Thursday, June 10, 2010

"I Want My Life Back, Waaaaa, Waaaaa"

“I just want my life back.” – BP CEO Tony Hayward

As a tough-as-nails chief executive of one of the largest energy companies in the world, I’m not given to nostalgia, except when I am. Today’s one of those days.

I was sitting in my ‘command center’ at the New Orleans Four Seasons- where I remain despite the fact that it’s so much more Spartan than my usual corporate command center, because I recognize that it’s important to be ‘on the ground’- and I got to thinking about the good old days. That was the good life. And as I took a look around at the four tiny bedrooms of this suite, all totally crammed with daily briefings and newspapers and open laptops streaming video of those silly little robots at the bottom of the sea, I realized: I want it back. I want my life back.

Is that so wrong?

I mean, I don’t want to return to the halcyon days of my youth, booting a football ‘round a verdant little pitch outside Windsor (I guess for you Yanks it might be like tossing the pigskin on a clear summer day at the beach- er- in the back yard). No, nothing like that. I just want the life I had six months ago back.

Back then, every time I mentioned oil it was at a shareholders meeting, or some convention, and everyone I was speaking to would cast their eyes up at me with a look that can only be compared to worship. With a barrel of the light sweet stuff going for almost 66 quid (sorry, a hundred bucks), who could blame them?

They used to look at me like a god, now every time someone looks me in the eye- which happens a lot more often now- they look at me like I’m the destroyer of worlds. It’s enough to make a man want to crawl aboard his yacht and sail to some distant shore without any frickin’ tar balls on it.

In fact, that’s where I was six months ago. December kind of sucks in London, so I took the old sloop down to the Virgin Islands. Not your Virgins, ours. Just kicking back in my deck shoes, wearing Bermuda shorts, sipping rum the color of the stuff smeared on those Louisiana pelicans.

See, that’s the kind of life I want to get back. Dark rum, Bermuda shorts....

It was warm and breezy six months ago in the Virgin Islands, not humid and sweltering like it’s been here. I don’t know how people on the Gulf coast do it. I’m actually pretty impressed with their resiliency. They can’t fish, they can’t go to the beach, and it’s muggy all summer? And they had a storm around here a while back, right? Wow.

Still, no one has to go through what I go through every day since that stupid rig exploded. So many questions and accusations! “Tony, you broke a bunch of safety rules.” “Tony, how long is it going to take to stop the leak?” “Tony, you lied about the amount of oil being spilled.” “Tony, what the hell is a Top Hat?”
Look, I don’t know, all right? I know you all don’t run a company with a $109 billion market cap, and none of you are CEOs with a $1.5 million salary, so let me explain how it works. I hire guys like me, guys with very nice suits and long resumes and great club memberships. I know those guys. Then those guys hire guys, and I know some of them, too. But when those guys hire guys (and so on and so on), I don’t know them. They’re not calling me and asking, “Hey Tony, you think we oughta check the blowout thingy today, or can we let it slide for a week?” If they had called me and asked that, of course I’d have told them to check it. But they call the guys hired by the guys hired by the guys that I hired. How am I supposed to know what they said?

And everybody breaks rules. If we had to follow every ticky-tack safety regulation those bleeding heart Labour and Democrat politicians push through, we’d still be juicing Texas tea from rusty derricks like Daniel Day Lewis. Except all the roughnecks would be wearing fire-retardant full body padding and taking a break every ten minutes. Fortunately for our North American operations, the kids in charge of enforcing those rules in the US were too busy boffing each other to notice when we let some standards slip.

Nobody minded, six months ago. We were all getting along so well! Now it’s a different story.

It’s like you break curfew one time, and you’re grounded forever. How is that fair?
Anyway, this thing’s going to go on for a long time. You just know I’m going to have to take a salary cut, and I’m going to have some monster hotel bills if I have to stay here the whole time and look concerned. I’m not looking forward to that credit card bill, you know what I’m saying?

So I guess I’m sorry. I mean it, I wish none of this had ever happened.

You all see that tough-as-nails CEO Mr. Hayward; really, I’m just a very sad little Tony. I want to sail on my boat and watch a little World Cup.

That’s what I’d be doing if I didn’t have to be here in this slimy, oily swamp.

So if it’s not too much trouble, I’d like my life back, please.


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