Celine Dion in concert, which Brian Crossman and his wife Val have yet to see. Photo courtesy Celinedion.com

My wife Valerie has always wanted to see Celine Dion perform live. She loves many of the songs she sings, along with the obvious amazing talent the performer possesses. And of course she is Canadian. While not as big a fan, I am in awe of her incredible voice, and I like a few of her songs. (That one by Jim Steinman comes to mind because it sounds like a Meatloaf song.)

I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell does this have to do with the oilpatch?” Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

A few years back, in the fall of 2015, I thought I would pull off the ultimate awesome husband maneuver. I would get my lovely wife her dream concert. She was going to see Celine Dion live in concert in Las Vegas. Val can check one item off the bucket list. And by doing so, I was the best husband on the block. Hell, probably in town. Damn straight. So I went online and ordered the tickets. Not only were they great seats, but the concert was on the night of my wife’s birthday. I am going to be the rock star of husbands. Hell yeah.

 

 

So I book the flights and hotel, show her the tickets and the plan. All is well. My plan is right on target, like a well-planned day at work, a workover program or a business plan. Laser-focused, am I. My ecstatic wife and I board the plane and off we go. She is going to see Celine Dion. Awesome!

We arrive in Vegas, and take a cab to the hotel. The day is sunny and warm; the cabbie is friendly and helpful. This is an exciting day, to be sure. Val is happily unpacking our suitcase and I am hanging up the good clothes for the concert. Then, my cellphone rings. It’s my good friend Mike. Mike lives in Houston and I had told him we were going to be in Vegas to see Celine. I thought maybe he was going to fly in and meet us for supper.

Mike: “Dude! You in Vegas yet?”

Me: “Yeah bro, just unpacking. What’s up?”

Mike: “Did you hear about Celine’s husband?”

Me: “Huh?”

Mike: “Dude. He passed away this morning.”

Me: *

Mike: “He’s gone, dude.”

Me: “Shut the F— up.”

Mike: “No joke, dude. Do you think she’ll cancel?”

Me: “No doubt about it, Bro. Now I get to tell Val.”

Mike:  *

Me: “Shit.”

Mike: “Good luck with that, bro.”

Me: “Thanks, bro.” (The previous is a standard exchange with Mike, a no-bullshit safety professional and ex-military to boot. He has my utmost respect, forever.)

So of course I tell Val, who, while crushed, feels terrible for Celine’s loss, as do I. The tears flow in the realization we will not be getting to see Celine Dion in concert. So now what? It’s time to shift our focus and change the plan. We do a little research and end up getting tickets to see John Fogarty. He’s been playing at the Venetian for several months, and we are both huge fans. We go to the concert on Val’s birthday and it turns out to be one of the best concerts ever – great music, stories and production. It was an amazing evening.

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So where are we with this story? Well it makes me think of the current state of our industry, as well as the preceding few years. How many times have all of us gotten our hopes up, only to be crushed yet again by bad news regarding the work picture? How many times have you or your boss submitted bid packages on projects, only to be undercut on price by a competitor? We can’t and won’t perform work at a loss. Hard on the positive attitude, isn’t it? But you know what? If you look for other options, maybe you are able to devise and implement a new, potentially better, plan. Never say die.

It’s all about the hand in the air, with Celine Dion. Photo courtesy Celinedion.com

I did end up buying tickets again to see Celine in Saskatoon. Fifth row. I’m gonna be a hero. Then, COVID-19 hits. Nice. Cancelled again. (Expletive deleted) But you know what? Val took it in stride. While there were some tears, she recently purchased tickets to a streaming concert featuring Hootie & the Blowfish. These guys are great and a favourite of ours. We enjoyed an excellent pre-recorded concert from our living room ‑ good music and stories, (cheap beer and food.) A memorable evening, to be sure.

So, surprise, surprise, you may have to change your plan again. And again. But keep trying. Don’t ever give up. The times we are currently going through are difficult, and it’s difficult to plan for tomorrow let alone the next quarter. Does this mean you let up on the original plan during its execution? Absolutely not. But always be ready to make a shift in a different direction when necessary.

As Sun-Tzu said in his book, The Art of War, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Sometimes the plan you originally wanted, isn’t really the plan you needed. It is always difficult to accept this in the middle of the battle, but you need to be ready to reassess and calculate your next move. As I write this, West Texas Intermediate, is priced around $81/bbl. This price, while possibly artificially high, will stabilize and soon more planes will fly and the demand will rise.

This is the challenge of our industry in the current socio-economic/political climate. Just when you think your luck is turning for the better, and you are ready to seize the moment, a new roadblock jumps up. Sometimes commodity prices, sometimes a pandemic, but lately it is political ‑ carbon taxes, pandering to voting blocks, needless regulations and just a plain lack of understanding on what makes this country financially viable. This makes the challenges seem insurmountable. But they are not. Our industry is teeming with resourceful, high-achieving individuals.

Do we have the ability to save the population from skyrocketing energy prices caused by short-sighted politicians? The excessive suffering caused by high energy prices will affect every single facet of everyday life. Can we, as an industry, educate the populace to circumvent this possibility? Or will history continue on the path that ends in hard times for all? It has been said the hardest lessons are the ones best learned. Time will tell, but I prefer a future for my grandchildren where they may pursue their dreams and passions without having to fight for a loaf of bread. Collectively we are a bright bunch, so I do have faith that we can teach the lesson without having all Canadians experience the pain and suffering the lesson is about. By ready to adapt, survive and thrive. Change the plan, identify the problem, work the problem and solve the problem.

On a final note, my wife has decided that she will never see Celine Dion live in concert. She has also informed me that I am not, I repeat, not to purchase tickets to any of the aforementioned Canadian singer’s shows. So, I told her I would not try again. (With my hand behind my back and my fingers crossed. I don’t give up that easy.)

 

Brian Crossman is a Partner with Independent Well Servicing where he does field supervision and marketing. In case you are wondering, he isn’t looking for Celine Dion tickets…until the plan changes. (Editor’s note, Celine plays Winnipeg March 14, Saskatoon March 17, and Edmonton, March 20-21. Allegedly. No guarantees.)

 

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