The Pipeline Worker, Ted D. and The Lost Dog

For  the last few weeks in World History we’ve been studying the background and origin of the Keystone XL Pipeline. For those who don’t know, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a 1,179 mile crude oil pipeline that is proposed to be built and in service by 2015. The main purpose of the pipeline is to give American and Canadian oil producers access to a wider range of oil refining markets across America. The class spent a lot of time watching and listening to different opinions and movements toward the pipeline. There were many that opposed and gave solid facts to why the pipeline is dangerous and detrimental to America, then there were those who gave facts, that later turned out to be inaccurate and/or exaggerated. We were then given the assignment to write three different monologues from the perspectives of three different people and/or things towards the pipeline. These are the monologues I’ve written from those perspectives.

Brief facts about the Pipeline: 

  • The TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline is intended to be built and in service by 2015 and will stretch from Canada to Texas.
  • Will stretch a total of 1,179 miles between Canada and United States and will transport 830,000 barrels of oil everyday.

  • Will cost an estimated total of $5.3 billion US dollars.

  • According Dr. James Hansen, if the pipeline were to break and cause an oil spill, it would be “game over” for our environment.

  • About 7,000 US jobs are being supported through TransCanada’s need for pipeline materials.

  • About 4,000 US employees have been hired by TransCanada in Oklahoma and Texas.

  • 60% of the oil that is produced is from different countries.

The Pipeline Worker

(Sue drops her bundle of keys three times before exiting her home as she is stalked by her orange cat. The day is gloomy and the sun is shining between every section of the window blinds. Sue closes the front door in a silent hurry and heads down her long set of stairs)

I hate being late. It’s not exactly one of those things that leave people with a good impression of you, right? It’s like you don’t care about anyone but yourself and no one buys your excuses anymore. (She pulls her hair out of her face as her feet hit each step with heavy stomps)You see- I was up all night watching jeopardy and helping with homework at the same time. My job calls for me to be there every weekday at 9 am, but that doesn’t give me enough time to get my girls ready for school that starts at 8:30.  

(She trips over a small log merged into the landing)

SHIT- ow…Did anybody see that? (She looks to both sides of her frantically. When realizing no one was there, she continued on). Anyway… The bills have been piling up. Electricity is the most expensive thing around this place. And since my deadbeat husband doesn’t want to give me money for anything, the bills stay. It’s not like it matters really. This new job I’m taking up should pay more than what his salary is. So I don’t have to worry about asking him for squat. When I save up enough, I can actually get the heck outta here. Plus, since this thing is going be up and running by 2015, i’ll have a steady job for the next few years.

(Sue unchains her bike and takes off down the road)

So yeah- my husband- well- the guy who isn’t really a husband but just someone who put a ring on my finger- is a shrub. He could be taking this job instead of me, but he decides to literally stay home all day. I want him, but then again, I don’t. He used to be so ambitious until the accident he had a few years ago. Now he just lays in the dark, with a bucket of tubes and screws filling in as his heart.

--OH C’MON LADY! (Sharply putting on her brakes, Sue’s hair whips her in the face).What type of driving is that?! Are you blind or just plain stupid? ..See these are the type of people I have to deal with every damn day. A bunch of morons if you ask me. And no- I’m not some sort of hothead who blows up at every little thing, that woman just doesn’t know how to make a u-turn and someone needs to tell her about it. I could be late for work-all of us drivers could be late and it’d be all because a giant rhinoceros fairy can’t see even if her eyes are open.

(She drives under a short tunnel, splashing some mud water on the sides of her shoes. She sighs heavily in disgust)

I just can’t wait for this day to be over. I hardly know much about construction, or any type of architecture at that. I got turned onto this job by some guy on the bus. He said the ladies barely have to do anything but push a couple of buttons and bring water to the men. Easy paycheck if you ask me...The guy was sweaty and musty. I don’t really pay attention to guys like that or anyone for that matter, but he seemed to know what he was talking about.

(Reaching the end of the tunnel and out into daylight, Sue rides into a dead end. It was a dirt field that’s already occupied by some visitors)

He said that it would be an easy paycheck, but the price to pay was actually ruining the Earth itself. It’s not that I don’t care about the global warming theory and climate change and blah-blah-blah, It’s just that I’m sick of hearing about it. The moment the Earth came into existence is when it starting slowly falling apart. We’re just speeding up the process.

