Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to Basics

It occurred to me that we not only have folks down here just for the winter, but also neophytes to the world of fulltiming. You may not consider yourself a fullltimer; especially if you still have a stick and brick home, but living and working down here out of an RV for months at a time qualifies you. So, at the risk of boring some of our more seasoned folks, here are a few tips.

First off there is little or no on the job training for gate guards. I tell you this so you are prepared ahead of time. No one will hold your hand and, more than likely, you will be led by a service tech to some gawd forsaken remote spot and told to park your rig. If your lucky they will help you hook up to the "nurse trailer" and give you a quick briefing on how it all works. Regardless, before you know it you will be standing there with a clipboard (you did bring a clipboard, didn't you?) and wondering WTF happened. You will learn to share responsibilities with your partner and get settled in while working the gate at the same time. Basically your responsibility is to keep a record of all the vehicles that come and go through your gate.
You will rarely need heat in south Texas; but when you do space heaters are the way to go. Especially since your electric is free. Your on board furnace is almost too powerful down here and consumes copious quantities of propane. You folks in motorhomes need to pay special attention to this, since your tanks are built into the coach. You can check out Andy's blog at for info on an adaptor to allow you to supplement integrated tanks with an external tank. He also has a slew of helpful suggestions. Purchasing a couple of space heaters before you come down will save you additional pesos if you can find them. Speaking of climate control, don't forget to run your air conditioner periodically throughout the cooler months. The winter is also the time to clean, treat and reseal your roof. While you are up there make sure your condensate drains (on the bottom of the unit) are clean and free flowing. Also check the evaporator and condenser fins for obstructions and crud. If you are not comfortable doing this, having this performed before you come down will be money well spent. Not only will it cost you much more, finding reliable RV repairman down here is nigh impossible.
Buy a road repair plan period! We can argue till the cows come home about the pros and cons of which service is better, you'll just need to research and make a choice. Just make sure that it is specifically tailored for RV's. Coach Net and Good Sams come to mind. We have Good Sams Roadside service and it is dollar for dollar the best purchase I have ever made. The added benefit is that it also covers every vehicle we own. The first time you have a flat it will pay for itself and you'll be pleased with yourself for having purchased it.
Speaking of flats. Weigh your RV and inflate your tires accordingly. This may be the most important thing you do.
Bring light winter clothes, including a set of long underwear or two. It doesn't have to be freezing out for you to get chilled; especially when you spend a few hours outside signing in vehicles.
Bring pens, pencils and whiteout. A clipboard is nice, since most companies don't provide them, and those that do usually give you one of poor quality.
A high quality flashlight is worth its weight in gold.

You'll need a pair of shoes that you an easily slip on and off. Once you are on a gate this will become abundantly clear to you. Suffice it to say that you don't want to track anymore dirt into the RV.

Buy a tarp or two.

You will be taking your RV on roads that resemble the tracks used for rallying or short course trucks. If I had a high dollar RV I would consider buying a cheap tow behind to use for gate work, like a used FEMA trailer. Seriously folks; the roads are that bad.

Banks are just as far away (if not farther) from your nearest town. Additionally, a lot of guard companies don't offer direct deposit. Regardless; make financial arrangements before your come down.

If you are contracting, avoid the temptation to spend your new found wealth and pay your taxes! There are sites that you can register at that make this process simple. There are folks who struggle with this and find themselves staring at a tax bill at years end. Some end up switching to companies that treat you like an employee and take out your taxes automatically.

Bring stuff to do with your down time. Subscription television like Dish or Direct are invaluable. Hobbies are also another way to keep busy.

I'm sure there are other things to add, but this should serve as a good start. There is also a wealth of information on the web. Most companies will answer your questions and you can also establish a dialog with gate guards via several forums on the web. Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Good information for anyone starting new at gate guarding. I would also suggest they bring rain boots and a plastic tub big enough to put water in the bottom so you can step into it to wash mud off the boots before tracking it into your RV. A good bug spray (Off Deep Woods), sun screen, wide-brimmed hat, and mothballs probably would be helpful too.