She woke up long before daybreak, rustling around in their small house in Tanaha, Texas. Each weekday, she carpooled to Center to put in her shift at the Curtis Mathis Air Conditioning plant. Before she left, she turned on the gas heater in his room to take the frigid chill out of the air as he got up Even as a 15-year-old, Wayne Christian recognized how hard his parents worked. Together they covered the basics; his dad worked at the Post Office.
“If only mom would not have to work,” he negotiated with God. Perhaps in the best deal he ever made, God answered the young man’s prayer.
“My dad got the Enco station and my mom got to quit work,” says Christian.
Their family’s whole economic situation shifted dramatically, giving Christian his first inkling of how the oil and gas industry affects families all over the state.
“Wayne, this is the first time I’ve been able to pay all these bills,” his dad told him after they all began to work at the station together. The future immediately looked brighter. He began to dream of being the first college-educated person in his family. In a few short years he graduated from Stephen F. Austin to the applause of his proud parents.
Recently elected to serve as one of three Texas Railroad Commissioners, Christian came to the job with a healthy respect for the hard-working people in the oil business. In fact, his chief concern is always those employed as oil workers across the state.
“That’s where my heart is. I want moms to put food on the table, people to have jobs. The American middle class has been hit hard,” he says, “One-third of jobs in Texas are directly or indirectly associated with oil, gas, or coal.” Christian predicts an upcoming boom without hesitation.
“European allies want to buy from us, not the Middle East or Russia, “ he says, pointing out our ability to supply with consistency. With upbeat conviction, Christian lists items in rhythmic rat-a-tat; the new refinery in Corpus Christi, “the $450 million facility Austin Company is building in the Permian Basin,” the Epic pipeline from west Texas to Corpus, and the three Texas ports along with one in Louisiana that are exporting liquified gas.
“Mexico is converting their entire electrical grid to natural gas and wants as much as we can send their way,” he announces triumphantly, closing his argument in favor of an imminent oil and gas boom. From the young man who prayed his mom would not have to work so hard to becoming a Texas Railroad Commissioner, Christian is proof that God answers prayers. For more of my interview with the Texas RR Commissioner and other energy hero stories, go to OrbitLandServices.com.
Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Comments are invited at cathykrafve.com.