I mean, the entire project isn’t perfect. But the benefits outweigh the non-beneficial aspects. I skimmed through a little brochure after I first got hired. Apparently, all of the hype about the pipeline being dangerous and filled with crude tar oil sands is just a bunch of bloated drama. A bunch of know it alls claimed that crude tar oil sands were the dirtiest and most dangerous out there. But it was proven that oil sands were no more corrosive than any other heavy crudes. Even in some cases they seemed to be less corrosive.

Our economy is supposed to improve as well, which means there is going to be more money pumping into the pockets of hardworking Americans like myself. Taxes will increase in about $5 billion. This will go into the communities across the nation and will help educate our children. I mean it sounds too good to be true but look-....

(Approaching the gates to the TransCanada pipeline site, she is yelled at by nearby protesters)

What is with these people? Why are you guys yelling at me? I’m just doing my job it’s not my fault.

How exactly am I adding to the problem? I didn’t ask for them to build this thing now did I?!

I am just trying to provide for my children!

(The screams and shouts of the protestors get louder. Sue reads the signs that are being held)

Tar sands and oil spills? If It’s built right nothing will happen! America can have future. Our kids can have a future don’t you guys understand. It’s not my fault. My husband can’t work! What am I supposed to do?

(Sue disappears into the crowd. Shouting and defending herself from the painful reality the crowd has given to her).

Ted D.

(Ted is heading to the station wagon with a tall businessman by his side. It is raining heavily and fog is thick)

I have never aspired to be anything. Mainly because the thing that I am supposed to be, has already been chosen for me. I am not really the ambitious type person either. I spend a lot of my time reading or watching UFO documentaries. There isn’t much to do at my home other than that. My parent’s aren’t around so I’ve been secluded to the role of being a latchkey child.

Today I’m supposed to be going to a lame pipeline press conference my dad is working on. It’s hard to call him my dad, honestly. I wish I could say it without feeling a bit empty inside. He used to leave me at my aunts house for days to weeks when I younger and wouldn’t come back unless reminded to. He’s not a very good dad either. (Ted grabbed onto the dripping wet handle of the black Range Rover. He had to play with it a bit before the door unlocked from the inside)

(He gets into the passenger side of the car and waits patiently for Fred to turn the ignition). I might sound like a entire emotional wreck here, but I’m really not. I do fun things. However, the ratio for fun and work is pretty uneven and really unfair in most cases. My dad wanted me to memorize a bunch of important information about the pipeline that boosts his revenue. Because ya know, hearing it from a completely “innocent” kid will bring more supporters than from a man in a suit.

(He holds onto thick deck of index cards with dozens of paragraphs on them. He cracks his window, letting in thick cool air. Fred immediately rolls his window back up)

(Ted turns to Fred, shocked and says in a whiny voice..) What are you doing? It’s like an oven in here...You know it’s pretty rude to do something like. I can tell my dad… My dad DOES care about me. He just isn’t around enough to show it thats all. Mind your business please.

(There was a brief silence before Ted decided to break the silence).

Ask me something about the pipeline. I need to rehearse these cards for dad and I’m trying memorize as much as possible… “...introducing the pipeline to America will bring more jobs to us and more ways to keep America, American”..(He raised an eyebrow) Did a five year old write this? Do these people actually buy this load of crap? (He sincerely stared at the profile of Fred’s face) Do you?

...Yeah it’s your job but shouldn’t you be doing something with your life that actually makes you happy and you know...something that will help the world?…I’m not being rude, I’m just saying the truth. You know my dad better than anyone so...what’s he like?

...Just as I expected, I guess. I don’t trust him at all so when he asked me to speak for him, I was really reluctant. I looked up a bunch of information about the pipeline and knew it was too good to be true. You know what he told me? That there was nothing to worry about and to just do what he said. But the sad thing is, he lied to me.

I’ve got to talk about how the pipeline would reduce American dependence on foreign oil, when in reality that’s a big fat lie! (His voice was high in anger). The oil that Canada transports to American refineries will be sold in different markets all over the world! They’re going to take the cheap Canadian oil and turn into diesel so they can sell it in Latin America and Europe. A good amount of the oil from the pipeline isn’t even going to reach American gas tanks!

I called this one with common sense. If that pipeline breaks, our entire environment is going straight to hell. The spill would be the equivalent, or worse than the BP oil spill. Keystone even predicted that there would 1 spill every 7 years, but there have already been 12 in one year. These idiots are getting the pipe materials from the same Indian manufacturer that sold them the faulty pipes in the first place! (He started to calm down and his voice lowered.). And the animals...our wildlife would be toast.

