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Oil show offers chance to vent on bin Laden

Politics has always been part of the oil and gas mix.

LAFAYETTE, La. ? Politics has always been part of the oil and gas mix.
That?s true in the oil patch and at this week?s major industry trade show the 2001 Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition, where one exhibitor is offering visitors the chance to vent some steam over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
At their exhibit inside the Cajundome, employees of The Fontana Center encourage passersby to pick up an 8-pound sledgehammer and slam the head on top of a tree stump bearing the image of Osama bin Laden and a rudimentary map of Afghanistan. By Tuesday afternoon, bin Laden?s image had taken far more punishment than the map.
?It?s obviously a gimmick, but it relates to what we do,? said Eric Stephens, an employee of the Lafayette-based fitness training and occupational therapy center that conducts physical assessments of laborers applying for jobs in a variety of industries including the oilfield.
At onshore and offshore drill sites, roughnecks use sledgehammers weighing 16 to 20 pounds to assemble and align equipment, Stephens said.
?We also test firefighters who use sledgehammers and axes to vent roofs in fires.?
The center actually incorporates tree stumps in their training and physical assessments, he said.
?In our clinics, we let them hit the stump on the top and the side to see if they know how to use a sledgehammer. We painted it for the show just to give them something to aim at,? Stephens said.
?It felt good,? said Gail Gamberrie with Callon Petroleum Co. of Natchez, Miss., after demonstrating her ?body mechanics.?