comes from the reliance upon the social structure. They think because they work hard that that they’re getting ahead, but they don’t realize that the industries that they work in are benefitting them because of the social structure.

Q1: Is there some sort of element race in that? You know, obviously, this is a project on whiteness, now how does that fit into that—into that—into that, sort of, story about themselves?

Mitchell: [01:07:03] I would absolutely say that there’s an element of race in that. I work in a very blue-collar industry. That industry is predominantly white people. It’s run by white people, and they hire white people because the idea of hiring somebody that, at any point, could be offended or prejudiced against makes them uncomfortable. So, they limit their liability by not hiring people of other races, people of other ethnicities or other cultural backgrounds.

Q1: What industry is that?

Mitchell: [01:07:42] I work in the oil field.


Q1: And what attracted you to this—to work in the oil field? Can you tell me about what your job is and how you came to do it?

Mitchell: [01:09:43] Absolutely. I’m attracted to the oil field because of money. I would never do this job if they didn’t pay what they paid. I get paid very well to do something that, honestly, isn’t that hard. A lot of people will look at that job and they’ll say, “Wow, you guys do a really hard job,” and I don’t agree. I think the job is strenuous. I think the job has a lot of manual labor involved, but I don’t think the job is hard. You can turn off your brain and do that job, which is why a lot of—I think a lot of people [laughs] end up being attracted to that, sort of field and career path. It’s a good way to make money without really having to sacrifice your personality or your [individuality]. You just show up and do the job.

Now, my actual job is, if I had to cut and dry it, I would be a professional pipe cleaner. Every oil site digs a hole. Well, that hole has to stay open. They use what’s called a casing pipe to run down the hole. Well, they order twenty thousand feet of casing pipe at any given time. That casing pipe comes fresh off of a pipe company that has threaded them, put collars on a male and female ends on the pipe, external and internal threads. They put pipe dope, which is a lubrication and sealant, on the threads, and then they put a large plastic cap on those ends. Those pipes need to be inspected, counted, tallied, and cleaned. My job is to show up, take off those caps, run a weighted drift through each one ensuring that there’s no debris inside of the pipes and ensuring the diameter of each pipe. Then we get to cleaning and we clean out all the threads—completely, polishy [sic], shiny clean—cleaning all that excess lubricating pipe dope off.

In doing that, we are, actually, mostly inspecting the threads. They’re just going to put pipe dope right back on them, but they want to ensure that the threads have been inspected. The only way you can truly do that is to clean that pipe dope off. So we use air-powered brush guns, and we put them on each end, and run it until it’s clean, inspect them, roll the next one on.

Q1: That’s interesting. And where in the oil fields do you work, the Wyoming oil fields, Texas oil fields? Where do you go to work?

Mitchell: [01:12:05] The oil fields that I work, I work in Wyoming and Colorado. Our company extends all the way up to North and South Dakota, parts of Montana, parts of Utah, and parts of Nebraska. Now, our shop, predominantly, works in Wyoming and Colorado. However, we’ve been known to send people up to North and South Dakota, no problem.

Q1: And so, you know, it sounds like you’re not your typical, oil-field worker from what you’re saying. How do you, sort of, fit in with that crew? Do you feel like an outsider? They look at you as an outsider, or they think, “Oh, you’re—here’s this is like iconoclast over there. He’s pretty big so we’re not going to fuck with him, [laughter] but he’s—”

Mitchell: [01:12:53] How do I fit into the oil field? I would absolutely agree with what you said. I tend to feel like an outsider. I’m a bit of an iconoclast. I show up talking about things that I don’t think they’ve—ever even crossed their mind or ever thought about in their entire lives. A good example of that is artificial or lab-grown meat. We had a big discussion, [laughs] more so argument, just the other day about the benefits of lab-grown meat, and how it’s completely harmless, and it’s, actually, better for the environment. It’s, actually, a better product in the end. They weren’t having any of it. Until they all got done with the discussion in all of my valid points then they reserved and retreated back into the corner of, “Well, it’s just not natural, and it goes against God,” which seems to be their ultimate standpoint on any of their deep-thinking issues—that it goes against God. And I find that very interesting because anything that they, ultimately, don’t like gets retreated into that corner of defense.

Interview Transcript