(Ted looked down at his note cards, his hands were shaking) I’m sorry. I’m just sick of being fed of bunch of lies and being forced to take them and stride. I have to swallow my tongue because the big guy is my father.’ve know all about  this? Why haven’t you said anything?

(He looked at his deck of cards.)I plan on swapping this deck for a more refined and innovated version if you know what I mean. It’s time someone tell the truth and I may just be the one kid that has to do it…(He crumbled them into his hands).

What are you smiling at Fred?

-Lost Dog-

(A small weiner dog waddles around a crowd of humans that resembled giants in his eyes. He and these beings were outside of a Keystone XL pipeline construction site. The humans used their bodies to keep the pipe from being built.)

I’ve never seen so many angry faces everywhere before. Definitely not my family. My family is nice and the kids always give me extra beef jerky before bedtime.

(The dog stopped in his tracks and perked it’s small ears up in excitement). OH LOOK AT HIS BEARD. ITS SO LONG. AND SO MANY HAIRS. (He admired the long brown hairs of a tall man).

(The dog continues to quickly walk around the crowd. Directionless). Sorry... I get distracted so easily. I got lost from my family a few days ago while we were at the beach. They were trying to clean up some birds that had gotten caught in an oil spill nearby. I felt sorry for the poor fluttery things. They wouldn’t have been able to fly away from me if they tried. A few seconds later, I caught myself chasing this really pretty squirrel and sort of got lost on the way. I’ve been through dog hell, I can say the least.

I’ve had to trek through little creeks with tons of trash filling them. I couldn’t eat any fish of course because they’re weren’t any. I almost got run over twice. And I’ve had to either sleep in cold puddles or on top of street steamers because of the constant change in temperatures. My coat isn’t very thick either so I guess you could say it’s been a pretty hectic few days for me.

(The dog is picked up by one of the protestors abruptly)

Woah! What are you doing? (His objections sounded like loud barks to his kidnapper). My ears are pretty sensitive, so if you keep yelling like that I may run away. If you’re planning on taking me home with you I would like you to atleast contact my owner. I have a chip so you can do that okay?

(The dog stopped struggling upon realizing he wasn’t being hurt). I can’t understand a word these people are saying. I wish they would talk in those nice voices like my family does. But the imagery is compelling enough for me to pay attention and they seem to try to be making a case. (He looked in all directions of the crowd. Mainly at the signs)

That sign has a group of humans looking sad as they walk...away from a building? They look like they’re crying. It’s kind of similar to that time when Daddy came home upset from his awful long time away. He said he was usually gone 8 hours, but for me it seemed like an eternity. After that he stayed home almost everyday.

Wow! That woman over there is very intense. She’s saying “STOP TAR SANDS!”. I don’t know what tar sands are, but they seem to make her upset. Maybe they’re a bad thing? (The dog looked to a couple holding a series of enlarged pictures of animals covered in oil).

They’re just like the birds from the beach! Except there’s a cat, a fish, a penguin...a dog. Would I end up just like the birds covered in oil at the beach? I won’t be able to run around and play anymore?

“Keystone is not accounting for the wildlife that this pipeline will affect! Thousands of animals will perish at the hands of the greedy people who care for no one else but themselves! Your pipeline will cross through many agriculture lands, fisheries, the rivers of Missouri and Niobrara! Such pollution from this pipeline of death will cause carbon emissions to rise and ultimately our environment will be doomed!” ‘

(The dog intently listened to the foreign words of the woman. His attention was then caught by a large, grey headed man).

“The SDEIS haven’t been doing their job…” (The man was old, and couldn’t yell as loud as the crowd. “...The extraction and refinement of the tar oil sands effects GHG emissions way more than other conventional oil. Adding the pipeline to these emissions will cause a 12-23 million metric ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Nothing short of the emissions that 2-4 coal-power plants give off. These emissions are being underestimated by over 20%”

(The old man began coughing and the dog continued to look. The old man was so big, he had just noticed the tiny human by his side.) Hey...That looks like Matilda! I mean, it’s not Matilda but it could be! I know her scent anywhere!  (The girl had dirty golden hair and studded blue eyes). Why...why is she crying? Is this making her sad? The pipeline? The pipeline must be the problem here. That is why everyone looks upset.

(The dog is put down and left to roam. He begins barking and running down the road, signifying his support of the protest).