CARLSBAD, N.M. — Drillers are notorious for sweeping into places when the price of oil is right. The industry brings with it a cast of characters all looking for a piece of the action.
On the streets of Carlsbad, N.M., it's hard to miss an RV lit up with Christmas lights and plastered with hundreds of stickers. The driver is Josie Goeres, 57.
"This is what everybody calls the Sticker Bus," she said. "We have been on the road for 12 years."
Goeres is a petite woman with cocoa-colored skin and a big personality.
"I was born in Dominican Republic and my mom brought me here when I was 13," she said.
The Sticker Bus was a concept begun by her husband, Chuck. He sold the kind of stickers customers put on car windows. Chuck Goeres died of throat cancer two years ago. His parting words to his wife were, "Keep driving the bus."
"We met in Alaska," Goeres said. "In 1992, in a poker game."
Goeres was in Alaska working as a housekeeper. Her future husband was an oil pipeliner with a knack for Texas Hold 'Em. He had an infamous sense of humor. On his forehead was a tattoo of Tweety Bird.
"And he saw me and I don't know," she said. "He's just crazy like he was. He told my friend, 'I'm gonna marry that woman.'"
And he did. In Las Vegas, of course. Now Goeres sticks to the road, chasing after her best customers.
"I follow all the oil patch," she said. "Where is oil, the Sticker Bus is right there."
In the spring that means New Mexico and Texas. And as the mercury rises, she moves north to Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.
Her favorite stickers are those marketed to oil field workers. She creates most of them, including one of a skull wearing a hard hat that says 'Oilfield Mafia.'
"Well they talk about the mafia, you get in and you can't get out," she said. "Same thing in the oil field, you get in and you can't get out because the money. You don't want to quit making that kind of money."
Oil field workers can be a rough bunch — dirty, smelly, accustomed to long hours and dangerous work. Their industry is also subject to plenty of criticism. That's reflected in these stickers. Some of their messages are witty or vulgar, others, defiant.
"This one right here is, 'Life in the Oil Field, One Fracking Thing, After Another One'," she said.
Inside her RV, Goeres has all the equipment needed to make stickers in-house. She designs them on a computer, sends them to a specialized printer and then adds adhesive.
Customers walk up and place their orders directly at her RV window.
Goeres has lost count of the number of stickers she's designed. She has at least 1,400 covering the outside of her RV. Her transient lifestyle mimics that of her customers. But Goeres wouldn't have it any other way.
"The whole United States is my backyard," she said. "Every place I park is home."