Saturday, August 9, 2014

Too Good to be True

There is an adage that states, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". After close to three years in the oil patch I can't even begin to count the times that we have been told that the job we were being offered was a "piece of cake" or "a walk in the park" or "easy pee zee" - you get the idea. The next thing we knew we were in a living hell. In life I believe that if you stoically accept the inevitable difficulties or challenges that come along you will eventually be rewarded. It may not seem to always happen and it most likely won't be the easiest path to take. I have found that to be especially true as a contractor in the oil patch. We all know that this is not the easiest of ways to make money as a workamper/contractor. I've pointed out how a lot of contractors are viewed as an expendable commodity, basically a tool to be used as needed. So the question becomes how to make yourself stand out and be more valuable to the guard company that you contract out to. Ironically, one of the best ways is to remain unnoticed. Virtually nothing is more appreciated than a guard who can fend for himself and not pester the guard/security company with frivolous calls. Almost as important is to accept the initial gate or job that is offered, unless given a choice. Placing unreasonable demands on the guard/security company is a quick way to find yourself sitting and waiting. While I'm on that; making you wait is oft times the subtle way a guard/security company lets you know that your antics are not appreciated. In today's litigious environment it is also a way for them to tell you to hit the road; something to keep in mind. If you simply "cowboy (or cowgirl) up" and do these things you should eventually reap the rewards for your effort(s). I know a lot of you may reading this with a healthy dose of skepticism. I even wrestled with it and mentioned it in a blog or two. By making ourselves available, accepting every challenge that came along and keeping complaints down; we found ourselves going from one crappy gate to another. We became the "go to" couple for every nightmare gate you can imagine. Hey!, I never said that it would be easy. The adage that there is an exception to every rule applies here to. A lot of times the folks with the shiny shoes and ties have no idea what your daily struggle is all about. Trying to maintain a balance by knowing when and how to voice your discontent is perhaps the hardest thing to do. Maintaining a healthy, open line(s) of communication is a good first step. After several fracks in a row or a gate or two with high traffic counts, you might want to politely mention something. No one said you had to be a doormat. This is one of those times where the difficult decision to move on is sometimes mulled over. Yet another adage comes to mind; "that's why our homes have wheels". You don't want to start a precedent of moving from one company to another; but sometimes it is the only way to affect change or better yourself. After many challenging gates we started to get an occasional "atta boy" or two from our employer. The exploration, pipeline and drilling companies started requesting us on gates and efforts were made to retain us with financial perks, paid sites between gates and  a choice of assignments. Now we find ourselves on a pipeline gate with little or no traffic. That has opened the door for one of us to take on extra work, essentially doubling our pay. It hasn't been easy and it didn't happen overnight; but it certainly has been worth the wait.

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